Building a Culture of Accountability in Franchising
Accountability is not a finish line; it is a necessity to foster a culture of performance within an enterprise.
Accountability is one of the traits in a company’s culture that differentiates an outstanding enterprise from a sea of satisfactory organizations. Building a culture of accountability in franchising takes mutual commitment and dedication from both the franchisor and franchisee at the outset of the relationship. There are four main pillars of the accountability building process that must be established to build, grow and maintain a culture of accountability throughout the duration of the partnership: knowledge and understanding of the business model, availability and introduction of tools of accountability, establishment of expectations, and reinforcement and reciprocation.
Teaching the Business Model
From the first conversation or meeting between a franchisor and a potential franchisee, the franchisor’s primary goal should be to educate the potential franchisee about the franchise offering and to explicitly communicate the brand’s business model, target audience, mission and vision. In addition to visiting the corporate headquarters and several of the brand’s franchise locations to become familiar with the business, the prospective franchisee should spend time with operators who live and breathe the brand on a daily basis to gain an understanding of the heart and soul of the brand to which they are considering committing their resources and time.
The franchisee’s decision to sign an agreement with a brand should come only after a very thorough understanding is established of the brand’s identity, in addition to its performance and operations expectations, the brand’s promise to its customers and the brand’s measures of success. It is the franchisor’s responsibility to ensure that the prospective franchisee is not only well-versed in the business model, but most importantly, faithfully committed to executing the brand promise by operating his business in accordance to said business model.
The initial meeting between franchisor and franchisee is also the time for the franchisor to explain what the franchisee can expect from the brand in terms of support, training and guidance throughout the relationship. The franchisee must take the time to ask questions pertaining to the expectations of the brand’s involvement in day-to-day operations and must voice any areas of concern. The initial mutual understanding sets the expectation of accountability from the beginning; both the franchisee and the franchisor understand what is expected of them and the other party.
Tools for Accountability
Once mutual understanding of the business model and commitment to its execution are established, it’s the franchisor’s responsibility to provide the tools to facilitate accountability for their franchisees. Franchisors are responsible for providing thorough operations and management training of their new franchisees to set clear operations, brand and performance expectations. Franchisors should also provide simple and concise brand standards for franchisees, in multi-lingual format, to facilitate the communication of these standards to each franchisee’s staff members. Tools and resources should include training manuals, sales and marketing materials and online learning modules for management and line-level staff alike. Franchisees, in turn, are responsible for asking questions where any doubts exist regarding expectations and should be empowered to actively learn and utilize the available tools to sharpen the management and operational skills of their teams.
Inspect What You Expect
After communicating clear standards and expectations of franchisees and giving them the tools to succeed in building their own business, franchisors should be mindful to follow up on the expectations they have set forth. It is important for franchisors to conduct regular site visitations to discuss each individual franchisee’s performance and goals. To grow accountability on a larger scale, it is highly beneficial to conduct regional meetings with groups of franchisees and subsidiary operators to share best practices, concerns, issues, performance – and to gain feedback from franchisees on a company’s performance as a franchisor.
A franchisor should use these meetings to encourage candid discussions about any possible shared franchisee concerns and to listen carefully to any feedback from franchisees. Likewise, franchisees should be prepared to openly voice any operational challenges, in addition to sharing best practices and lessons learned with their fellow franchisees. Of course, franchisors should also organize gatherings on an annual basis to bring all franchisees together for ongoing training and to communicate the company vision, goals and current performance.
Accountability is not a finish line; it is a necessity to foster a culture of performance within an enterprise. Recognition is a powerful reinforcement tool, and franchisors should be mindful to recognize and reward franchisees for demonstrating accountability and corresponding performance results.
Franchisors who desire to cultivate accountability privately may recognize franchisees on an ongoing basis with encouragement for a job well done. Recognition may also take place on a larger, more public scale, such as presenting performance awards during the company’s annual conference. Franchisors may also reward accountability by providing opportunities for top-performing franchisees to serve in leadership positions on the company’s franchisee board or in mentorship positions for other franchisees.
Most importantly, franchisors and franchisees should recognize that accountability is a two-way street. The best way for a franchisor to reinforce a culture of accountability in an organization is by by being accountable as a franchisor. The best franchisors build strong relationships, respect and a culture of accountability by practicing what they preach and being responsive to requests for support and receptive to feedback from their franchisees.
Mike McGeehan is vice president of franchise operations for G6 Hospitality, which owns, operates and franchises 1,100 economy lodging locations under the Motel 6 brand and the extended stay Studio 6 brand. Find him at fransocial.franchise.org via the directory.