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Creating Franchisee Leaders Through Mentoring

LITTLEBRANT: “A mentor is absolutely critical to anyone’s personal and professional growth, especially multi-unit franchisee owners and management. No matter where you stand in a company, you need to have someone to go to for advice that you feel comfortable and confident that they will provide you with the answer or resolution that you need. Multi-unit franchisee leaders are no different—they need someone who is accessible and willing to help them reach their professional goals.
My wife and I started in the fitness industry more than 35 years ago and took what we learned from coaching high school and college-level sports and applied it to business. By mentoring and coaching Gold’s Gym owners and management this way, we have built some of the greatest multi-unit franchisee leaders in the Gold’s Gym system.
Think back to when you were a kid and played sports—what was the first thing you did after making a big play? You turned to the coach to make sure he noticed. To build leaders, mentors or coaches, you should always be active by attending regular meetings, providing the tools necessary to grow, setting and tracking goals and providing sound advice. Having mentors like this in place for your multi-unit owners or management will significantly increase their chances of success.

RENTON: “As a multi-unit operator for five different concepts, including Nestlé® Toll House® Café by Chip and Häagen-Dazs Shops, mentors have played an important role in my success and that of our company.

My first experiences with mentors were as a young engineer in the mining industry. My mentors often saddled me with more responsibilities than I could reasonably handle and although I made a few mistakes, most importantly, I had the opportunity to learn from these mistakes.
That is a crucial aspect to a mentor; someone who is able to guide you on the path of success, while allowing you to take control and drive your own future in the process.
When I became a QSR franchise partner in 2006, I was able to connect with people who clearly were operating their businesses at a much higher level than the norm. Their experience and advice was essential in helping our company learn, understand and maximize the franchise model within our own operations. It is because of these mentoring relationships and our efforts to continually improve the model that we have been able to grow our business.
It is just as important to repay the favor. I now mentor others from time to time who do not yet have the full range of experiences necessary to base their decisions. So the story goes full circle. The mentored is now the mentor and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

TEWS: “What makes one successful as a single-unit franchisee is not the same set of skills that will make one successful as a multi-unit owner. A multi-unit franchisee must establish themselves as an operational and sales director rather than as a hands-on operator. 

Operational and sales goals and measurements need to be established and communication methods need to be set in place. A multi-unit operator is not going to be able to rely on his personal engagement to influence success in a distant office to the same degree as he was able to do as a single-unit operator. The daily duties at the first location will need to be delegated to others as time will need to be dedicated to director roles. This transition is not always an easy one, but critical for multi-unit success.
Having a mentor relationship with someone who has gone through the transition from single-unit operator to a multi-unit owner is extremely valuable. A franchise system may have strong training for single-unit operator franchisees, but lack training to instill the skills needed to succeed with multiple units. The mentor, by sharing experiences that worked well and those that failed, assists the mentoree to develop his own transition plan, understand the different mindset of a multi-unit owner and bounce the results of those efforts off the mentor as he progresses. The longer nature of a mentoring relationship allows both parties to develop over time as trust and understanding grows.
Being a mentor has also made me a better multi-unit owner. Through telling the story of our process used to manage multi units and listening and problem-solving with a mentoree enables me to continually evaluate and improve the way we measure, operate and reinforce strong performance in our units.


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