Franchisors must stop, collaborate and listen

The best franchises are those that recognise that collaboration with franchisees is key

Franchisors must stop

While Vanilla Ice probably hasn’t inspired too many business headlines over the years, his advice to “stop, collaborate and listen” seems apt when I think back to the bfa’s annual conference. Time and again one message came through loud and clear: a brilliant leader is someone that takes a collection of passionate people and shapes it into something much bigger than the sum of its parts. And successful head honchos do that through engagement and empowerment.

The franchisor panel, featuring four networks with outstanding reputations – Water Babies, Signs Express, Home Instead and TaxAssist Accountants – couldn’t have emphasised this enough. The quartet placed collaboration right at the top of their list of tips for those looking to follow in their footsteps.

Then there’s McDonald’s – probably the best-known franchise brand to the average person on the street – which has franchisee input stamped throughout its model. It calls it a ‘three-legged stool’ approach: a collective of company, franchisees and suppliers, all of whom play a major part. McDonald’s didn’t get where it is today by dictating to franchisees but by working with them.

The same notion was emphatically illustrated by two of the non-franchising speakers at the conference: baroness Karren Brady and former F1 pit-crew mechanic Marc Priestley.

Brady’s entertaining and insightful talk focused on leadership and culture, which she highlighted as some of the most important areas of focus for any business owner. She underlined that culture should be inclusive to maximise results; it definitely seems to have worked for her so far.

In turn, Priestley was effusive about those on the frontline having unrivalled insight into where improvements can be made. He cited his own experience of telling the famously uncompromising Ron Dennis that he knew best about how pit stops could be streamlined because it was what he did every day. Dennis agreed and Priestley’s crew proceeded to set a new world record for the fastest stop.

That collective approach is an inherent advantage available to every franchise. Franchisees have invested time, money and livelihood in the success of their business and the franchisor’s brand. It’s an incredibly powerful motivator. The result is a continuously replenishing pool of potential initiatives from multiple sources. Properly harnessed, they’ll strengthen the performance of all concerned. Non-franchised companies can’t replicate that resource.

Every good franchisor, at any stage of development, establishes channels for franchisees to feed back their ideas. And, by doing so,” they create engaged, empowered franchisees who are truly invested in the success of their brand and are more passionate, loyal and determined to thrive.

Pip Wilkins
Pip Wilkins