How to cope when things don’t go according to plan

As an entrepreneur and franchisor, David Graham is no stranger to the spectrum of challenges faced by a business owner on a daily basis.

How to cope when things don’t go according to plan

As an entrepreneur and franchisor, David Graham is no
stranger to the spectrum of challenges faced by a business owner on a daily
basis. If his twenty plus years in the technology and franchising industries
have taught him anything, it’s how to react efficiently in challenging times
and share in best practice with others. Now, he’s proud to impart his wisdom
with the 335 Code Ninjas franchisees around the world.  

Why is it that it always seems to rain when you’ve forgotten your umbrella, or the last slice of toast never fails to fall butter side down? Although these might sound like lyrics to an Alanis Morissette song, I’m actually talking about life and all the little challenges it throws at us. As a business owner, it’s likely that challenging situations will occur on an almost daily basis – ranging from a minor mishap to a major catastrophe – but it’s not the problem that matters. It’s how you deal with it that counts.    

As a franchisee, the number one resource at your disposal is the relatively unlimited support available to you from your franchisor. Essentially, you’re never facing anything alone and that’s something I consistently communicate to my franchisees. Whether it’s a sudden internet outage – thanks to our back-up systems that causes fewer problems than you might imagine, as a kids’ coding franchise – or a dispute with a disgruntled employee, all manner of problems can arise when you’re simply attempting to go about business as usual.

So, the proverbial has hit the fan. Step one. Stop, take a second and look at the bigger picture. Does the problem feel like the worst-case scenario because you’re so engrossed in the minute details? Although sometimes easier said than done, try to consider the situation from an outsider’s perspective. Are you thinking logically? Are you behaving rationally? Our instinctive reaction during any time of turmoil or crisis is often a ‘fight or flight’ mentality, which inherently encourages you to do one of two things; panic or hide.

Instead, utilise your unique position as a franchisee and pick up the phone.  They say that a problem shared is a problem halved, which completely encapsulates the benefits of any franchise model. Don’t automatically look to other business owners or resources in the wider community for support, look back to your own network instead. That’s what they’re there for!

If the issue is seemingly minor but too challenging to tackle alone, sound it out with another franchisee or refer to the specialist training you will have received from day one. If the problem is more complex, then consult the opinion and expertise of your franchisor. Many franchise brands have set in place specific members of the support team to handle particular queries, so make use of this resource. It’s important to note that when any problem arises, the standard process for most brands is to alert your franchisor in the first instance.

If the problem is too much to handle in-house, then your franchisor will consult a network of pre-approved suppliers to guide you. Any good franchisor will have standard protocols for dealing with widespread issues by providing a crisis comms plan. These cover all manner of actions, from how to deal with media questioning to PR activities you can implement to reassure your customers.

Once you find yourself coming out the other side of the challenge, it’s imperative that you reflect on the experience and recognise what the trigger point was to begin with. No matter how trivial, it’s key to the ongoing success of a business that you can confidently identify any weak spots in your franchise. Share in best practice with other franchisees so they don’t fall foul of the same mistakes.  

With that being said, don’t be guilty of dwelling on the past. Thank the relevant people for supporting you through the challenge and recognise how the situation could have escalated had you not jumped into action so quickly. At the end of the day, it is both the good and bad experiences that make you a better leader. And in Alanis Morissette’s case, a better songwriter too!

David Graham
David Graham