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Is there such a thing as too much support?

Written by Frank Milner on Thursday, 15 November 2018. Posted in Insight

Yes, franchisors should support their new franchisees. However, too much hand-holding can be bad for the entire network

Is there such a thing as too much support?

As franchisors, we regularly proclaim one of the many beauties of franchising is a person doesn’t always need previous industry experience to be a success. Why? Because we’ll train and support you every step of the way. But how much support is too much? And when should a franchisor draw the line with the level of training and support offered to a franchisee? Is there such a thing as too much hand-holding? I think so. And I believe if you become the ultimate crutch for your franchisees, neither of you will ever achieve your full potential.

Prospective franchisees may think this sounds a little incongruous. But let me pose a question – you want to be your own boss, right? And you understand through franchising you’ll have the reassurance of a proven model and a sense of security you can fall back on with the knowledge and experience of industry experts should you need it. What you’re not looking for is a business in which you only turn up. One where you never have the confidence to make a decision for yourself or have no autonomy because, in reality, someone else is calling the shots. That, my friends, is not a franchise. 

As a franchisor, our job is to develop franchisees into successful, profitable and fulfilled business owners. I’m incredibly proud to say that’s representative of our 70-strong UK network. Realising this goal starts by setting expectations from day one. Offer quality, in-depth training and ongoing support that has been proven to help your franchisees excel. But don’t promise the earth because people will expect it. Both parties need to be clear about where the responsibility will lie for essential business disciplines like networking, lead generation, sales, HR and finance after the all-important training and launch period. 

It’s completely normal for franchisors to want to hand-hold in the early stages of a franchisee’s journey. I’d encourage it at first. But there comes a time when excessive support might hinder growth and progress. Equally, if you attempt to micromanage your franchisees, the effect can be debilitating for them. Rather than helping your network develop into confident, capable business owners, you’ll create a collection of timid workers who, through no fault of their own, will be a drain on your resources. 

The real skill for franchisors is empowering franchisees to succeed by themselves in the long-run. Obviously, you’re there if times get tough but they should have the tools to succeed on their own.

Empower them to be autonomous but within brand guidelines, naturally. This doesn’t mean releasing them to the wind and never being there. It means creating a support structure around them that allows them to find their own answers and use their own initiative to problem solve. Think: resource libraries, live operations manuals, regular regional and national meetings where they can network and share ideas with fellow franchisees. Fostering a collaborative environment in which your franchisees turn to each other for support and advice is immensely valuable. 

Making knowledge, advice and resources easily accessible significantly reduces the likelihood that a franchisee will come straight to you instead of thinking for themselves. Inform them what’s available, remind them of their training materials and encourage them to source answers and information themselves. Incorporating these processes and establishing this status quo in your initial training programme will make all the difference a year down the line when a franchisee should be relatively self-sufficient. 

As the ultimate litmus test, imagine a franchisee has a basic question about operations after 12 months. If their initial reaction is to pick up the phone to you or to drop you an email – something has gone wrong. If you still get these types of questions at this stage, rather than serve up the answer, nudge the enquirer in the direction of the solution. I call this tough love and, believe me, it’s in everyone’s best interests. 

About the Author

Frank Milner

Frank Milner

Having worked as a stock broker, built a successful insurance business, acted as a sales coach and then taken on a vice president role at WSI, the digital marketing franchise, Milner has an impressive and varied background in business, franchising, sales and marketing. In his current role as CEO of Tutor Doctor, the private tutoring franchise, he's seen the company grow globally to include 500 franchisees spread across the world, including the UK.

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