Employees First


Employees are a franchise’s most important asset, and it is important to treat them that way.

By Mark Cottle

“People are definitely a company’s greatest asset. It doesn’t make any difference whether the product is cars or cosmetics. A company is only as good as the people it keeps.” – Mary Kay Ash, founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics

Successful leaders know they cannot singlehandedly scale a company; they need quality people to make a business go and grow. Consider the example of a guy I know pretty well. We’ll call him Chuck. Chuck is a fantastic landscaper. He’s got an incredible work ethic, a good safety record and he genuinely cares about customer satisfaction. He’s also got a truck, which is essential for hauling the tools of his trade.

Chuck decides he wants to expand his business. Unfortunately, he doesn’t realize there are many intricacies to business ownership: having a good business model, marketing know-how, setting prices, scheduling jobs, accounting, staffing – and the list goes on. It takes much more than having a truck and being a skilled landscaper to cultivate a successful landscaping business. In other words, Chuck in a truck isn’t scalable.

This concept is certainly no different in a franchise organization. What makes a successful franchise is not franchisees who know how to do it all, but franchisees who know how to properly delegate. As a franchise owner, your success is dependent on your ability to work on the business, not just in it.

Skillful delegating not only includes hiring the right employees and managers, but also encouraging training at all levels and providing team members with the tools they need to succeed, and then getting out of their way. In the financial industry where consultants are very hands-on with clients, delegation skills are crucial for growth. Smart owners know their time is well-spent working on the business doing things like prospecting, meeting with current clients  and hosting networking events – and they know finding and keeping great team members is key to facilitating this.

The Face of the Franchise

In any franchise, the employees are the first people customers engage with. They’re the ones who will deliver the high-quality, consistent experience that will differentiate you from your competition. So they must embody your brand essence.

Selectivity is very important in hiring, and even more so now considering the labor pool is smaller than ever. It’s not easy to identify and hire good employees, but when you focus on three key steps, it can be done. They are:

1. Ensure you have qualified candidates who can do the job well. This is your business and your reputation, so you want employees who will do quality work. Asking current employees to refer people who do good work is a great place to start.

2. Be thorough in your review process. Have a checklist of criteria that evaluate a candidate’s suitability for the job. Look for people who have good writing skills and follow directions. These can be indicators of a person’s work ethic and attention to detail.

3. Screen and interview well. Call each candidate to arrange an interview and note their attitude, behavior, questions they ask, and eagerness to work for you. In the interview, create an atmosphere that is professional enough to signal what your business is like and intimate enough to enable openness.

Building the right team for growth also means keeping your top talent, and keeping your top talent starts immediately with the onboarding process. Not onboarding employees thoroughly leads to more turnover, and turnover costs you a lot of money.

Onboarding is not just about orienting new employees to the company’s policies and procedures. It also involves helping employees understand their job, performance expectations and the culture; introducing them to co-workers and management; and connecting them with resources that will enable them to do their jobs well. Training gives employees more autonomy and will enable them to take initiative and ownership.

Beyond onboarding, provide employees opportunities to grow through meaningful development programs, coaching, and mentoring. Work with employees to create a plan for their personal and professional growth, and check in frequently and monitor their progress. Offering more feedback and recognizing employees for a job well-done will make them feel like valuable contributors to your team.

What About Managers?

Franchise owners say the No. 1 reason for a franchisee’s failure is that they don’t hire the right managers. And poor manager/employee relationships are usually cited as a top reason for employee turnover.

The best managers understand that their success and the organization’s success rely on employees’ achievements. Franchisees who focus on manager development and communication skills training will find these supervisors to be more engaged with their employees. And studies show that highly engaged employees are five times less likely to quit than employees who are not engaged.

It has been said that the skills of a company’s employees make up 85 percent of that company’s assets. Franchise organizations know it takes many people rowing in the same direction to scale; winning franchisees understand their employees are their No. 1 asset. Hiring the right ones and managing them well is how a business will truly succeed.

Mark Cottle is executive vice president of franchising at Lendio.


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