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In business we all have a duty of care to some degree, we also have to make a profit at some stage by providing a product and or service that’s what makes us a business and not a charity.

In franchising I see it that the duty of care is still there, its perhaps very different to working directly with an employee but it still exists. In some areas Franchisors have been criticised for some of their practices and over time regulators have put in a lot of work to ensure unscrupulous operators are out of the system or not supported, by putting into place some devices to make their business be seen as one that cares at a deeper level will only assist them in sales and their longevity in the market place. If the duty of care is lacking there can be issues arise that cause more friction and pain than good will and esteem.

So what sorts of things can they do to bolster their duty of care?

1. Stop the churn – Churning is a term used to describe a person giving up their territory and the main company reselling it at a future time, so they get a number of start up fees from the one territory. This great for them but not for the person trying to sell their territory. it causes a sour feeling for the seller and perhaps some tension from the franchisors side, over time the wound may well heal but the stigma remains. if they had worked with the initial owner to create a business that was glowing, and perhaps create a ‘passive income’ then they would not have to sell, in fact they would have created an asset of greater value.

2. Make the start up better – Sure new franchisees get training and before the training is the sales process. What if before the sales process came a due diligence checklist? Or a guide to what makes a successful franchisee in their business… It would be great to have info that showed a scenario of how to make the business work rather than a risky stab in the dark. It could also be a model of how to operate the business if they get into it. It serves two purposes, to inform as to how the business might run, and as a qualifying device to pick the right franchisee and not just any franchisee. Take it further and insist they spend at least a week or two helping out another franchisee, then ask if they really want to do it, find out the whys and why nots and build on that to make the business stronger. Even go so far as to provide them with a simple financial checklist or spreadsheet, that shows the average costs of running the business and then do some financial from there, it could be an excel preadsheet they use ont he computer to punch in various figures to see what they could make, not trying to figure out roughly what’s possible.

3. Train better – It’s one thing to learn about a product or service but another to learn about business skills, even if you have some already. Business is such a diverse device that one type of business may not mean the skills are transferable. Role plays, scenarios and various practical examples can be useful as well as the mechanics of leadership, finances, marketing, HR and so on. The more info you get to work with the better. Then add to the training later on, seminars, franchise group meetings and conventions go some way to doing this so make it a feature.

4. Communicate more – So you have a new franchisee, a contact at head office and over time they get disgruntled and you wonder why… make the effort to have the team keep in contact, when you contact them they say, “We would be more productive if you head office people did not keep calling us!! Ha ha! but hey keep it up the support is great!” An email occasionally is nice, a newsletter okay, but the real McCoy of face to face or over the phone contact regularly makes a real difference. Be there for the franchisee, not just pay lip service to it so they can really sense you care.

5. Use your FAC – The franchise advisory council or whatever you choose to call it, should be a vital link to the inner workings of your organisation. It should be the guide to improvement, the quality development device that you call on to get momentum happening. Lets face it the franchisees are the customers to the franchisor so the FAC becomes the focus group to learn from. Well trained FAC’s can become mentors, and get feedback from the people at the coal face.

6. OHS – In most cases where a duty of care is mentioned, Occupational Health and Safety is the area where it gets mentioned. The same here, all the above points are about caring for the franchisee physically and mentally. So consider using some form of OHS plan to find ways pf helping the franchisees. It may even be as obvious as showing them ways to boost their own OHS in the workplace and becoming “safety watch its” that may make a difference.

7. Minister and discipleship – Not totally in the religious sense, but in the setting of standards, the leadership of teams, the passing on of the “good word”. Be the way, the truth and the light… Be the person they respect as a leader, be the one who is the font of knowledge and is there with the right sort of advice and helping hand they need when they need it. It’s more of a holistic approach to caring and your role in the organisation as the leader. Consider it as mentoring, coaching, leading, ministering, discipleship and or anything else you care to call it, be their right hand and be it brilliantly!

8. Do the internal stuff – It’s one thing to work with the franchisees, but how often do you focus on your staff? How are they awarded and rewarded for their contribution above and beyond the $$ they earn. If the franchisees and prospective franchisees are doing their job they will notice the turnover of staff, any annoyances in the background etc. Your job No: 1. is to build the esteem of the internal team so that they glow with enthusiasm and delight at being part of your team and the things it achieves. Tey in turn will look out more for the franchisees and any issues they have more readily.

None of the above points are meant to be easy, in fact they might just add to your workload a little, However if you want your franchise business to be exceptional in all it does, these are a guide to finding the way forward and the franchisees will love the care and attention you show.

Steve Gray - Steve is a business educator - Trainer - Speaker (Steve Gray.biz). You can get his Leadership E Book from http://theleadershipguy.com.au The info provided in these articles is for educational purposes only and is intended as a starting point for you to build your business from, not as specific advice.
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