Franchisors are known for structure, rules, playbooks, and policies, but the COVID-19 pandemic completely changed the traditional workplace landscape – and many argue, it’s for the better.
With flexibility and creativity reigning supreme, more franchisors are now leaning into a policylight system as the future of their organization to drive results in the post-COVID era.
A policy-light organization is something Re-Bath has grown accustomed to as a foundational element in driving results. By striking a balance between flexibility and accountability, Re-Bath is on pace to close out a remarkable 2021 following a strong 2020 that reflects impressive same-store-sales growth alongside multiple franchise openings.
Increased demand for bathroom remodeling projects and market share gains drove nearly 80 per cent YOY increase in systemwide sales year-to-date. Capitalizing on unprecedented demand, existing franchisees are expanding and franchise development is on the rise with 17 signed agreements in 2021.
Now more than ever is there a need for results-oriented leadership as the franchise industry continues to rebuild. While many brands successfully navigated the pandemic through resiliency, the future remains uncertain. It’s time to turn resilience into results, and the secret may lie in flexible, policy-light work culture. While typically met with resistance, the below insight and advice is meant to inform those hesitant of executing such shift and detail the immense benefits that can follow.
1. Set clear goals
The only way policy-light organizations are effective is if your team members know exactly what they are expected to do, goals they need to achieve, and the impact they make in their role – all in a quantifiable manner.
This goes for entry-level employees, single and multi-unit franchisees, and the C-suite. The ‘how’ they achieve these goals is less important, so lean into flexibility. Loose policies allow team members the freedom to do what works best for them to garner results.
But, if you don’t make your expectations clear from the outset, you’re setting your team up for failure. Franchisors with a strong results-based culture have high-performing team members working toward clearly defined and achievable goals individually, within their departments, and on a company-wide level.
“When processes remain unchanged, results can lack”
2. Inspire open creativity to breed results
Franchise brands looking to grow in the post-COVID era must tap into creative energy. It will become essential to driving the business forward. Creative problem-solving will enable teams to generate new ideas and be innovators – whether it’s finding new approaches to problems, developing new products or services to meet demand, or improving upon existing operations.
When processes remain unchanged, results can lack. Tap into the idea of an open environment with continuous learning where team members are inspired to let their creativity shine through new tactics or approaches to meet your bottom line. This kind of empowerment has the potential to breed results in a new way.
One of the biggest barriers to creativity in the workplace is fear of making mistakes. Take necessary steps to cultivate a culture that rewards creative risk-taking by making it clear that your organization values creativity and understands its importance. This can be communicated clearly by being receptive to new ideas and recognizing risk-takers for the impact they’ve made.
In order to successfully foster this type of environment, you must provide the resources needed for creativity to thrive. Equip your team with the tools they need to perform. This may mean investments in technology, education, enhanced training programs, etc. Solicit feedback from your team, conduct an internal audit, and address this head-on for the best results.
3. Foster systemwide accountability
Policy-light organizations live and die on accountability. Simply put, accountability means everyone is held responsible for their goals. This means goals should be discussed in-depth and often.
If the pandemic taught us anything, it is the invaluable role communication plays in running a results-based business. A culture of open communication allows for question-asking and clarification which can lead to learning and better performance. Continuously provide your team with feedback – the good, the bad, the ugly. Constructive feedback allows team members to become more motivated and open to growth and change – ultimately driving bottom-line results.
Remember too, that the strongest of leaders inspire through accountability and lead by example. When leaders join in on shared accountability and commitment, the result is a team that strives even harder for achievement. Having transparency around goals and objectives from the top down demonstrates a systemwide commitment to responsibility and accountability to each other, regardless of hierarchy.
4. Build trust to grow confidence, independence, and results
One of the greatest benefits of a flexible culture is that it builds trust. Franchisors are charged with trusting that work will be completed accurately and independently. When trust is established, team members feel empowered, depended on, and supported which can enable them to become more involved in the company and better producers of results. Your team may also grow in confidence, knowing that they are trusted with freedom and authority over their work. Results-oriented franchise brands thrive on team members taking ownership and pride in their work because they are inspired by the impact they have. They are motivated to perform at their best when they feel and know their individual work matters.
So, place a strong focus on reviewing the execution that comes from this freedom and if it’s benefitting the business. If something is working, reward that. But if there is room for improvement, give clear feedback to produce stronger results.
The landscape for all businesses has significantly changed because of the pandemic. A policy-light format allows room for adaptation and the ability to pivot in an instant. Having this skill is more relevant than ever because being able to quickly shift or implement a new strategy delivers a higher level of efficiency. This lets company leaders focus on what needs to be done while team members can lean into a flexible nature on how to do it.
By implementing a flexible, policy-light culture, your franchise brand is able to remain future-focused as team members are held accountable to deliver forward-thinking, creative work.
Brad Hillier is CEO of Re-Bath, the nation’s premier bathroom remodeling franchise