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The secrets to successful franchise leadership

Written by Annabel Jones on Tuesday, 08 December 2015. Posted in People

Like any business, the success of a franchise hinges on brilliant leadership at every single level, says Annabel Jones, HR director at ADP UK

The secrets to successful franchise leadership

Great leadership is essential in any company and a franchise is certainly no different. Both a franchisor and its franchisees are expected to delegate, inspire and, of course, achieve results. Yet fulfilling these expectations can create challenges when a leadership framework does not exist. In such instances, it may be difficult for the franchisor and franchisees to ‘own’ responsibilities and this can have detrimental effects on an organisation.

So how exactly can franchises ensure that they have an effective leadership structure in place?

Share responsibilities

Franchisors are expected to take leadership over fundamental business functions such as product management, national marketing campaigns and analysis of market trends. Yet franchisors often find themselves attempting to juggle these types of strategic initiatives in addition to day-to-day tasks that should not in fact be part of their remit. They might be concerned that giving franchisees greater control will affect their ability to fulfil responsibilities in line with wider business objectives. It is important to combat such misconceptions and ensure that all parties within the business are capable and trusted to take ownership of important tasks. 

Implementing detailed contracts that specify the responsibilities for both the franchisor and franchisee will evenly distribute tasks between the parties and relieve the pressure of having too much responsibility on one person’s shoulders. However, the real emphasis should be on building trust and training franchisees so that they are able to take on different types of responsibilities. Many franchisees may have recently entered the industry or have little experience in business management and might therefore find the prospect of leading their own business daunting and unfamiliar. Franchisors should offer franchisees the support, motivation and tools needed to tackle responsibilities head on. This way, both franchisor and franchisee will own their role and fulfil it to the best of their ability.

Have confidence in your abilities

Confident leaders are humble, accept their strengths and weaknesses and surround themselves with people who will challenge and support them. Leaders who demonstrate these characteristics are more trusted by their employees – and this also applies to franchise businesses. For example, when educating new franchisees about the business model that they are expected to follow, franchise leaders should ensure they know their business inside out and spend time configuring the most effective way of passing this knowledge onto their franchisees. This way, when franchisors communicate with franchisees about the business, it will be done with complete confidence and conviction. The franchisee will then trust in the franchisor as a useful contact who possesses the experience and expertise necessary to help guide them to success.

For franchisees, it is essential that they remain authoritative and convincing when training their employees. Confidence doesn’t necessarily mean a firm or severe approach; instead franchisees should demonstrate an impressive understanding of the business and the role of each employee. For example, conducting informative and accurate appraisals with staff will prove that the franchisee can confidently make fair and just decisions on an employee’s performance. In turn, this accurate investment into employee performance will enhance engagement with employees and build their trust in the leadership strategy. 

Invest to see rewards

Organisations are recognising that they should invest in leaders just as much as employees, not least because employees are likely to mirror the habits, skills and working attitudes of those who manage them. 

Continuous training is important in creating an effective managerial strategy that is geared towards developing and enhancing key leadership skills such as the ability to mentor, motivate and inspire employees. Franchise businesses should consider how they can build this into their framework and funnel the skills and mentality down to franchisees. Those franchises that can replicate the organisation’s leadership approach will be able to ensure consistency and commitment to shared goals. This will lead to absolute clarity and focus of leadership techniques across all levels.

Create a workplace culture

One of the biggest challenges for a franchise is creating a unanimous culture. This is an important success factor and is also expected by customers who want to receive the same experience across all branches. If franchise businesses fail to meet these expectations, it could seriously damage their reputation and lead to a loss of customers and revenue.

It is imperative that franchisors focus on feeding their cultural vision through to franchisees. All franchisees should understand what the company’s values are and work towards one shared vision and mission statement. A strong culture can also inspire employees, who will feel they are a valued part of an interesting business and will serve as proud ambassadors of the organisation as a result.

Lead decisively

In times of stress, employees rely on their leaders to make quick and logical judgements. Leaders need to demonstrate that they can deliver on their promises, proving to those around them that they are able, responsible and trustworthy to lead the rest of the business through challenges. 

The ability to act decisively is particularly important for franchisors, as they are often expected to assist franchisees on matters far beyond their remit of responsibility. Franchisors need to reassure franchisees that there is a strong support network available to them and encourage them to seek advice and guidance in times of stress. 

However, it is equally important that franchisors give franchisees autonomy to lead in a way that suits the nature of the individual branch. Even though franchises should maintain a consistent strategy, franchisees should have a level of freedom to decide which initiatives they want to implement. By involving franchisees in planning and always asking for their feedback on decisions that impact each individual franchisee, decisive leadership will always produce the best outcome for all parties involved. 

A hand-in-hand relationship

Although franchisor and franchisee leadership tasks can be perceived as complex and daunting, taking the time to delegate responsibilities, invest in leadership training and create an aligned franchise culture can help the relationship between franchisees and the franchisor flourish. Both parties will become content in their individual leadership roles, enabling employees to learn and grow in a stable, effective and attentive leadership environment. This will provide substantial benefits to the business, allowing it to move from strength to strength. 

About the Author

Annabel Jones

Annabel Jones

As HR director for ADP UK, the payroll and HR services provider, Jones knows a fair bit about people management. And this made her the perfect candidate to write us a series of columns on the HR dilemmas that regularly face franchisees and franchisors. Out of the office, Jones has recently taken up jogging, which should help when it comes to running around after her husband and daughter.

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