Incentives play a key role in our franchise model

Jonathan Holden of Molly Maid claims that 'mixing business with pleasure' is a vital ingredient of the brand's franchising appeal.

Incentives play a key role in our franchise model

Earlier this year, the president and chief executive of Molly Maid jetted off to Athens for an enjoyable weekend. He was joined by five of the company’s franchisees and their partners, and I tagged along as well. This had been a long overdue trip, which should have taken place in 2019 but had to be put on hold due to Covid – and the many restrictions that applied.

The five franchisees had qualified for this ‘weekend escape’ by achieving a sales target. It was the second such trip arranged, during 2019, to celebrate a number of the company’s most successful franchisees. The first one travelled to Venice, while the next ‘weekend escape’ will journey to Rome in a few months’ time.

But these programmes are about much more than just travel and fun. They represent a very important part of our company culture at Molly Maid, because we believe strongly in rewarding franchisees for their hard work and success.

Incentive programmes have long been part of our support mix at Molly Maid. In recent years franchisees have soaked up the sun in the Caribbean, or enjoyed travelling along Portugal’s Algarve coast, and even visited historical sites such as the Acropolis in Greece. Hopefully, this inspires franchisees to post sales targets they might not have otherwise reached.

Yet, in our experience, it is less about the destination and more about the journey of helping franchisees to grow their businesses. This is why we have undertaken so many travel programmes over the years. And here are a few tips for bosses interested about implementing a travel programme within their own company.

1) Provide advance notice of any ‘reward trip’ and then use this time to build excitement. Franchisees are usually so busy managing their business, that they need adequate time to plan their projects.

Start communicating the news of any planned travel programme before announcing the company’s sales targets. Maybe even give a few clues about the likely destinations, while franchisees that have previously benefitted from these travel programmes may be happy to suggest recommendations for business growth.

About one month before the qualification window opens, announce the destination, as well as any sales targets. We often send our network members small promotional items to stir their imagination. Ahead of one trip to Italy, we dispatched parcels of pasta wrapped in packaging that quoted their sales target. For another trip to Mexico, we posted small bottles of tequila.

2) Select a reasonable target, as well as an acceptable time span for achieving this figure. Nothing derails a travel programme more than unrealistic targets. You also don’t want a target that is far too low. We create our target figures after carrying out a lot of sales modelling. We study past targets, as well as current growth trends, and hopefully find something that stretches our network but doesn’t demoralise them.

We usually attempt to have five or six successful qualifiers. Our qualification window is usually somewhere around three months or 13 weeks. This may feel like a sprint but our experience tells us that franchisees do get fatigued: Better to sprint than undertake a marathon.

3) These activities should become part of your annual business plan. We have run travel programmes for a number of years and are already planning one for 2023. By incorporating these programmes into our annual business plan, it also becomes part of our culture, similar to the rebates we provide for advertising or our three face-to-face annual group meetings.

It is, of course, hard work attempting to reach a sales target. We sometimes find that a number of franchisees qualify every year, while others may wish to take their foot off the accelerator for a brief period. I do enjoy sharing news of our activities with franchisees, as well as helping them to grow their business. These travel programmes can be short and intense, but I believe they benefit both the organisation and each individual business partner.

4) Help franchisees keep track of their progress and never stop encouraging them to reach their personal targets. Never leave it to chance that all franchisees will track their business progress. We have developed a spreadsheet that they can use for this purpose.

We employ business advisors to support our franchisees. They regularly monitor results and are the first to congratulate mzembers of the network when they reach targets or enjoy personal milestones.

5) Celebrate winners and describe their achievements in detail to the rest of the network. Share their stories of how they achieved their success. This might include discussing their business plan, or highlighting their marketing investment or marketing methods. Discuss the factors that enabled these franchisees to ‘win’.

Since starting our programmes we have learned that perseverance and staying focused are equally important. And these too should be celebrated. I feel so very proud of our franchisees when they achieve their targets. The journey is always far more important than the destination, but travelling to Venice, Athens or Rome can also be fun.

Note: Jonathan Holden is the chief operating officer at Molly Maid UK.

This article comes courtesy of Molly Maid, the UK’s leading home cleaning franchise. Molly Maid UK is a full member of the British Franchise Association.

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