Every company has a culture, whether they like it or not. Leaders must pay attention to it because the culture of a company affects everyone who interacts with it, whether employees, suppliers or customers.
As customers we have all dealt with the bloody-minded, inflexible, unhelpful companies. As an employee you may have experienced bullying or divide-and-rule cultures. Staff resign and customers take their business elsewhere to get away from cultures like these.
Conversely, staff and customers all love companies with positive, helpful, supportive, and nurturing cultures. A happy, helpful culture shines out from your first chat on the phone. Organisations like this are more likely to thrive.
If leaders don’t set and nurture a culture it will arise within the company anyway – and you won’t have much control of it, which can a problem. The most brilliant strategy will fail if the company harbours a culture of disrespect for its leadership.
How to set – and live – your culture in a franchise
Start with values
Values inform culture. Put yourself in the shoes of your customers, franchisees, and staff. How do you want them to feel about your company? Draw up a list of your values and the behaviours required to live those values. This will form the basis of your culture. Write a summary of your culture and what it means for behaviours, and publish it inside and outside of your franchise.
The franchise model means that what’s good for franchisees is generally good for franchisors, so co-operation should be a fundamental part of the culture of any franchise. Even franchisees who compete fiercely with each other should still practice friendly co-operation.
Recruit for cultural fit
Prospective franchisees will usually have experienced a variety of corporate cultures and will often know what kind suits them. Talk about the culture of your franchise and ask how they will fit into it. What experience have they had with similar cultures?
Live the culture yourself
Leaders saying one thing and doing something else generates a lack of respect for leaders and undermines attempts at creating a culture that benefits everyone.
Communicate your culture
Talk about what it is and how everyone involved in the franchise can uphold it. If people know what it is they are more likely to practice it.
Include culture in training
Make knowledge of your culture and how to live up to it a part of your training, for franchisees and all staff.
Encourage culture sharing
Franchise conferences, franchisee groups on social media, rewards for staff who perform well, team-building events, all encourage a culture of co-operation.
Don’t try to force it
A culture must be encouraged and nurtured rather than imposed, particularly in a franchise, where your franchisees are business owners in their own right. Each individual outlet will have a culture of its own but ensure these align with the overall culture of the franchise by encouraging a blending of the two.