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Learning Together Leads to Success

Fully leverage the resources of your franchise partner and tap into franchisees’ management skills.

Having stood on both sides of the fence as a franchisee and as a member of the franchisor’s corporate team, I’ve discovered that there is a lot each side can learn from the other.

If you’re part of an experienced franchise system, you can benefit from the best practices it offers. Many times, these business standards and processes have been developed through the work of other franchisees’ in the system. Learning from other franchisees successes − and mistakes – can save you tremendous time and money.

It helps to remember that the franchisor wants a cohesive operational platform with a consistent look and outcome for all of its stores, which can be a challenge, particularly when you’re an existing shop that is joining a franchise group. When you’re an independent, entrepreneurial business owner, it isn’t always easy to adapt your way of doing things to the franchisor’s processes.

My nearly 30 years of experience as a franchisee and now a member of the corporate team has taught me how to maximize the benefits offered in the franchise system while maintaining the entrepreneurial spirit that made my store successful. I was able to participate in a number of business committees offered by my company, and this not only helped my business, but I was able to help the company shape its development and growth.

Learning from other franchisees’ successes − and mistakes – can save you tremendous time and money.

Leveraging Your Franchise Partner

As you operate your business, here are several ways you can more fully leverage the resources of your franchise partner:

Volunteer to serve on every committee that the franchisor has. By committing to this work, you can have input into ongoing growth of the company. It will create valuable insight and builds relations with the franchisor.

Pay attention to collaborative efforts and develop a team-building attitude in working with the corporate divisions. Learn how to integrate into the system and maintain your entrepreneurial spirit. A great franchisor will embrace this and utilize the skills of the franchisee base to enhance the franchise system.

Don’t overlook the value that the franchisees offer in managing the company.

Immerse yourself in the franchise system and participate in all of the programs offered. Your personal franchise should be a model to the rest of the franchise system. Your operation will then garner attention from other franchisees who will respect your example. Be willing to share your experiences with other franchisees, and in turn they will share with you.

Seek a position on the franchisor’s national board or a franchise association. Nurture relationships on such boards, as these can be learning experiences.

Educate yourself on industry trends and hone your management skills by attending classes sponsored by your industry or local college. Education in communication, conflict management, public speaking, problem resolution, corporate management structure and finance can help you more effectively lead your business and understand the corporate initiatives of your franchisor.

Tapping into Franchisee Management Skills

Franchisors cannot overlook the value that the franchisees offer in managing the company. Here are several suggestions for franchisors who I’ve learned since joining the corporate team:

Do as much listening as possible, and talk with franchisees of all sizes before implementing programs and standards. Don’t just talk with the owner – talk with the manager, assistants and hourly employees for a true perspective on the business.

Plan key initiatives with an eye on the impact first at the store level, not just for the company overall. This helps create a common understanding that leads to success on both sides of the fence. What might not seem like a major project for a company can be a big undertaking for a single operator who is focused on the daily running of their business.

Walk a mile in the franchisees’ shoes. Work in their shops and help them serve their customers to truly understand their daily challenges and needs – and how the franchisor can help.

Be proactive in reaching out to the franchisees. If there is an issue brewing in the industry, get on the phone, get in the car or get on a plane to address it head-on rather than hiding behind the corporate team.

Spend your franchisees’ money as if it were your own. Many franchisees operate on slim margins and work hard to make every dollar count. Always evaluate every program and initiative from the value it can bring to each and every franchisee.

By being fully engaged as a franchisee, you can reap all of the benefits offered by the company, and have a greater voice in how the company grows and succeeds in the future. And by being a franchisor who is closely attuned to the daily operations of its franchisees, you’ll be able to collectively plan and manage the company to achieve everyone’s goals.

Soon, you won’t see yourself on one side of the fence or the other. Rather, the gate will be open and you’ll be working together toward greener pastures. n

Dean Fisher, founder of CARSTAR Yorkville in Yorkville, Ill., and the 2012 CARSTAR franchisee of the year award winner, now serves as vice president of field services and operations for CARSTAR Auto Body Repair Experts. Find him at via the directory.

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