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As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - Three Considerations for Ensuring Your Franchise Future

As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - Three Considerations for Ensuring Your Franchise Future

A recent article, "The Coming Recession: What Lessons Can We Learn in Advance," made a simple, but significant point. We have recessions here in the United States. We don't always know when they are coming, or how long they will last, but one thing is for certain, they happen. And when they do, franchise owners who have not paid attention to historical trends or developed a strategic plan for the next few years can suffer.

The franchise industry is on pace to have one of its fasting growing years in history. In fact, the International Franchise Association reported in August that in addition to the number of franchise establishments increasing by 1.6 percent this year, the gross domestic product (GDP) of the franchise sector will exceed that of the total US GDP. With all of this growth, many owners may not be looking to protect themselves against an economic or consumer shift - or a natural disaster such as Hurricane Maria, Irma, and Harvey.

 

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As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - Operations and Lending Impact Business Value

As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - Operations and Lending Impact Business Value

The last installment of this series is focused on lending and operations, and their importance in driving value in the business. In the first three articles, we focused on the overall value drivers in the business and then broke them down into the first two core value drivers of leadership and relationships. There is no question that leadership and relationships are the most critical value foundation of the business. However, the other two pillars are just as important to driving value in your multi-unit franchise organization:

Lending

Banks are going to want to know how strong your business is before they choose to invest in it (and you). When it comes to banks looking at the value of your franchise operation, they take into consideration subjective conclusions of borrowing capacity based on various criteria, including the three V’s of leadership:

  • Vision – Do you have a clear plan for use of borrowed capital? 
  • Values – Is there a positive impression of core values, character, etc?
  • Victories – Is there a track record of business successes that include borrowing money

It is important to understand that the bank’s impression of the business mission, strategic plan, character, competency, commitment of management and ownership continuity as they generally reflect on the bank’s confidence in your long-term business plan.

 

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As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - Three Relationships That Are Key To Success

As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - Three Relationships That Are Key To Success

Value is derived from a variety of areas within the organization. Understanding the value drivers is a critical component of ensuring long-term sustainability and success. The four key areas of focus, as outlined in “Building a Foundation to Weather the Storm” are relationships, lending, operations and leadership. Although leadership is one of the most important categories for long-term success, it is not the only one.

We discussed last time how leadership impacts value in the areas of generational management, recruiting and retention, successor identification, and development. This time, we are going to look at the area of relationships and drill down into how they impact the value of your franchise operations. As with any business operation, relationships are a critical piece of the complex multi-unit franchisee business puzzle. The franchise industry is one that relies on relationships more than many others because of the dependence on brand reputation and product quality.

Although there are a multitude of relationships that have impact on the success of a franchise, there are three that play directly into the value of your organization:

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As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - Success Requires More Than Operational Knowledge and Capital

As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - Success Requires More Than Operational Knowledge and Capital

Driving value in business is dependent on a variety of factors. Previously, we identified four key areas for building tangible and perceived value in a franchise operations:

  • Relationships
  • Lending
  • Operations
  • Leadership

All of these are critical but without strong leadership and operations, the ability to receive lending and build relationships will be impacted.

Leadership in today's organizations is drastically different than in prior generations. No longer can we rely on how it's been done to keep us moving forward into the future. Rather, there needs to be focused intentionality in areas where franchisees have never really had to pay much attention. Here are three areas in which leadership is changing and how you can set your franchise locations up for success.

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As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - Building a Strong Foundation to Weather the Storm

As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - Building a Strong Foundation to Weather the Storm

In the best of times, it's easy to look forward and have no fear as to what the future is going to bring. It's also easy to forget to take advantage of the good times to build a foundation that can withstand any potential future storm that might hit. In the worst of times, building this foundation can protect all that you have built, and hopefully help you weather the storm. A great example of this is taking a look back into history.

The economy tanked in 2008-2009. The markets affected most were those that not only relied on access to lending, but those that also relied on strong brands to pull them through. If you think back to the automotive manufacturing segment, Ford was the only manufacturer that weathered the storm, practically unscathed. The automotive retail industry, one of the hardest hit, had more than 1,200 dealerships collapse. Many of these were well recognized in their communities and top performers for the manufacturer. The dealerships that survived were able to, in part, thanks to the foundations that had been built long before the storm hit.

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As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - Getting Help From Those Who Have Been There

As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - Getting Help From Those Who Have Been There

My family and I recently took the plunge into the world of RV’ing. I enjoy operating all kinds of vehicles, so towing our new purchase round trip for the first time did not present too much concern, but I knew I’d have to be on my game. Anything new and different presents learning curves. One of the things I discovered soon, after plunging in, is the need for checklists. There are a variety of procedures and processes that must be in place and carried out for the RV to run properly, and to ensure that I do not kill someone on the roadway.

For instance, some of the procedures I had to learn included hooking up to the truck, unhooking and leveling the RV, putting out the slides and awnings, loading the motorcycles, dealing with the holding tanks and understanding black water, grey water, and fresh water. There is simply too much to do without a checklist, it would be very easy to make a misstep or forget something that could have a detrimental impact. In fact, if you think about it, there are a lot of instances in which checklists help ensure positive outcomes. Examples that come to mind are pilots and the checklists they use prior to flight, or captains of ships before they leave port. Surgeons have checklists to ensure they have all the proper supplies and staff before surgery, and each of your stores likely have opening and closing procedures organized in some sort of checklist. I’m sure you get the point.

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As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - Using Covenants To Build Teamwork and Performance

As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - Using Covenants To Build Teamwork and Performance

Contracts between parties have existed for centuries. Before contracts - there were agreements, or what we also call, covenants. Covenants go back to a time before our language was spoken or before words were printed. Old Testament biblical language showcases the first existence of a covenant between non-equal parties. I don't think anyone would make a case that Abraham and Yahweh were equals. Throughout history, we have seen how covenants have the power to transform. In business today, covenants play critical roles and they are especially powerful in privately owned businesses where relationships with outside influences, such as franchisors, have an impact on your success.

A covenant is an agreement between two parties wherein each agrees to what they are asking for, what they are offering, their commitment to live by their offer, and fulfill what is asked. The reason covenants add extreme value to the operation and growth of multi-unit franchisee businesses is sublimely simple: business leaders, managers, and employees need to make a plethora of decisions in the daily function. Covenants act as the foundation to which decisions are made, making the process simpler in the complex business environment of multi-unit/brand organizations.

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As Seen in NCM Institute - Think Like an Owner

As Seen in NCM Institute - Think Like an Owner

Ownership, as defined by Merriam-Webster, is the state, relation, or fact of being an owner. Often, those who feel ownership of something take special care and feel great responsibility for it. If we dissect the definition of ownership a little more, it does not necessarily mean that one must “own,” but rather, there is a mindset of being or acting like an owner.

This “ownership attitude,” or lack thereof, can be seen in many dealerships. Some leaders may not own stock in the dealership but have ownership in areas of strategic initiatives, team motivation and collaboration, and show emotional investment in the achievement of the dealership’s mission. On the other hand, some leaders show up, fulfill their responsibilities, and get the job done. However, if a better gig presents itself across the street, they don’t hesitate to take the opportunity.

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As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - Solving the "Rubik's Cube" of Business

As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - Solving the "Rubik's Cube" of Business

Have you ever attempted to solve a Rubik’s Cube? The three-dimensional multi-colored toy invented by Erno Rubick was never intended to be a “toy.” In fact, he developed it for the purpose of teaching students how to solve the structural problem of moving independent parts, without the entire cube falling apart. But the teaching tool became a wildly popular toy.

If you are like me, you have tried it and know that once you get one side right and try to figure out another side, you then have to mess with what you first thought you’d solved. A few know the secret but most, like me, become frustrated. When I ask clients if they’re able to solve it, I get responses such as “Sure, just unpeel the color stickers!”

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As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - Soft Skills Win In Work And Life

As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - Soft Skills Win In Work And Life

Have you ever wondered where the term "soft skills" came from? Personally, I often find myself curious of its origin because it seems like a contradiction at best, but worse, a poor use of phrasing. By referencing certain leadership/ownership skills as "soft," doesn't it seem we are devaluing them? Because in a complex business like multi-unit/brand franchising, things that are viewed as soft are often skills or attributes that cannot be measured. But soft skills impact the bottom line, growth, and people development - so there is nothing soft about them, right?

While the term's origin lies somewhere in the imprecise world of business tribal speak, its connotation has been around for quite some time. The Harvard Business Review listed concepts like goal-centric thinking, collaboration skills, communication skills, learning skills, troubleshooting, and playfulness as being vital for achieving success. The Cambridge University Press dictionary defines soft skills as, "people's abilities to communicate with each other and work well together." The unfortunate reality is that our team historically has run into multi-unit franchise owners who don't want to invest in something that sounds "soft."

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As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - Creating a Culture of Accountability Without Emotional Backlash

As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - Creating a Culture of Accountability Without Emotional Backlash

Power and position are two common traits leaders often lean upon to drive results. Somewhere in your past, you have likely experienced leaders who used some sort of power and position to motivate you. Depending on the situation, it may have helped you and those around you move the growth and performance needle. Today, you may also see how power and position motivates your employees and team to perform at a level that drives success throughout your organization. However, the use of power and position, if not managed properly, can create barriers to effective coaching and employee motivation to fulfill and exceed expectations. This has never been more critical than today, given the current generational shifts in the workplace.

Accountability is interaction designed to improve performance. Often, however, as owners or leaders, when we communicate with our team, we see a common communication style that comes across as critical. Perhaps we focus on and pick at weaknesses, areas of underperformance, and mistakes and bark out directives to get things done. After engaging in performance reviews, we see improvement in areas of underperformance - sometimes it sticks However, after a period of time, the mistakes or lack of attention begin to creep up again. Therefore, at the next review, we find ourselves talking about the same issues, and maybe even bringing the “hammer down” a bit harder. The reality of this tactic is that our employees check out and we foster a sense of insecurity. Our employees start to ask themselves if they can do anything right. They then start to operate out of malice compliance, which minimizes their motivation to go beyond the call of duty. We enforce a way of thinking that does the exact opposite of what we want. We therefore keep them from wanting to think outside of the box because they will likely be criticized versus rewarded for their efforts.

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David Ciambella featured in the Orlando Business Journal

David Ciambella featured in the Orlando Business Journal

Our CEO, David Ciambella, featured in Orlando Business Journal's People on the Move.  

Click here to learn more about The Rawls Group's CEO. 

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As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - Positional Versus Inspirational Leadership: Where Do You Fall?

As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - Positional Versus Inspirational Leadership: Where Do You Fall?

Leadership influences others' choices, priorities, and behavior. Historically, the ability to leverage power and position has been the models of what some would consider great leaders. As our industry evolves due to technological advancements, changing consumer behavior, and demographic shifts, position and power fall short in inspiring good people. There are too many competitors recruiting for good talent, whether it be hourly or senior level leadership positions, which is making it harder for you to retain movers and shakers in your organization. As a result, it's imperative to foster an environment where your people are inspired, respected, and empowered, making them to want to stick around. Power and position may create compliance in your organization but it will also create challenges in nurturing a sense of buy-in amongst your people to your organization's mission and vision. This can demotivate employee loyalty and their drive to go above and beyond the call of duty.

If you asked your employees and those around you to identify your leadership style, how would they answer? Would you be defined as someone that is comfortable managing with authority? Perhaps you are viewed as using strong discipline to motivate performance, or adversely, would you be viewed as being informative, empowering, and passionate? And if you were being very honest with yourself, would you be surprised by your employees' perception of you?

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As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - The Critical Difference Between Effective and Ineffective Leadership

As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - The Critical Difference Between Effective and Ineffective Leadership

Whether you're running your first and only location or multiple locations, leadership is all about the use of power and influence to produce results. Power and influence are also the keys to effective leadership. Power comes from the organizational chart - can you make people comply with your directives? (sometimes called accountability); and influence comes from inside the person - do you have what it takes to get people to commit to your dreams? (sometimes called dependability). How well and how often you choose between those two styles usually determines your effectiveness as a leader.

Knowing how to balance and when to use these two keys is critical. If you've populated your employee base with people who currently lack the behavior, attitudes, skills, knowledge, experience, and talent to meet your expectations then you will more than likely find yourself believing that the local unemployment index is too low and that someone else must have all the good people who live and work in your business communities. As a result, you may find yourself relying almost exclusively on power and accountability as a way of forcing your staff to comply with your directives to get even a close approximation of the results you want in terms of productivity and profitability.

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As Seen in NCM Institute - Generational Tensions: 4 Barriers to Automotive Leadership

As Seen in NCM Institute - Generational Tensions: 4 Barriers to Automotive Leadership

Ensuring the future success and sustainability of a dealership is not based solely on operational knowledge and efficiencies. In addition to creating robust processes, identifying and developing future leaders is critical to building sustainable dealership value. But first, you must overcome the leadership barriers that sabotage your goals..

In the past, when someone took on the position of “dealer,” it was assumed employees would fall in line and follow the owner’s lead. Today, with up to five generations working together at the same dealership, this expectation doesn’t hold true. Instead, good people check out or leave after a transition in leadership if they don’t feel respected for their contributions and see opportunities for growth.

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As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - Managing The Changes That Come With Multi-Unit Growth

As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - Managing The Changes That Come With Multi-Unit Growth

Growth is not only about driving more profit, it's also about building a portfolio of locations, and to many, a diversity of brands. In the beginning, it is very easy to devote all your time to the first location. But before you know it you are on to your second. You find you are able to split your time between the two and still run the operations as you wish. It's when you move into the third, fourth, and so on that you start to notice a change. Multiple locations for franchisees offer extreme opportunity, but without a growth plan, multi-unit and multi-brand ownership creates challenges to performance.

One of the biggest challenges is analyzing how you sustain growth, while also looking for continued expansion without killing yourself trying to be everything to every location, brand, or business unit. Regardless of the size or diversity of your business, when you look at your strategic plan in terms of where you would like to be, there are key questions that need answering to ensure you can support, sustain, and continue to grow.

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As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - Reputation Management On The Local Level

As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - Reputation Management On The Local Level

Like all businesses, the franchise world is full of opportunities and potential land mines. If you entered the franchise world for the same reasons I did, you were probably looking for something in your area of interest that met several criteria: brand recognition; proven market; franchisee friendly policies; and processes, services, or products that could be easily replicated once you paid your fees and had access to the brand's secrets. After all, isn't replicating the proven easier than starting alone from scratch?

In some ways, a franchise is a sail that pulls us along until we really know what we are doing and where we are going. Certainly, there are some tradeoffs, like giving up some control that non-franchisees have over their businesses. And many times, the level of influence you'd like to have over the business is just not possible because you do not hold the authority that comes with a privately held business operation. As a result, logos, color schemes, promotional materials, and menus become someone else's sphere of influence.

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As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee - Mapping Out The Road To Success

As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee - Mapping Out The Road To Success

The only thing that we can rely on to be constant is change. The political environment is forcing rapid change like we've never seen before. No question that technology continues to evolve in a way that forces us to embrace it or simply get left behind. Demographics are changing with a record number of Boomers who are set to retire in the next few years, causing anxiety for many about who may be their future leader..

A change in leadership brings with it, a distinct change in style. Everyone is unique with their own personality type that impacts inter-office relationship dynamics, how departments operate, as well as how the organization goes to market. There are differences in tastes, motivators, expectations of employees, and even what one views as success or failure. These changes in styles and leadership are going to become more abundant as newer generations develop and move into leadership roles in the workplace.

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As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee - A Trump Effect On Your Estate Taxes?

As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee - A Trump Effect On Your Estate Taxes?

While it is still way too early to know what the Trump administration is going to do to change the federal estate tax laws, we do know President Trump stated on the campaign trail that he will eliminate estate taxes and we also know how Congress has acted in the past. So let's have a little fun speculating and assuming.

When it comes to the estate tax issue, Republicans claim they are against this tax and Democrats favor it. However, the largest reduction of estate taxes occurred in 2011 under President Obama. During this time, the estate tax laws were amended to increase the exemption per person to $5,000,000 including an annual escalator of the exemption based on inflation. As a result, in 2017, the estate tax exemption has increased to $5,490,000 per person or almost $11M per married couple. Due to the amendments in 2011, the estate taxes today are the lowest ever and affect less Americans than ever before, approximately 0.5 percent of the population. Politically this has been a tough out, since it doesn't affect most voters. Nevertheless, if your estate will have to pay estate taxes, you'd just as soon not.

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As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee - Moving From Planning To Executing

As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee - Moving From Planning To Executing

No one really knows the outcome of anything and we are seeing that play out in our country’s current political stage. Too often this keeps us from strategically planning for where we want our business to go and what we want from it in the future. However, the unknowns and the unpredictable should not keep us from looking forward, rather, they enforce the need to constantly be planning strategically towards your goals and vision.

We use excuses such as “the unknowns” to stop us from executing plans. Or believe that because we cannot predict something, we cannot guarantee if we will be successful or not. However, not planning and not executing means that we are in limbo, which means the odds of accomplishing great things are pretty bleak. Strategic planning guarantees that you place your franchise business in the position of being agile and flexible when the unknowns and the unpredictable hits. This is a much better alternative than yo-yoing with the market and political changes over which we have no control.

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