Ask Franchisees, “Would you do it all over again?”

Validation and multi-unit ownership are strong indicators that positively memorable experiences exist within your franchise system. Another way to confirm the existence of these experiences is simply to ask your franchisees: would you do it all over again? However, as a franchisor you must first earn the right to even be taken seriously if you ask this question.

As you head down the path of creating positively memorable experiences with each and every franchisee, be sure to consider ALL touch points – even those beyond the obvious mediums of in-person, by phone and via email. Think digitally!

How do you interact with franchisees on Facebook? How do you come across to your franchisees in LinkedIn discussion groups? Is there common courtesy? Are you proud of each other’s actions within these platforms?

Many will refer to all of this as being great in theory, and not really practical. But just think what could happen if every touch point were seen as another opportunity to create or enhance positively memorable experiences. How would that change the culture of your system? How would that lend towards growing your brand? Think of the ripple effect.

Here are six key points to creating positively memorable experiences in a franchise organization:

  1. Understanding the true meaning AND spirit of interdependent franchise relationships. This must be shared and exemplified at every point of contact with franchisees.
  2. Developing the right culture at all levels. Be careful- culture is also defined as bacteria! This takes time and commitment, and is a reflection of how people, whether franchisees, employees, suppliers or others, are treated at all times.
  3. Creating an environment of truth, trust and transparency based upon open, two-way communications – the cornerstone of creating the right culture. Think of a three-legged stool that could hold a great deal of weight when fully intact yet would immediately fall under its own weight if one leg was compromised.
  4. Establishing your franchise system as family. Treat them as such but understand that this is not the typical type of family of yesteryear with subservience to the head of the household. Mutual respect is paramount!
  5. Building an environment of bottom-up profitability and growth with ALL parties to the franchise agreement and other related agreements focused on mutual goals and objectives. All must sing out of the same hymnal, and not just for dress rehearsal – so be sure to give them the hymn book.
  6. Positively Memorable Experiences – Live it and breathe it every day for optimum results!

As National Small Business Week comes to an end, I’d like to give a shout out to small business owners – entrepreneurs, moms & pops, franchisees, sole proprietors – for paving the way for future generations by keeping the American Dream alive. It’s through your hard work, persistence, dedication and commitment that you continue to improve business at the local level.

With your own money and time, you’re actually field-testing new ways of doing business – marketing, technology and other – continuing to innovate and explore across many industry segments.

Taking risks, you continue to invest in growing areas while also helping to revitalize once great areas. And, whether you know it or not because you’re often in the shadow of big business and Corporate America, you are the backbone of this great nation.

You, all of you, each of you are the spirit of Entrepreneurship and free enterprise that has made this country great and will continue to keep it great for decades to come. For all of that, and for all that you do, I thank you!

And as Mental Health Awareness Month continues, I’ll leave you this week with the following:

“Don’t be too hard on yourself. There are plenty of people willing to do that for you. Do your best and surrender the rest. Tell yourself, “I am doing the best I can with what I have in this moment. That is all I can ever expect of anyone, including me.” Love yourself and be proud of everything you do, even your mistakes, because your mistakes mean you’re trying.

If you feel like others are not treating you with love and respect, check your price tag. Perhaps you subconsciously marked yourself down. Because it’s YOU who tells others what you’re worth by showing them what you are willing to accept for your time and attention. So, get off the clearance rack. If you don’t value and respect yourself, wholeheartedly, no one else will either.”

– Unknown

A Few Thoughts on Developing Corporate Culture

According to author, Kris Dunn in her blog post, Keys to Developing Corporate Culture, “Corporate culture is all about really what you value as a company, what you value in terms of how you serve your customers, how business gets done, and what you value from a performance perspective across your talent base.” Although he concedes that there is no single definition that could be overlaid across all of corporate America, Dunn stresses that, at its core, culture represents the manifestation of the guiding principles that underpin every part of your company.

“Like style,” Dunn says, “you kind of know good culture when you see it.”

Culture is less about “free soda and ping pong tables” and more about performance, Dunn argues. Keeping a fun workplace atmosphere may be part of the image that your company presents, but what culture should actually be built on is an unrelenting focus on factors that “create a DNA map of the type of employee that a company looks for.” Find the characteristics that lead to high-performing team members, and your company becomes stronger and more successful.

A while ago, I had shared Dunn’s blog within various LinkedIn groups and posed two questions, “What are your thoughts on developing corporate culture? Would you be willing to let go of top performers if their management style is detrimental to your culture?” Here’s what various members of the groups had to say…

“There is no question that any company is only as strong as their weakest link. Too many leaders wait too long before they let poor performers or those with poor attitudes go. They are afraid of legal repercussions or more commonly, those “difficult conversations.” The biggest error is not clearly knowing and expressing the caliber of work expected from the team, giving the team the tools to be successful, and them holding them to account. Leaders don’t consistently document performance. They wing it. Just because someone is in charge doesn’t mean he or she has the knowledge or training on how to create and implement a company culture that endures and helps the company thrive.”

In our business, not one person can be above the values or culture that we have established. Most franchises, good ones at least, have that culture built into the fabric of their operations and in everything that they do. It’s one of the reasons that people invest in therm. It is what helps make them successful. I have had to relieve some top performers before because their method or interpretation of our culture was not in alignment with what was important at the client level and the staff/store level. It looks on paper like it may be painful to the business, but in each case, it was the best decision for the business. Ours is an owner/investor model so day to day is run by an on-site manager so it isn’t always apparent at the 5000-foot view. To answer the question above, if members of our management teams at the store level is not in alignment with our culture and they are successful, it is generally in spite of themselves and our stores and staff are bigger than any one individual or leader.  Make the move and upgrade.”

“If the answer is no, then you have no culture, and culture doesn’t matter to you. Being a top performer is a part of our culture. Diversity is part of our culture. Acceptance of diversity is part of our culture, but style isn’t culture. If style is part of your culture, maybe your culture is superficial? We used to call that an office full of empty suits. If diversity, acceptance of diversity, and being a top performer aren’t important cornerstones of your culture, you may have a dysfunctional culture. The answer has to be yes. It’s a trick question, right?”

We’re looking forward to additional thoughts and perspective. What are your thoughts?

Culture Is A Work In Progress

Work in ProgressI do believe, in many cases, the level of business success contributes to the decision on whether or not a high performer is let go because their style is detrimental to the culture. In the case of a high performer in a business that is barely making it, that high performer probably stays. This situation works for the immediate time being but not for long-term growth. It’s difficult to build a team in this scenario. A high performer with a bad attitude in an environment with other high performers, probably should go. But not without trying to get the person in line first. Bad attitudes are detrimental to team building. However, often times a bad attitude actually develops as a result of how people are treated by management, or by a particular manager. There are various other scenarios as well.

Culture lives and breathes in all organizations. It must be nurtured – fed and taken care of. If sick, the virus causing the sickness must be addressed. In the case of cancer, it must be identified, isolated and removed – making sure to properly treat closely affected areas to be sure of total elimination. If healthy, it must continue to be fortified – an immune system built, and new well-being programs developed.

At the end of the day, Culture is a work in progress! It must be fluid. It must fill in the cracks and gaps and reach its own level. It must be understood by all. It must be allowed to grow. But it must be managed. The key is whether you do so reactively or proactively!

Recently, I read an interesting article about strategy and its effect on culture. Key paragraphs and link to the article follows…

Does strategy matter?

If you do not think that it matters, then you are in good company. There are many who question the value of strategy. And I see many companies where there is no formal strategy; the informal strategy is to keep doing what has worked in the past or to chase what is fashionable today.

Strategy v Execution

When it comes to questioning strategy there are two schools that are particularly prominent. First, there is the school of execution. The execution school which says that strategy is waste of time. Why? Because strategies are generic-obvious and what matters is execution. The ability to turn strategy into the daily live of the organization. Clearly, there is some truth in this school. Strategy which cannot be operationalized is waste of time-resource.

Strategy v Culture

Then there is the school that says, “culture eats strategy for breakfast”. Yes, culture is powerful. Culture determines what gets done and how it gets done. A strategy that does not take into account the fit with culture will meet lots of resistance. Getting people to enact such a strategy will be like fighting a guerilla war with an enemy who is patient and cunning. What is forgotten is that culture can be and is influenced-shaped-shifted through strategy.

To see strategy and culture as being separate and distinct is a gross misunderstanding. This misunderstanding arises due to our reductionist-analytical thinking. Strategy and culture are interlinked. Put differently, if you change strategy, you will take actions that will influence the culture. And if you change culture, it will eventually influence the strategy.

Read more HERE.