‘Staff smarts’ can give a franchise ‘star’ status

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Getting to grips with the pro and cons of managing staff effectively is vital to the success of a franchise 

The most valuable asset in any franchise is its people. It is people that drive admin, control systems and provide the service, build efficient teams and help to keep customers coming back for more. Ignoring staff needs and failing to acknowledge and reward them can potentially harm a franchise.

“If you are buying a new franchise and selecting your own staff, or acquiring an existing outlet with staff, getting to grips with employee issues is vital. It is critical that the right people are in the right positions and that the staffing process is accomplished as quickly and effectively as possible,” says Simone Cooper, Head of Franchising and Enterprise Development at Standard Bank.

“Sorting out employee issues is time-consuming and can even be intimidating, but you can usually get advice, tips and possible staff referrals from the franchisor and other franchisees. Recruitment, however, remains the responsibility of the franchisee, so it is up to you to decide how many employees with specific skills you will need.”

“The real challenge arises when you are buying an existing franchise. Employees already in place would have established a system of working and may find it difficult to adapt to the methods that a new franchisee may require.”

“As a starting point, you should check every employee’s contract and their terms of employment before and after the franchise purchase takes place. It is also natural for 20% of the existing staff members to move on when a new owner arrives. Therefore, you should always incorporate staff recruitment when planning to buy an existing franchise.”

“Hiring staff for franchises is simplified because there are systems in place and the jobs are well defined, and outputs can be measured. The role of leadership, however, falls directly on the franchisee,” says Ms Cooper.

As a leader, the franchisee has to accept responsibility for:

  • Doing the necessary employee background checks when hiring;
  • Seeing that staff adhere to the franchisor’s systems and guidelines for their jobs;
  • Motivating employees to perform and build their confidence;
  • Maintaining morale within the outlet;
  • Devising ways of recognising star performers and rewarding them;
  • Enabling people to improve their skills;
  • Developing  promotional opportunities;

“Leadership within a franchise is best shown by setting a good example. Franchisees that know every part of the business and are prepared to help out, regardless of the job level within the outlet, inspire and motivate others to give their best. Being happy to assist in all levels of operation also helps to identify areas that have operational bottlenecks or where wastage occurs.”

“But more importantly, knowing the outlet and its people well enables you to identify where skills need upgrading and training can be undertaken to improve delivery,” says Ms Cooper, while adding several tips for employee success:

  • Being approachable and getting to know your staff;
  • Helping people improve their skills so that they can be promoted;
  • Showing appreciation where it is due and praising performers publicly;
  • Getting employees involved in recruitment;
  • Setting and displaying targets and achievements to encourage accountability;
  • Avoiding hiring family or friends.

“Everybody enjoys being acknowledged and rewarded for their efforts. Small incentives encourage people to perform better and the investment in time and money can result in huge business rewards.”

“For example, a petrol station franchisee that rewards efforts with an afternoon off on full pay and some groceries to take home has seen this gesture help quadruple his turnover over 10 years. As a result, he has retained 80% of his staff since opening his outlet,” says Ms Cooper.

Press release by Magna-Carta.

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