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How Franchises Can Better Nurture More Successful Owners
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Your franchise leadership team has an exciting new business initiative that you’re eager to bring to life. The numbers look good, and you know your departments will get it handled. Full steam ahead, right?

After the first few weeks, though, you’re seeing uneven uptake on the initiative across your locations.

Getting buy-in from your owners — and setting them up for the best success possible — seems like it’s undermined by road bumps like these. Nurturing your owners takes a culture-level commitment from day one and from all sides of your franchise system.

Before we delve into building a franchise system culture that empowers owners, we’ll examine the owner perspective; then, we’ll outline why and how to establish franchisee benchmarks and lay out how to increase uptake among owners on new initiatives.

Owners: where they’re coming from, and what they’re looking for

It’s important to acknowledge that franchise owners put their financial futures on the line when they take on an agreement to invest in a franchise.

Because of this, owners depend on franchisors to provide clear expectations and a comprehensive roadmap for launching and maintaining their locations for durable success. In fact, owners sign up with a certain franchise precisely for the operational expectations and guidelines that a brand provides. Owners know that these operational guidelines and specifications are dependable and, critically, proven to drive results.

That said, franchise owners tend to leave anything that falls out of the scope of these guidelines and specifications by the wayside. And for good reason: if your margins as an owner are thin — or you want to ensure that you’re spending each dollar wisely — anything, whether it’s a new marketing or fundraising initiative, that doesn’t have clear specifications or expectations behind it will not be felt as mission critical. In fact, owners will usually perceive these sorts of initiatives as optional. Franchisors need to prioritize correcting this misconception in order to generate more owner buy-in.

Establish benchmarks clearly and comprehensively from day one

For owners to feel confident in the brand they’ve invested in and the partnership they’ve made with a franchise, they need to know exactly what is expected of them and how they should be proceeding from the moment they decide to open a location.

Let’s say, for instance, that you’re a franchisor of a restaurant brand. In this case, you have your operations specified down to the grain: in addition to mandating certain recipes or equipment, you’ve even listed the exact weights of portions of food to provide customers. But, as you the franchisor know, the success of your business depends on more than just operations. There are ancillary functions that are just as important, such as HR requirements and local marketing, that can be left to the discretion of the franchisee rather than mandated and monitored like other core business areas.

Everything that is mission-critical for a franchise location should be treated as such by franchisors in their communications to owners. This means positioning franchise specifications and objectives as requirements for owners. Importantly, franchisors should keep the number of requirements at an attainable level and stagger their implementation so owners aren’t flooded with more tasks than they can handle. Moreover, franchisors need to test the actions they want to require. Testing data is fundamental for franchisors to provide a compelling basis behind rollout and encourage owner implementation. Franchisors need to leverage the franchisees who stand out with these requirements to not only encourage other owners to follow suit, but use their results to establish strong benchmarks.

Most importantly, when outlining a requirement, franchisors need to back that requirement with data that demonstrates the business value of that requirement to owners. To provide just a few examples: An IT requirement needs to show how adopting certain tech saves a location time and money; a product requirement has to illustrate how it can lift transactions and drive the top line; an operations upgrade has to demonstrate that it saves labor time and costs.

Once your owners have implemented requirements, you need to track execution, ensure the requirements stays top of mind, incentivize early completion, make it as easy as possible for your owners to execute (part of this involves minimizing the number of steps to execute), and publish results. Franchises that can master each step not only drive owner uptake and completion of requirements but also build a deeper level of trust that reinstills franchisee confidence in your brand and his or her partnership.

By clearly outlining expectations and requirements from the start, keeping them simple and not overwhelming owners with multiple requirements at a time, and placing data at the forefront of the process, success for franchise owners becomes easier to manage, making future expansion and growth clearer and more attainable for both owners and franchisors.

New initiative? How to get your owners onboard.

You have the foundational brand expectations and requirements fine tuned and well established for your franchise owners. But let’s say you have a new business initiative, and it’s local store marketing (LSM) related. You send out a communication to your franchise system calling on locations to try out LSM and start using a platform to track success. However, after that communication goes out, only a handful of locations take up the initiative — if any do at all.

New business initiatives like this, and the communications that forward them, need to be more active on the part of the franchisor. Firstly, like those foundational requirements, franchisor communications need to clearly convey why a new business initiative is core to their success and why it is a fixed utility (like operations or insurance). Therefore, such an initiative has to be a requirement for franchisees to act on rather than an optional nice-to-have.

To achieve the fullest efficacy, franchise system communications need to be data-driven to illustrate the necessity of a business initiative. For example, if you want to start a company-wide fundraising initiative with local elementary schools, you must show your owners data comparing the sales franchise locations that implement fundraising efforts earn against locations that don’t implement any strategies. Then, you need to provide clear and actionable steps for owners to take — in this example, best practices for how to make contact with schools and build relationships. By making data the centerpiece of these communications, franchisors demonstrate that they are doing their due diligence, making an airtight business case, and are eager to help owners make the most money possible.

Ideally, you’d have owners both buy into an initiative and execute on it. However, with customer service taking the most immediate priority, franchisees have limited time and capacity to execute a new business initiative, like LSM, if it takes them out of their four walls. Don’t be discouraged as a franchisor here. Given the on-the-ground constraints owners face, franchisors instead need owners to buy into having a vendor execute an initiative for them. That way, owners can get onboard with upleveling their location’s performance while knowing that the franchisor will take execution off their shoulders.

Establishing a franchise culture that encourages owner buy-in and nurtures owners for the long term requires partners you can trust to make life easier for your owners — and the right technology. We’d love to walk you through our proprietary platform to show you exactly how LOMA can help you get your business initiatives off the ground and set your owners up for consistent, efficient success. Schedule a demo with our team to learn more today.

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