The power of culture in a restaurant franchise

In a competitive industry like the restaurant business, corporate culture can often be the differentiator between successful businesses and those that fail, and it’s no different at the franchise level. But the data shows that many companies aren’t focusing as much as they should on culture: A 2015 Gallup poll found that only 28% of employees strongly agree with the statement, “I know this. that my company represents and what makes our brand (s) different from our competitors.

Jenn Johnston, President and Brand CEO of Global Franchise Group (GFG), mother of concepts such as Great American Cookies, Pretzelmaker, Marble Slab Creamery and Round Table Pizza, explains that the cultural element of a business is generally neglected in favor of other aspects. .

“A lot of people don’t focus on [culture]. I think they’re more focused on the business at hand and on achieving different strategies and tactics, ”said Johnston. “And then culture could be an afterthought instead of foresight.”

“If you start with culture,” she adds, “the rest follows.

GFG prioritized corporate culture ten years ago, she says. At the forefront of its brand building architecture, the group provides franchisees with a coherent mission and core values, and then holds everyone accountable for these values.

Johnston points to Great American Cookies, which has a clear brand mission to share the fun of cookies. From this mission statement, franchisees can interpret the meaning within their own stores, particularly in the way they use their employees.

Measuring the success of a corporate culture may not be as easily quantifiable as sales numbers, but metrics like customer reviews can indicate whether a franchisee is building a good culture. Employee retention is another way to see if people feel brand loyal, which translates into productivity down the line.

The GFG surveys also ask franchisees about franchise core values ​​and trust, which helps the company assess whether franchisees are meeting their goals.

Franchise expert Scott Greenberg, author of The Wealthy Franchisee, has worked with GFG to help its franchisees maximize their potential. Former owner / operator of Edible Arrangement, Greenberg says franchisees can create a successful culture by taking steps such as delegating tasks properly.

He mentions a presentation he gave to a group of franchisees where he asked participants to consider their ideal annual salary and divide it by the hours worked in a year. He then asked those same participants if they would pay someone that hourly amount to complete the task, when they could instead delegate it to someone else.

“I said, ‘Alright, would you pay someone that much money to clean the counters? Would you pay someone so much money to do things that you could get someone else to do for $ 12 or $ 15 an hour? ‘ “The idea is, if you can really create a culture and be very sophisticated in developing the mindset of your individual employees and creating good teams, then they can take care of those operational tasks,” says Greenberg. “The faster a business owner can make that change to get rid of the weeds, the more quickly he gets into the things that really matter.”

Often times, a franchisee’s success is due to the coincidence of a great location or their workaholic nature. But these operational parts are just the start; good marketing and cost control are table stakes in running a good business. What Greenberg has found in successful franchisees, whether they frequent the store every day or take frequent vacations, is their ability to understand the human element.

“You don’t just hire people. You hire the right people who match your workplace values, ”he says. “Then you don’t just train them in the skill part. You also train them in the culture itself and you train them in their mindset.

Understanding the human element is especially important for franchisors who want to take culture to the corporate level. And Tropical Smoothie Cafe CEO Charles Watson is someone who embodies that mindset to a T.

Watson joined the Tropical Smoothie Cafe franchise team in 2010, when the chain had 300 units. Over the past 11 years, the chain’s reach has tripled, which Watson attributes in part to the smoothie brand’s focus on corporate culture. The foundation of Tropical Smoothie’s culture is the acronym TRUST (Transparent, Responsible, Unique, Service-oriented and Tenacious), which serves as a benchmark for franchisees.

To take the business partnership beyond a series of acronyms, Watson often travels to establish a face-to-face connection with the franchisees of Tropical Smoothie Cafe. He says the emotional bond between the franchisor and the franchisee is essential in creating motivated franchisees who feel good about their bottom line and the impact they have in their communities.

He compares the relationship between the franchisor and the franchisee to that between the head and the heart. With a strong bond between franchisors and franchisees, both are better equipped to handle all the obstacles that inevitably arise in the business arena.

“At the end of the day, we are human beings and we have to be able to solve problems,” says Watson. “We have to have some kind of North Star that aligns us and similarities to make decisions, because at the end of the day there will be conflicts. There will be good times and bad times and culture gets you through those times.

“So I think it’s extremely important for the future, because everything is a negotiation in business,” he adds. “Making sure you sing from the same choirbook as a reference is extremely important to being effective and efficient in running the business. “

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Cecil N. Messick

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