Franchise Even-handedness

Opened Book In Hand Stock Image  By phanlop88, published on 15 March 2013 Stock Image - image ID: 100147306

Franchise Even-handedness


In the world of franchising, there is no more damaging action than a side deal or special perks for a long-time franchisee from an executive in the franchise.  Every franchisor is thankful for the people who looked at the franchise and jumped in feet first on the recommendation of the founders and did well.

Thankfulness is one thing.  Being blind to putting that franchisee high up on a pedestal and not enforcing the rules evenhandedly is when real damage is done.

I could tell a million stories about deals that hit franchises hard because the founders wanted to show deference to a franchisee who has been in the system since the beginning or even just years longer than other franchisees.  I could also tell you stories, great stories, about franchisees who have been in a system for decades and still listen, learn, and help new franchisees out when they can.  Business is a choice.  How you treat your business is the split in the road.

Bulldog Rule for Business #9 You may not be the best person for the job goes right to the center of the problem.  You, as the leader of the franchise, may be the wrong person to be in charge because you are too close to the situation and can’t or won’t see the damage that you are causing to newer franchisees by being best buddies with the ones who helped start the brand.  We are all that way in some part of our lives.  As a leader, you affect more than just the relationship between yourself and franchisee.

  • If you can’t take bad news or even critical news about a franchisee you have known for a long time and deal with it like you would a new franchisee, then you are the problem.
  • If you “shoot the messengers” for the problems of the franchisees, then you are the problem.
  • If can’t see all franchisees as part of the chain and that they all need to follow the system the same way, then you are the problem.
  • If you can’t act the same with a franchisee who just joined as you do with a franchisee who has been in the system for a decade or more, then you are the problem.
  • If you would be sued for giving special treatment to a franchisee, then you are a BIG problem.

I have personally listened to franchise CEO’s give speeches about firing themselves if they were seen as the problem.  Funny thing about that is that they won’t step down and they won’t change their ways because they don’t see themselves as the problem.  So, the problem persists and the chain suffers.  If you have great employees leaving often, then you need to take a good hard look at things.

If I was interested in a franchise to invest in, I would spend my due diligence calling the newest franchisees, franchisees who have been in the system for a year, and a couple who have been in the chain for five or more years.  If I can’t get enough franchisees to call from the franchisor, then I wouldn’t buy in.

Questions to ask a franchisee who is new to a system would be:

  • Did you get what you were promised when you started?  Training, help with real estate, a person to call with questions, and more get promised by the development manager.  All of those items are needed to make you successful.  If you don’t get at least that much help, then sell fast and walk away from the franchise.  It is indicative of bigger problems that will grow over time.
  • A few months after opening, were you connected with a franchisee who has been in the system for years who can be a mentor?  Finding someone who has already been in the system and lived through the rough patch of starting out can make a big difference.
  • Is the mentor they paired you with someone who would remember what it was like when they started?  Build a business from scratch is a lot different than a business that has regular customers and strong base who know the brand.  I see this mistake more often than I like.  It is the “Big Brush Off” from the franchisor.  They figure that a franchisee who has been in the system for a while has the time and the desire to help other franchisees.  In fact, they may want to knock a new franchisee down to limit any competition.
  • Can you give feedback that gets a response?  I listen to franchisees.  It is how I am most effective in getting results.  If they don’t feel like anything is getting done to make changes to build the brand, franchisees become disgruntled and cause problems in order to be heard.  One way or another, franchisees will be heard.

I want to say that I have personally witnessed changes at the top of a franchise that have made the culture in the franchise grow.  But, I can’t.  There are so few times when changes to the way franchisees are treated that I have not seen it work or work well.  It happens but it usually takes a complete gutting of the executive team.  It doesn’t need to happen that way, but the power structure of a franchise is what makes it tough.  Why would a CEO change how he/she treats franchisees if it didn’t personally affect him/ her?  No one under the CEO will tell, so nothing changes for the better.

Step back, look at things as if you weren’t in charge, and give yourself the advice you would give someone who is sledding down a slippery slope thinking its a fun ride.  Rides end.  Being at the bottom is a tough climb back to the top when you could have stepped back sooner and made things right.

Bob Griffin – Chief Bulldog-in-Charge

Reaching Goals Without Money


I failed. I admit it. I failed.

I wanted to help franchisees in Atlanta, GA raise funds for Children’s Miracle Network and I did not hit my goal. The funds were to be used to buy equipment that would help in the rehabilitation process when a child loses a limb and needs to relearn how to move to get around, grab an object, or even dance. And, I failed to raise the money.

What happened? Why did I not get the donations that would buy the tools kids needed to live full lives? I was focused on the wrong things. How many times have you had a goal and you failed to reach it? Every person fails to reach a goal. It is human nature to push for goals. We all want to win. But, somewhere along the line we miss the mark because we misspent our capital.

You can spend money or time and effort to reach a goal. You can hire people to help you reach your goals. Money goes a long way to covering ground when you want to stand on the top of the mountain and declare a win. As for me, I was looking to raise funds, so it seemed to be counter productive to spend money to raise it. Just like in the model where money is spent to reach a goal, you can find others to help you. I spent my own time and effort to reach the goal and I didn’t look for others to help me.

What would I do differently?

  • Get the message right.  I had a lot of good ideas, but I was a mess when I was asked to explain the process of raising funds.  Figure out, in the shortest way possible, the words to explain what you are doing, why, and where someone can help donate.
  • Ask others to get the word out.  I tried this, but didn’t get the power players involved to give it a strong push.  I should have asked the executive team to mention it in their circles.
  • Look for people who have the same goal.  Reach out on social media and ask.  Combining your goal with someone else’s goal doesn’t diminish your goal.  It makes it bigger.  If you can partner with someone to reach an even bigger goal, do it!
  • Make it easy to find you.  I set up a Facebook page and sent everyone there.  I also set up a Twitter account.  I was bad at keeping them updated.  Spend time each day updating your social media accounts.  Giving someone a consistent message shows them you are serious and organized.
  • Celebrate the people who are helping you.  Speak to them often and in front of the rest of the group.  I should have thanked the group who joined my cause and asked for updates on who they talked to about it.  That way, they would know I would ask and be open to having a discussion with someone new so they could talk with me about it.

Reaching a goal is a tough proposition when you don’t create the plan.  I didn’t plan well and I didn’t hit my goal.  Save yourself from the same fate.  Plan, follow up and implement changes to keep on track.  The biggest thing to remember is that you don’t have to reach for goals alone.  In fact, asking for help is easier now than ever before and there are always people ready to help.  Even halfway across the world, people are ready to help.

What have you failed at and was it money or time and effort that would have made the difference?

Bob Griffin

Darwin’s Theory in Franchising


Darwin was right. Survival of the fittest is the mantra of every living organism and that includes business. It is especially true in franchising where fresh new operators jump into open waters under the watchful gaze of the franchisor. Awash in the blissful wave that is the Franchise Agreement, franchisees feel safe that someone will rescue them if something goes wrong. This is where Darwin’s theory smacks them upside the head with a thud.

The problem is that safe in business is not a reality you will find. Did you ever think that some of the big-box retailers would go out of business? Of course not. Were you thinking bigger is safer? That’s wrong and so is buying a franchise and thinking you are safe.

Want to be safe in business? You have to work for safety. There is risk in everything and the quicker you realize how fast things can turn upside down, then better your business will be. The only constant in life is CHANGE. Darwin knew that and he applied it to animals. I know it and I see it every day in business.

As we have mentioned many times here at Business Bulldog, there are really three areas to pay attention to in your business:

  • The Leadership
  • The Employee Team
  • The Marketing

You may notice that no where on that list is there a parachute with the franchisor’s name on it. That’s because you bought the right to use a system, not the right to be saved from failure. Now do not get me and the team at Business Bulldog wrong, the franchisor wants you to succeed. They make more money when you make more money and they get to survive another day right along side of you. Some franchises though are not set up for rescue missions. We have worked with plenty of them and cried with the families who lost everything.

Jumping back a couple of paragraphs, I mentioned that you can work for safety in business. Here is the secret to that safety in a franchise…follow the system. Sound simple? The franchisor has already lost a ton of money on how to do things wrong. If it is a good franchise, it will change over time to meet the new needs of customers. Follow the system and be prepared to follow the three steps above. Focus on what will strengthen what you already have and your business will live another day.

The question you need to ask is, “Are you the right person to be a franchisee?”

If you are going to get into a franchise, think like Darwin. Are you the strongest you can be to jump into the pool and keep your head above water? Can you survive the first of many attacks by competition, vendors, and customers? Your franchise may not be able to help you fast enough or understand what is happening in your local area. There are more questions like this that you can ask, but the main question is, “Are you the right person to be in business under contract with a franchise and grow a business that you are comfortable with?”

How dare I say that some of you won’t make it in a franchise? That seems to be the million dollar question. That is, a million dollars you can earn or lose. I would rather tell someone they aren’t ready to be in a franchise than let them flop around like a fish out of water with the hope they learn to breathe. Darwin had it right. There are groups of people who make it and thrive and there are groups that disappear. The world of business is ugly and does care if you really, really want to be a business owner. Failure happens more often than success. It has always been that way and it always will be. Franchising is best suited for a follower/ leader – yes, that is the same person. Is that you?