Today’s topic, on why and what franchisors should do to assist their new franchise partners in ramping up and becoming the best franchise partners they have ever signed on, truly excites me. I assure you that you won’t want to miss this.
One of the first things I did as a master franchisee, and the first master franchisee for a worldwide franchise coach at a franchised coaching and training organization, was to develop a program I dubbed the “Kickstart.” The importance of the first six months of a new franchise partner’s startup is something I learned over the years, even if it was probably not one of the first things I did.
I discovered that there is a 50/50 probability that they will succeed if they do not have a solid start in the first, let’s say, four to six months. If they do succeed, it will take them between 18 and 2 years to get there. Since their initial experience wasn’t great, they aren’t the best franchise partners long term. Additionally, they weren’t truly proficient in the tasks that were necessary for a successful franchise and a successful firm.
As a result, I created a startup program that I dubbed my Kickstart program. And after years of effectively doing this, I’ve come to the conclusion that this served as a transitional step for new franchise partners from employment to franchise ownership, from being an employee to being a business owner, from having an employee attitude to having an owner perspective. When we deal with new franchise candidates, whether you’re an emerging brand and existing franchisor or a franchise broker consultant, what we’re dealing with in reality is 70, 80, or maybe even as much as 90% of our candidates are coming from a background where they’ve been an employee there their entire life, or at best, maybe they had a family member who wasn’t even their parents, but maybe they had an uncle or an aunt who owned their own business, but in reality, most of our candidates.
And thus, in my opinion, every franchisor should design a four- to six-month program that connects individuals with all the necessary elements to help them shift their perspective from that of an employee to that of a business owner.
Since the reality is that when you sign someone up to be a new franchise partner, regardless of whether you’re a broker consultant, a franchisor, or a salesperson for a franchisor, the bottom line is when you sign them up to be a franchise partner, that’s what I’m going to talk about today: the four things that, in my opinion, create a very strong bridge program. The fact is, and this is very significant, so I want you to remember it.
But legally, they are part owners of the business, but psychologically and practically, they are still employees. As a franchisor or consultant broker, you are not required to hunt for franchisors that provide this particular program. However, if you want the best franchise partners and, as a broker consultant, if you want to place individuals in the best, and possibly the best franchise concepts, you should search for people that have unique ramp ups and brand names that have some sort of accelerated or kickoff type programs.
Let’s now discuss the four things that, in my opinion, every franchisor should do during the first four to six months of supporting their new franchise partners, whether through first ramp-ups or initial support programs. So let’s begin. First and foremost, establish a playbook and a program for them, at least for the first 90 days. Make sure that their first 90 days are planned out, even if your jumpstart ramp up special program lasts for four to six months.
The last thing you want a new franchise partner to do is to be thinking during this time. This could seem counterintuitive. However, they are aware that you don’t want them to check their brains at the door and that you want them to think. But in actuality, you don’t want them to be overly concerned with whether or not this works. Or does this not function? You don’t want them to be obsessing over what they should do this week, do you? What should I do now? Everything needs to be planned out and rehearsed if you want people to take action. And in my opinion, you want a lot of activity at the beginning. You want to get them fired up about doing something every day and every week; you want them to jump out of bed and start working on their business.
The only way they’ll be able to do that is if you plan out their first three months, first 13 weeks, and first 90 days so they know exactly what they need to do each week when they launch their company. Thus, the first point.
Point number two is to provide a coach rather than a support person. Additionally, avoid giving them a buddy because by doing so, you’re probably hinting that you aren’t paying this guy. Although the individual who volunteers to be your buddy has the best of intentions, the truth is that if they are not paid to coach your new franchise partners, something else takes priority in their lives. And this is both appropriate and understandable, given that they are donating their time without receiving payment. So assign a real coach to them. I would also add that what I did was probably more cost-effectively when I requested the top third of my own franchise partners in my master region to serve as the kick start coach.
Because they are already a part of your system, I believe they make the ideal jumpstart instructors. If they are among your top third of franchise partners, they have already achieved success. And I believe that these individuals make the ideal coaches because they will perform far better than employees. Since they are doing this somewhat out of goodness and definitely not in a bad way, but a little bit as a stroke of their ego due to the fact that they are being recognized as a top coach in your system or our top franchise partner in your system, I found this to be much more fiscally economical.
As a result, when you refer to them as a kickstart coach or a ramp up coach, you are elevating them to a higher status, which tickles their ego and makes them feel good. Therefore, whether you hire them as your initial jumpstart coaches or ramp up coaches, it’s not always just about the money. And for that reason, getting them is definitely more cost-effective than hiring someone to accomplish this. Additionally, if they have done this, they will have much more credibility with your new franchise partner. This is the final benefit of having your own franchise partners do this.
In many, many franchise systems, I’ve observed that the employee-type support staff member doesn’t always win the trust of the franchise partners. Since they have never been there, done that, or owned the business, they frequently lack credibility. Therefore, the individual that is already in your franchise system has the highest credibility and is often what I discover to be the most effective ramp-up or kickstart type assistance or coach, and a proven performer in the top third is what I typically utilize. Have a playbook that outlines what to do each week for at least 13 weeks so that your team is prepared and doesn’t have to think too much.
Second, provide them with a coach—a real coach. The third is to hold them responsible, which is a spinoff of number two. The coach should hold this person accountable for following the playbook and should speak with them once a week. There is so much going on in the minds of your new franchise partners that you want the coach to know what’s going on; are they frustrated or down as the market kicks the legs out from under them? The coach needs to know this stuff. The coach should check in with the franchise partner, the new franchise partner, on a daily basis. As the franchisor, you want them to be aware of this information so that you can handle it. One aspect of the bridge is the mentality required for success as a business owner, including doing the right things and maintaining positivity.
Accountability, in my opinion, is the key. In these daily check-ins, have people phone your voicemail and leave a message instead of doing it live; I don’t do it live. You want to hear them, but you don’t necessarily want to have to talk to them every day. Instead, you want to get a feel of how they are thinking—are they optimistic? —instead. They are nonetheless giddy. Are they completing the tasks that they ought to be? ought to be doing? Just keep in mind that, while legally they are a business owner, in most circumstances they are not yet one. This could seem like a step too far.
And so, if you were an employee, wouldn’t you be checking in with someone who knows where you are and what you’re doing? Because there are so many shared schedules, and because employees are accustomed to having their whereabouts and activities tracked, check-ins used to be an essential part of the workday. Therefore, I believe that the new franchise partner finds some solace in knowing that someone is looking out for them, even on a daily or at least weekly basis.
As a master franchisee, I had two states to cover, so it was a lot of geography to cover, but I or my kickstart coaches could physically meet with the new franchise partner, so I would go into their marketplace as often as possible to actually help them get their initial business, so working with them is critical. The fourth tip is to try as best you can where geographically possible. If it’s a physical business, you want to make sure they’re ready for their opening and that, if at all possible, you want to be critiquing them and absolutely critiquing their work. Ideally, though, you want to be able to enter their territory with them to observe and perhaps even assist them in closing some of that initial business. This is a sizable component of the bridge.
The first few consumers that someone comes on simply allow the new franchise partner to relax and say, “Oh, this really does work,” which is something I’ve discovered to be true a lot of the time. I am in the correct place, and I did choose the proper franchise, so a large part of their success will be psychological. Because of this, it is crucial that you work closely with them to help them generate some cash flow in the first 90 days of starting their firm.
Let me sum up by saying that franchisors and consultants search for programs where they can observe an initial bridge-type program—which I will refer to as the bridge—but some type of special ramp-up or kickstart program. Fundamentally, treat them with respect as the employee that their mind still perceives them to be, but assist them in realizing that you want to assist them in changing their attitude so that they can become business owners.
And in the first four to six months, all franchisors should pay particular attention to their new franchise partners, providing them with a week-by-week playbook and the appropriate coaching support. Again, coach them rather than just provide support; hold them responsible because that is what they are accustomed to as employees; and then go to the office with them.
The right coach and coaching, holding them accountable for performance in those first few months, and working with them to get their initial sales or initial cash flow—or at the very least, being able to observe, view, and help correct what they’re doing in the early going—are the four tips playbook week by week. That is what I am referring to. Yes, I know I’m a little preachy, but I genuinely think franchise partners might do far more than what we currently see in some franchise ideas if the franchisors understood the importance of this type of bridging program.