Franchising · 17 May 2016

Franchising A-Z: Coaching –  Empowering franchisees to achieve their goals

Training is one of the key elements a franchise needs to get right
Coaching provides support and guidance for franchisees

Continuing our franchising series, expert David Burton identifies that “C” is for “coaching” – a necessary step to building a functional and productive working relationship with franchisees.

In the second article in this series we explored “B” for “business model”. As an aspiring franchisor you’ve proven your business model to be both successful and transferable. You’ve developed and documented your operating systems and processes and you’re moving from an operator fulfilling services for your consumers to becoming a franchisor. A fundamental, cultural and organisational shift in orientation and purpose has to be achieved in order to be successful.

The franchisor’s function is essentially to recruit investors (franchisees), train them in the successful execution of your system and help develop skills and proficiency in the pursuit of achieving a healthy return on their investment in your franchise.

Having a functional and productive initial and ongoing relationship with your franchisees is essential for the successful repetition of this process to achieve sufficient mass to become a successful franchisor.

The goal therefore is to build a functional and productive working relationship with your franchisees. This sounds simple enough and on face value it is but it’s not always easy to achieve. The relationship between franchisor and franchisee is of a unique nature.

Franchisees are not employees. They come to you from a wide range of different backgrounds with lots of different experiences and motivations and you are not their boss or manager. Although both of you are bound by the terms and conditions of the franchise agreement that exists between you, you’re not a partnership.

This is where the ability to become an effective coach built on trust, credibility and rapport adds significance and purpose to the softer, value-added benefits of buying into your system. The wide range of backgrounds and experiences means that the human support for your franchisees has to be much more dynamic than the specific technical or service proficiency that your system is built upon.

One size does definitely not fit all. The coach has to be able to understand and identify what needs to be said and done to bring out the best in each individual within the context of the franchisee-franchisor relationship. Coaches play the role of the critical friend providing solid advice and guidance, whilst looking at each situation objectively.

The level of coaching required will differ depending on the franchisees knowledge and experience. A seasoned investor with a portfolio of successful franchises may require less than a fresh-faced, first time franchisee. However, be prepared for anything as it is surprising how much support experienced investors may also need.

Qualified franchise professional Guy Strang is the brand operations manager for ServiceMaster Clean Contract Services. He said: “Coaching is not about doing it this way or that way but empowering the franchisee to make the right decisions that will lead to achieving their goals.

With many years in the contract cleaning industry, I have experienced problems and struggles but also many successes and I’m able to coach the franchise network to make the big decisions that will ensure they have a profitable business today, tomorrow and in five or ten years’ time,” added Strang.

Although the topics of coaching can be varied to suit a franchisee’s needs, the execution of coaching sessions should be formalised as part of your operational support programme. Provision of one-to-one coaching as part of regular visits should cover subjects such as general business management, recruitment, finance, people management, marketing and setting and achieving business plans and goals.

Of course there are numerous business coaches across the UK who provide a similar service with a good number of years’ experience behind them and indeed, some of them are very good. However, by providing this level and style of support to your franchise network as the franchisor, you can offer the best of both worlds – an external viewpoint to their individual needs but with the knowledge and experience of an internal resource.

Coaching provides support and guidance for franchisees and quite often the big decisions are the hardest to make but having a critical friend is a great way to ensure franchisees make sensible and rational choices to achieve sustainable growth.

Did you miss the last article in our franchising A-Z series? Read “B” is for “Business model” here.

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

David Burton is the communications executive at ServiceMaster, one of the UK’s longest established and largest multi-brand franchisors. With a background in public relations, he provides communications support to the 350+ ServiceMaster franchises and is an advocate for franchising as a proven route to business success.

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