I assumed that when I bought my franchise I had bought a system and the Franchisor would help me with every aspect of running a business. How wrong was I. It was true that I had training and in the beginning there was an Operations Business Consultant (OBC) in store with me but that only lasted 4 days. Yep, after that he had another store to open so he left me there with my store and my team.
I remember it feeling like the first time I drove on my own after getting my drivers license. No-one in that seat beside me. I was left to my own devices to make decisions.
And so it should be. I had bought a business so therefore it was mine to run. I had bought a system and it was up to me to implement. I needed staff therefore it was up to me to employ them. But surely, someone could help me with this couldn’t they? The answer is yes. So here are four ways to make the most of your operational support.
Know what is in the system you bought
It is very overwhelming when you buy into a franchise system. You have to learn a lot of things very quickly and on top of that you have to start operating your business. The first six months or so are chaotic. But it can become less chaotic when you go looking into the manuals that came with the system. Be sure that you are familiar with all that they contain because chances are there are many tools in these manuals that can help you. Sometimes you have to run the business for a while and actually encounter a problem before you go looking for a solution.
Implement the system you bought
One of the most common mistakes I see franchisees make is they are too busy being busy and they forget to implement the system they bought. They know all the systems, processes and forms are there, but they are just too busy to get to it. Trust me, take the time! I know from first hand experience that you can get caught up in jumping from one crisis to another, but most times if you take the time to implement the process, then the crisis may never have happened.
Implement the system as it is detailed in the manuals. Give the franchisor the benefit of the doubt that the system is workable. After all, they have been running the process for some time before they decided to franchise. Don’t try to change it. Implement it, work with it then refine it if you need to.
Nurture the relationship with your Operations Business Consultant
Remember the old saying that you win more friends with honey than you do with vinegar. Well it is never truer than when dealing with your operations business consultant. Firstly, you are both there to help each other, so nurture the relationship. Take the time to get to know him/her. See how they operate their day. Do they read their emails early in the day or late? When is the best time to call them? How do they prefer to communicate? I know it is hard when everything is going wrong, but yelling at your Ops consultant won’t fix the problem, nor will it help you to find an answer. You are not the only person they look after – you are one of many so find out how to work best with him or her.
Ask for help when you need it
This is a big one and one that I probably didn’t do enough. No-one knows what is actually going on at your store. The franchisor is not there so he doesn’t know. But for you the problem is very real and unless you ask the questions, no-one will be able to help you solve it. Quite often other franchisees are having similar problems and there is always someone who has been quite ingenious in solving it. Make the most of being in a franchise system. Take part in the communication panels. Attend the franchisee meetings – your business will always benefit.
Elizabeth Gillam founder and CEO of Franchisee Success creates High Performance Franchisees. Having owned and operated three franchised food businesses; Boost, Healthy Habits and Bucking Bull; she knows what it takes to operate a profitable food franchise. In her recent book, Upsize your PROFIT – 6 steps to running a profitable food franchise she outlines how franchisees can ACE their franchised business unit.