A Commitment to Corporate Culture
In franchising, a strong culture is synonymous to success.
As a franchise continues to grow, there is more room for miscommunication. Unlike corporate brands, which have a direct line of communication that trickles down their chain of command, a franchise system has a network of franchisees who manage and oversee their respective locations. A CEO of a franchise brand can make a decision that he would like implemented system-wide, but ultimately, a franchisee has some autonomy in the way he chooses to follow and execute the business model to a certain degree. With that in mind, it is critical that companies take the steps necessary to preserve a strong corporate culture throughout the entire concept and all of its locations.
Overall, there has been a major shift in business since the 1990s as a result of several significant events that have occurred throughout the world. Corporate culture has become a trendier topic despite the fact that people can communicate with just a click of a button. Generation Y and Generation X are very different from each other and today’s progressive work force is more likely to thrive in a tightly knit, well-connected company. Given that fact, culture is quickly becoming one of the most important pieces of growing a successful business in today’s ever-evolving economy. There is no better use of time for a CEO than building a strong organizational cultural system to act as the central foundation for the company.
Create Value-Based Culture
When instituting a decision or process into a franchise model, leadership must realize that its decisions affect corporate team members, franchisees and guests alike. The most important aspects of the culture must be translatable throughout all of these layers to achieve the most precise and successful results.
Within the business world, there are two different models of culture: compliance-based and value-based. The first centers on dictating what to do, whereas the second centers on leaders sharing why the brand does what it does. The hope is that with the latter, the team will feel a shared ownership and commitment to the culture, thereby being inspired to act.
When crafting the elements of a culture, the most important takeaway is that the franchisor must be genuine and stand behind everything that it enforces with ethics, morals and a strong culture of doing the right thing, at the right time, to the right person. Should the culture lack inspiration or be perceived as inauthentic, it will lose its integrity and have its effectiveness severely impaired. This authenticity will be seen by franchisees and translated through the store level.
Culture starts and ends with the people who work for your company, which is why the hiring process is more important than ever. Menchie’s sifts through hundreds of applications to bring the right people into our family. We take the hiring process so seriously that sometimes people will be required to come in for as many as five to eight separate interviews at our headquarters to make sure they are the right fit for both the role and for our culture. Our main mission is making people smile so we look for individuals who truly care about people and want to make the world a better place.
The “Culture/Performance” to the right is a great business model to reference during the hiring process and when evaluating your team. As seen in the model, cultural fit and performance go hand-in-hand; however, you can have team members who might be aligned with a brand’s culture, but not necessarily be up to the company’s standards in terms of performance. While it is evident that the ideal candidate is on the upper right, it is important to understand how a less-than-ideal candidate might be converted to one, as long as the candidate is a culture fit. Overall, it is almost impossible to convert a Low C to a High C, but it is much more feasible to convert a lower-performing individual into a higher-performing individual as the person is already aligned with the company’s core values (High C) and wants to be there. All the person needs is the right leadership and guidance.
People have to feel that they are cared about in the environment they are in. Leadership needs to show compassion for its team members and appreciation for all of their hard work. For example, Menchie’s occasionally leaves $10 gift cards on our team members’ desks as a simple way to say “thank you.”
My team is my No. 1 priority. Every birthday is celebrated and I personally make myself available to any person who wants to talk to me and will make time to see that person the same day. A great example of how compassion and caring can achieve success can be found in the book “It’s Your Ship” by Michael Abrashoff. The scenario presented alludes to a Navy ship that was underperforming. A new captain came on board and he took the time to get to know everyone and showed people that he cared. As a result of this culture shift, one man turned the ship into a top-performing culture. He achieved this by changing the culture, not by employing weapons or tactics. This is the power of organizational culture.
Along with employee benefits and perks, an organization needs to promote individual growth and have its best-performing team members’ interests at heart. If someone is performing well, leadership needs to acknowledge this and promote him. Companies can get comfortable keeping someone in a specific role because the person is good at it, but ultimately, leadership needs to realize what benefits the business comes second to the personal development of each team member. Companies do not create products, people do.
Strong leadership cannot happen if people do not follow or believe in who you are and what you do. Do not promote an individual in the hopes of creating leadership; instead, only acknowledge and reward an individual who is already leading and commands the respect of those working with him.
“The Peter Principle,” a business theory book by Canadian researcher Laurence Johnson Peter, describes the misjudgment of promoting someone to a role that he may not be a fit for merely and solely because he excelled in his current role. This is the opposite of what an organization should do. Franchise leadership should evaluate what its team members are best at and develop the team accordingly, while maximizing their full potential and allowing them to grow with the team members’ best interests in mind.
Business is not easy. If it was, anyone would do it. In franchising, a strong culture is synonymous to success. One must ensure that every layer of the organization is living and breathing this value-based culture, leaving each franchisee and his team members inspired to deliver sustained, long-term success for the brand.
Amit Y. Kleinberger, is CEO of Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt, a leading self-serve frozen yogurt franchise with 400 stores in the United States, Australia, Canada, China, India, Japan, the United Arab Emirates and more. Find him at fransocial.franchise.org.