The People Problem in Franchising
My day started with two divergent visuals on the challenge of hiring good people. First, a friend contacted me on behalf of his new-to-franchising father who’s having trouble finding employees. Then, I saw the horrible video of the (former) Taco Bell employee drunkenly assaulting his Uber driver. I don’t envy anyone whose livelihood depends on finding and keeping high-quality people.
By design, many new franchisees have never done this business ownership stuff. Decoding P&Ls, negotiating with suppliers and casting out a net for employees is often uncharted waters, and terrifying when your livelihood is on the line.
I haven’t had these experiences myself, but nearly a decade of business reporting has given me the chance to speak with people navigating these waters for the first time. The struggling operation of one franchisee translates into anxiety, tears, sleepless nights and, at times, fights with family or friends.
While it may be easy to feel alone, there are built-in advantages to signing up with a franchisor that knows how to support its franchisees. Those struggling new ‘zees need to “work the system”—not just following established procedures, but also lean on the franchisor (and local reps) to provide training, guidance and, if needed, boots on the ground assistance in person.
Another thing you learn when interviewing business people is the value of reaching out to experts. While paying expensive retainers or consultant fees may be the least appealing option when the walls are closing in, I truly cannot count the number of successful business owners that say they owe everything to the consultant, attorney or fellow franchisees who helped them along the way.
Do not panic when times get tough, and don’t discount the utility of calling fellow franchisees in or outside of your market for advice. Odds are, they’ve been in these depths at some point on their own.
And then there’s Taco Bell jerk. Have you seen this video? Now that we’re officially in the post-privacy world, people who act like this will be filmed or photographed, and definitely outed on the internet.
There are countless articles, white papers, webinars and books on the subject of hiring good employees, and it’s a universal concern at this point in America’s economic recovery. Education is harder and more expensive to come by, and it’s expensive and time consuming to find good people.
Taco Bell will remain unscathed by the actions of this now-fired employee, but everyone at the ground floor of hiring—be it a large franchisor or a new-to-the-game franchisee—knows that with good people, most other problems fade into the background.
Good luck and, as they say, hire slowly and fire quickly.