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The importance of investing in your employees

on Wednesday, 13 January 2016. Posted in People

While labour accounts for a significant proportion of a franchise's outgoings, there's little doubt that investing in your workforce can deliver rich rewards

The importance of investing in your employees

Labour is often the biggest cost line on any franchisee’s P&L but rather than seeing this as a cost to be reduced, it is critical that franchisees harness the power of their team and use this to ensure the success of their business. 

Quite simply, franchisees will not grow their business if they don’t take their team along for the ride. For any franchisee in any business sector, one of their first priorities must be to share their business vision and values with their team. It is impossible to assess and develop performance without these being made clear to all involved in the business. The vision must be understood and remembered by team members – irrespective of seniority – and repetition in the first few weeks will greatly aid this process. 

So what should you do if you have been awarded a franchise and have clearly communicated your vision and values to your team but it pretty quickly becomes clear that not everyone shares your energy and enthusiasm for your new business? There are two options to consider here: you either develop and nurture your current employees or replace those who you don’t feel will ever join you on your journey. 

Recruiting new team members is a huge task in itself and one that your franchisor should be more than willing to offer advice and guidance to facilitate. But assuming that you have people in place who you believe have the potential to adopt your values and mindset, how do you develop this team and what roles are key? Clearly this will differ hugely from one franchise to another. However, certain questions must be asked. How hands-on do you wish to be with your franchise?  Do you have aspirations to take on additional businesses or territories? What is a typical level of team churn in your industry?

At Marston’s, we have a clearly defined team structure within our managed businesses. This has been designed to give us supervisory-level team members who will act as eyes and ears on the ground and encourage, coach and motivate the more junior members of the team. We also aim to have an assistant manager in each business – someone who likely has aspirations for their own development and is fully trained to hold the reins in the absence of the person who is usually in charge.  

It is all too easy to fail to invest in this team structure but it is a pitfall wisely avoided. We strongly encourage our franchisees to clearly define their management structure and to invest in the people fulfilling these roles because if anything happens to the franchisee, it is these people who will have sole responsibility for day-to-day operations and delivery of the customer experience. Certainly, if you are looking to operate multiple businesses, having a reliable, strong senior management team is crucial. 

Once the team structure is clear and the people are in place, then learning and development becomes key. This must be given equal importance alongside day-to-day core business activities. There are a wealth of tools available to assist with this, both from your franchisor and from the wider world. We provide our franchisees with a mixture of digital solutions and real-life support, including on-site team training , off-site training and engagement.  We also carry out a full assessment of the team capabilities prior to awarding a franchise so our franchisees know in advance what areas need focus.

Externally, everything from government-funded learning opportunities to industry specialists are available. We partner with an apprenticeship provider that caters very well to the retail sector and assist our franchisees in both recruiting enthusiastic apprentices and in training them to earn recognised qualifications. The funding available to apprentices allows the franchisee to realise an instant cost reduction, have a more engaged team and to identify their leadership team of tomorrow.

When I meet prospective franchisees I am not just assessing their business plan but also whether they have a genuine commitment to people development and how they plan to nurture and develop their team. This commitment is so important to franchisee success. While using the tools is straightforward and we provide enough guidance to make this easily achievable, what we can’t replicate and train are the leadership skills required to make the practical learning take root within the business. A franchisee who has those skills is a pleasure to work with and will be able to replicate their success across multiple units or territories as their business develops.

Your team is your biggest liability in terms of cash and your biggest asset to help drive the business. By investing time, money and resource, and it will make your franchising story a successful one. 

This article comes courtesy of Mike Atkins, operations manager for Marston’s Pub Franchise.

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