How to muster up motivation among franchisees

By demonstrating tangible benefits, you're far more likely to get them excited about the future

How to muster up motivation among franchisees

So you’ve sold your first franchise territory to the most wonderful franchisee, they’ve sailed through their induction training and can’t wait to roll up their sleeves and get started. It’s taken a lot of hard work, sleepless nights and a considerable sum of money to get to this point. But fast-forward a number of years and it’s not uncommon for a franchisee’s initial enthusiasm to dampen a little and their performance to suffer as a result. Within any franchise network there can be a lot of variation: there will be some absolute stars as well as franchisees whose performance is plateauing. And once you’ve eliminated training and ability issues, a lot of the time a drop in performance is down to one main factor: motivation.

This should never be confused with laziness though. More often than not, it’s down to the fact that a franchisee has achieved their initial goals so they start to relax and wind down, whether consciously or unconsciously. For example, if a franchisee’s main motivation when they first came on board was to be in control of their working hours and have the kudos of owning their own business, their sluggish sales could be down to the fact that they feel they’ve already accomplished what they set out to do. Similarly, a franchisee who’s been with you for ten or 15 years and has a profitable business that satisfies their goals – nice holidays, playing golf three times a week, making enough to cover the kids’ living expenses at university – might still be giving you headaches because you know their territory could be turning over 30% more in the hands of someone hungrier.

The problem in both scenarios is that while the franchisees have met their goals, you’d like to see them achieve more. To propel them on to greater things, you should first try to have an open and honest face-to-face conversation about how they think they’re doing and what’s motivating them now. Even if the franchisee feels like they’re in the honeymoon period and everything is going well, you might need to focus their attention on what comes next. And if they bought a franchise because they wanted to become their own boss, congratulate them on achieving their objective but suggest it could be time to set some new goals. This could be making money, building a profitable business, maximising their franchise’s resale value or even passing the business on to a family member.

However focusing on extrinsic factors isn’t the only way to motivate franchisees: it’s just as important to spell out what success can mean for a franchisee in personal terms. For example, if you can paint a vivid picture of what a successful franchise looks like then you can show the franchisee what achieving their goals could mean for them, whether it’s nicer holidays, shorter weeks or an earlier retirement. For most people, hitting a revenue target in isolation isn’t a great motivator. But if the consequence of hitting that target is getting to do something they’ve always dreamed of, then it becomes a very powerful one. By demonstrating tangible benefits, you’re far more likely to get them excited about the future.

Any of these motivators are great news for the franchisor as they all require serious effort and focus from the franchisee and will naturally lead to higher revenues. Work with franchisees on a plan to help them achieve their goals, whatever they may be, because they aren’t going to get there by standing still.

And if franchisees still aren’t filled with a renewed sense of get-up-and-go, you might want to try some other tactics. Sometimes it’s a case of making franchisees feel like they’re a bigger part of the network, especially for more established franchisees who can come to feel detached. Because they’ve been doing fine for so long, the franchisor may have been leaving them to it. The trouble is that when they don’t feel part of the bigger picture it makes it less likely that they’ll want to play a larger role. Addressing this can be something as simple as taking them out for dinner or connecting them with a mentor, which gives them the chance to discuss their plans and goals.

Finally, creating an exclusive club with benefits for those who hit a particular level of revenue can work wonders for the entire network. The psychology behind why this is so effective really just boils down to the fact that it taps into good old-fashioned competitiveness and one-upmanship. New franchisees can see what they can achieve by emulating the most successful in the network, people in the middle get a taste of what they could have with just a bit more work and the top dogs often compete fiercely for the number one spot. An annual conference is the perfect time and place to publicly highlight where everyone sits within the network. But remember that this tactic is about kudos, not money.

Of course there is a perfectly reasonable argument that highlighting a person’s lack of achievement to their peers can end up demoralising them. But in practice I’ve found that the response is overwhelmingly positive and collectively the whole network moves forwards.

Franchisees understand that they’re on a journey and that getting to the top takes time. That being said, it’s wise to divide your network into appropriate sections based on how much revenue they’re generating so everyone has a realistic target rather than getting disillusioned.

Ultimately, people don’t respond well to being beaten by a big stick. It’s much better to get to the heart of what’s really motivating them and create a means for them to get it. That way, everyone wins.

Suzie McCafferty
Suzie McCafferty