The wonderful thing about franchising is that you can always rely on your fellow franchisees’ support, says Frank Milner, CEO of Tutor Doctor
A lot of prospective franchisees will assume that the only support they will receive will come from the franchisor. Much of it will, of course, and any ethical franchisor will ensure their franchisees are fully supported. But the best franchisors will also foster a culture of peer-to-peer support within the network. This can mean support will also come from fellow franchisees. And that support is golden.
Unlike standalone small businesses, where the next office, shop or restaurant is a competitor, franchisees don’t compete in most franchise systems. Therefore, as a new franchisee, you have the benefit of knowing other people will have stood where you now stand and are likely to have faced any challenge you’re facing. They might have approached problems in a different way to you or have a tried and tested solution. They might simply understand, better than anyone, the way in which the systems and processes, which are relatively new to you, can be utilised for maximum impact.
The collective knowledge of an existing network is a powerful resource for new recruits to tap into – and they should be encouraged to do so. And if the franchisor has gotten things right and brought in the right kinds of people, they’ll be only too happy to help guide and support the newest members of the franchise.
“Why would they do that?” I hear you ask. Well, it’s simple: franchising relies on collective success. It’s in franchisee A’s interest for franchisee B to be successful. Individual franchisee growth and profitability will positively impact the whole network. Successful franchisees have bigger businesses, which helps raise awareness, create demand and improve reputation for the entire brand. The more successful each franchisee is, the more revenue is generated for the franchisor to reinvest in improved systems, more support and product or service innovations. Everybody benefits from everyone’s individual success.
A good example of peer-to-peer support in our business would be if a student needs help in a subject for which a franchisee doesn't yet have a tutor. They can reach out to the network and retain the sale. This is also helpful for new franchisees in their first weeks and months and enhances the inspiringly collaborative nature of our network.
It’s a little bit chicken and egg but the reality is most franchisees will also be keen to give something back because someone did it for them when they first joined. If you’re buying into a new or very small franchise it’s likely that ‘founding franchisees’ (the first five to ten) will share a development mentality and have a personal drive to ensure the young business is a success by pitching in from day one - creating the very culture and team ethos later franchisees will benefit from for years to come.
As any network develops, the culture of peer support will come naturally to franchisees once their business affords them the time and flexibility to give a bit back to newcomers. Some practical ways this might be seen could be a buddy system, mentoring programme, franchisee council or franchisee marketing committee. All of which require the time, knowledge and experience of established franchisees for the benefit of the entire network and especially for new franchisees.
It’s a really good business example of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs; once people get beyond satisfying their own needs and wants, they want to contribute to the greater good. Isn’t franchising wonderful?