94% of executives and 88% of employees believe a distinct workplace culture is important to business success – Deloitte survey
Culture, as it pertains to franchising (and business at large), is a company’s ethos, its personality. It’s what differentiates companies that produce the same product or service from one another.
According to our latest prospect insights survey, 38% of people looking for a franchise are doing so because they want to get away from the job they currently have and be their own boss. Several of the main factors for dissatisfaction at a workplace are encompassed within organizational culture e.g. social connection with peers, lack of engagement from management, etc.
Last Wednesday on the podcast Franchise Today the topic of culture came up. Mark Liston, president of Glass Doctor, one of the many brands of the Dwyer Group – a franchise organization renowned for its positive culture, was the guest. Mark and the show’s co-hosts (Stan Friedman and Paul Segreto) discussed franchise business culture primarily in the context of why it’s beneficial to build a brand with culture as a foundation.
In creating a franchise culture, Mark said the #1 thing for emerging franchisors to do is develop a code of values and live by them. “Make sure in everything you do you build [by] that code of values. What it does is it gives you guidelines, kind of like the 10 Commandments but easier. It’s a set of guidelines that you [reference] in every one of your decisions. [If] you live according to your code of values; it just makes life a whole lot easier. They become part of who you are and why you are.”
Why Is Culture So Important For Emerging Franchisors?
It can be daunting for new, emerging franchisors to think about how they’re going to compete for franchisees against their more established counterparts. That’s where focusing on what you can control can pay huge dividends. “Culture is an equalizer for emerging brands – they can compete on culture,” says Mark.
According to Mark, emerging franchisors should focus on “telling those candidates considering an affiliation with you…to not just look at those material things like the ad fund, the toys, or the things you get with a little more scale that the younger emerging brand hasn’t achieved yet. But look at the culture of who you’re getting in business with.” If the foundation of culture is strong, the bells and whistles that come with size will come.
But also, emerging franchisors should also put themselves into the shoes of the prospective franchisee to understand why culture is a big selling point…
Why Prospective Franchisees Should Focus On Uncovering Culture During Discovery Day Visits
Before signing a franchise agreement, prospective franchisees will most likely visit the franchise’s corporate office for a “Discovery Day.”
This visit is exceptionally important because prospective franchisees need to be aware of who they are going to be contractually obligated to for 5, 10, 20 years. In addition to the nuts and bolts of the franchise operation, the team of people that make up the corporate office needs to be closely examined too. The main question: do they look engaged in the franchise?
“Those are the people who are going to be supporting you [when you are a franchisee]…If those people in the front office don’t feel [valued and respected], you don’t have a prayer – no matter how big or small the brand may be,” says Mark.
In short, culture shouldn’t be a collection of words on an “About Us” page under a mission and values heading. It should inform everything about the franchise from the start, whether that’s the start of the franchise itself for emerging franchisors or the start of the franchise relationship for prospective franchisees. In an era when the quest for work satisfaction is at its highest, culture could be mean more than the money.