The Franchise Team

Franchise team

Why it’s so important to cast a unified corporate vision amid competing priorities.

By Bucky Cook

Competing visions and ideas are fundamental to any growing brand. As your corporate team grows, you’ll start to notice your resources being pulled in a million different directions as each department pursues its own goals for the brand. There’s an old joke that production tells marketing to “sell something we can make,” while marketing tells production to “make something we can sell.” This tension presents both a challenge and an opportunity for brands, and how leadership chooses to navigate it will often set the course for longterm success or failure.

 

Ultimately, anyone who is competing for resources – whether it’s ideas, funds, time or otherwise – deserves a seat at the planning table. Here are a few best practices I’ve learned from my three-decade career in the fast-casual industry.

Take the Time

Although it can be time consuming, it is essential that everyone has the opportunity to make a case for their need or idea. This provides a platform to discuss the following questions as a team: Does this initiative align with our company’s mission? Will it serve to amplify our existing strategy? Will it have a return on investment?

Ideally, the ensuing discussion will allow teams to find a consensus on whether it makes sense to move forward given the greater context. Occasionally, when no consensus can be reached within a reasonable time frame, it falls to the top management to make the final decision. Even then, the rest of the team knows and appreciates that the decision was not made in a vacuum. If their argument did not prevail, they understand the underlying reasons for the decision because they were a part of the process.

Grow Smart

Developing a strong franchise system requires constant and consistent growth within the franchisor support team. The nature of that growth, the skill sets developed and resources allocated must always be part of an overall plan that reflects the mission, values and priorities of the organization. Strategic decision-making is the art behind successful, well-managed growth.

Generally, all resource allocation is a question of building profit and adding value at the individual unit level. However, it is also important to balance the ROI mentality with support for the needs of everyone involved in the operation.

A great company is one that runs like a family, with respect, support and understanding for all members, including franchise owners, franchise team members, support staff, local communities and vendors.

Strategize and Streamline

Communication and resource allocation are much simpler when brands are just starting out. In the early days of a small brand, it’s easy to keep everyone in the loop because your staff is smaller, everyone wears many “hats” and departments really don’t exist. Oftentimes decisions are made by one person or a few, and sometimes they are made reactively as issues arise rather than proactively or strategically.

As your franchise system begins to grow, you’ll find that departments evolve out of functional necessity: food safety, quality control, marketing, finance, IT, franchise development and more. As team members develop deeper levels of expertise, competition for resources starts to emerge among the different functional areas.

Corporate leadership is responsible for setting a strategic vision and communicating it to team members so that everyone understands how to prioritize a much wider range of responsibilities. The key is to stay focused on meeting the needs of the customers; in this case, the franchise owners. A growing brand presence necessitates streamlined systems and processes to ensure all of the needs of franchisees, customers and vendors are being met.

Unify Your Vision

Building a new brand is not for the faint of heart, and the enthusiasm of those who are excited by this challenge guarantees that there will be competing ideas and vision. Clearly define your primary drivers, and default to them whenever you’re in doubt. At Your Pie, our top priority is to support our franchisees by attaining unit profitability, safeguarding food quality, supporting local giveback and promoting continuous innovation. An idea, need or initiative must align with at least one of those buckets to be considered for resource allocation.

When making decisions about profitability, also consider how those decisions benefit every member of the company. At the end of the day, it’s all about casting a unified corporate vision and communicating the mission consistently at every level of the brand. If your team understands the overarching “why” behind every decision you make, you’ll receive stronger buy-in and dedication to the company’s vision and mission.

Casting vision certainly starts with leadership, but it is ultimately carried out by the corporate team, franchise owners and store-level team members. If you focus on their success, yours will surely follow.

Bucky Cook is CEO of Your Pie. He has gained extensive experience in the restaurant and franchising industries since 1984, when he joined Heavenly Ham as a startup and led the brand for 15 years as CEO. In 2010, Cook became the CEO of Your Pie, for which he is also a franchisee.

 

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