While it’s not always easy to have the confidence to make significant changes as a franchisor, it’s important to keep updating your model to meet the requirements of your market
I thrive off learning and as a result this drives development in my business. I'm absolutely committed to constantly looking for better ways to do things, tightening up areas that are too loose and working with our network to find the best answers. “If you ask better questions, you get better answers” – I regularly refer to this saying from Tony Robbins when faced with challenges.
I learnt a long time ago that in business you need to be constantly reviewing good practice and not only when something happens that forces that review. So at Little Voices the rule of thumb is to either annually review everything and make changes as necessary or review after an incident to prevent recurring problems and ultimately form a better structure.
Therefore policies are constantly under scrutiny and review so that we get better and more streamlined in what we do, from health and safety policies, safeguarding and equal opportunities to behaviour, social media, breaches and recruitment. A policy is written as a direct need in the business arises. There needs to be a benchmark that everyone works to and provides consistency and fairness to all. I often find that the painful part is before a policy is introduced, when there is a grey area. Once I have found the answer and the way that we are going to handle an occurrence in the business then suddenly it's not as painful anymore. It’s a pleasure to just say ‘refer to the relevant policy’: the grey area disappears and everyone is very clear on what the procedure is.
Change not only comes when the business faces new challenges but it’s also brought about by the changing world around us. When I was a child there certainly wasn’t anything like Facebook or Twitter and few companies would've had a social-media policy. The technology didn’t exist so a policy would have been irrelevant and unnecessary. However, spot the foolish company now that doesn’t have one in place. It is imperative that employees know what is tolerated and what isn’t on social media. Franchisees know how to run in line with the brand and your customers need to feel the culture of your business clearly and precisely through social-media channels.
After the horrific fire in London’s Grenfell Tower at the beginning of June, it is with some certainty that I predict policies will be scrutinised and significant change will occur surrounding the way that tower blocks are built and maintained. And rightly so. However, I would advise you to constantly review structures and policies within your business and not just wait for disaster to strike.
I will be very honest: I have sometimes been afraid of making too radical a change as a franchisor. I am much better at it now but there was a time when I didn’t want to ruffle feathers by bringing in change and making huge revisions to policies and procedures. But I am not as concerned with that now and neither should you be as a leader in your business. It is universally known that people do not like change: once you accept that you are less concerned with the backlash that can sometimes occur. One franchisor once told me that he knew every year at the national conference when there was a new announcement or something changed that at least one franchisee would decide that the company wasn’t for them any more. He was comfortable with that and, these days, so am I. You cannot stand still: gosh if I had stood still I would still be teaching singing in a battered little room and only have a handful of pupils.
Development, change and reflection happen all around us. As the election season has come and gone, there is a period of time for all of the political parties to reflect and rejuvenate to embrace the changes ahead. Immediately in front of us are the implications and deals surrounding Brexit: no doubt there will be a lot of reflection and going back to the drawing board that needs to be done on all sides. Businesses will need to keep up with whatever the outcomes are and in turn review and develop their policies and procedures as a result. I don’t want to get into a political debate about whether leaving the EU is the right or the wrong move but I merely wish to say that the only way to get through the outcome is to embrace all of this as positively as you can and through every threat find an opportunity, through every weakness find a strength. Remember that if you ask a better question, you will find a better answer.
This should not be a daunting task. The way you approach it will help enormously: have the right mindset and see that development and change is good. Let’s face it: if you make a mistake you need to deal with that and then ensure that it never happens again.
And my top tip for implementing change in the fast-paced world that we live in is education. Educate those around you: educate your customers, your staff, your franchisees and your suppliers. Help them to understand why change is necessary. Remember, its good to tweak things, its good to evolve, it’s good to trial and innovate new ways of doing what you do best. Change keeps you at the top of your game and that is where we all want to be. Otherwise there is no point being in business.