A foundation for success: Tips on how you can create a corporate culture that works for everyone.
By Mark Cottle
It is often said the goals of franchisees and franchisors are the same, meaning one cannot be truly successful without the other. Anything franchisors do to make running a business easier for their franchisees will ultimately pay off for them. One of the most important aspects of laying the foundation for franchise success is helping franchisees define their workplace culture.
Company culture can be abstract and hard to define for any brand, much less a franchise with satellite locations. If not clearly defined from day one, a culture can lack power and authenticity. A clearly defined culture helps to cement a mission that inspires loyalty and unity, which are essential to retaining great employees and running a successful business.
How can franchisors establish an effective corporate culture? And how can they ensure every franchisee feels bought-in to the shared mission and vision? The answer lies in proper vetting, established training, inclusivity and well-defined motives.
Culture That Sticks
One of the biggest issues that franchisors and franchisees have to contend with, particularly those not based in the foodservice industry, is the lack of central structure. Sometimes franchisees don’t have brick-and-mortar locations (at least right away), and their employees are part of a virtual workforce. While this helps to lower operating expenses, it can be tricky to establish a workplace culture when there is no workplace.
Regardless of industry or workplace circumstances, franchisors should take these steps to establish and maintain a company culture that sticks:
- Properly vet new franchisees – This is probably the trickiest thing to do for a new brand. We launched a franchising arm at Lendio just two-and-a-half years ago, and while we are thrilled with our progress, it takes a lot of time and diligent effort to identify, educate, on-board and instill the Lendio values across the country. The process of successfully vetting franchisees takes trial and error and fine-tuning. Franchisors must aim to hone their selection criteria as early as possible to determine what standards will bring in the best franchisees for their brand – particularly in the early years as these franchisees will be foundational to the future of the business.
- Establish training standards – Franchisors would do well to establish training standards up front, and then apply them through a hands-on approach. This process may take more time in the beginning, but a structured program with the right trainers helps position franchisees to train their employees. Once fully established, this formal training program can be utilized over and over again, both with new franchisees and their new hires.
- Be inclusive – Starting on day one, this means establishing open and consistent lines of communication. Discuss new developments in the company, new incentives and anything else that helps employees feel closer to the central mission(s) of the organization.
Motivate to Innovate
For many franchisees, one of the main motivators to leave the safety of corporate jobs or traditional work is a desire to give back to the community and see the direct impact they are making. Most if not all of Lendio’s new franchise owners cite this as the reason they joined our team. Knowing this has helped us underpin our approach to franchisee vetting, training, and inclusion. We tie all of it directly to the company’s mission to empower small businesses via access to capital. This kind of connection helps establish a franchisee culture that is in lockstep with our corporate culture. Having well-defined motives not only opens doors in new markets, but it also helps franchisees bring on (and retain) the quality employees they need to grow.
It is true that as a company expands, every new office (virtual or physical) will have its unique milieus based on location and team members. But by taking these steps as early as possible, a franchise can establish the foundation for success: a corporate culture that lends itself to being replicated over and over again.
Mark Cottle is executive vice president of franchising for Lendio.