If You Lose Perspective, You Lose Your Value-and Quite Possibly, Your Franchise
Every franchise goes through cycles. Younger franchisors can bumble their way through the initial stages of growth, but after a few runs through the ringer, your early mistakes will start to have consequences. This truth is made evident in this story about the Jimmy John’s franchise and the lessons they learned the hard way. The secret is to allow your missteps to create positive change, and use them to develop new strategies and procedures that help your company evolve for the better.
The franchise cycle goes a little something like this:
- The franchise starts with great ideas and ideals that the owner is wildly enthusiastic about and eager to share with the world.
- The owner is heavily involved with the franchising process, and he/she is the glue that makes everything happen.
- Slowly but surely, small adjustments are made to the franchise locations, but the concept works well – and there is an almost audible thrum of activity as the franchise grows.
- Now, the owner and managers get even more involved in franchise growth, meetings, trainings, PR and marketing initiatives, annual conference planning, advertising, and more.
- Franchise locations are flying off of the shelves, and things start to get overwhelming for the owner as more and more promises have to be kept.
- The owner knows that some locations are very successful and others aren’t perfect – but they’re doing “okay”, which has to be enough when their attention and time is being called upon for a million different things at once.
- Soon, the owner is almost completely removed from the majority of the locations and the day-to-day decision making.
- Franchisees are starting to give the HQ some flack regarding different issues – but the owner dismisses it as “growing pains.”
- Some valuable team members quit or threaten to leave unless “things get better”
- Owners hear through the grapevine that a few of your locations are really getting hammered on social media for “not delivering” on brand promises, and embarrassment occurs
- Some of the locations inevitably fail
- The owner visits one of his or her your franchises realizes that the thrum of activity is gone- and it finally clicks that something is very, very wrong.
At this point, the owner has a precious few amount of options: they can very publicly do something about it – like going on “Undercover Boss” - and that can certainly be good for brand visibility and PR. Alternately (like Jimmy John’s did), they can roll up their sleeves and dig back into the “grass roots” of the concept, immersing themselves in the day-to-day activities to get the franchise back on track and reignite the passion and perspective. If both of those options sound unappealing, they can just sit back and lose the whole thing. Smart CEOs like Jimmy John Liautaud might get caught up in the cycle, but they realize that that the most important part of it is always revisiting Step One and reconnecting with the great idea that got you there in the first place. Rinse, Cycle, Repeat!