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Aussie psychologist’s latest book goes beyond the basics in ‘Tips’


Let me start this piece with a confession: I have never read something by Greg Nathan that I did not find interesting and helpful.  “The Franchise Relationship Book of Tips,” his newest publication, is no exception.

The Franchise Relationship Book of Tips

Nathan, an Australian psychologist who has focused for more than 25 years on franchisor-franchisee relations, is founder of the Australian-based Franchise Relationships Institute. During his career, he has worked for a franchisor and has owned and operated a franchise. 

As a psychologist, he has performed extensive research in the field of franchise relations—something that sets him apart from others professing skills in franchise relations. To my knowledge, he is the only psychologist in the world who has devoted his career to this subject. He is well-known in the Australian market, but he was virtually a stranger to the American market until about 10 years ago when he started presenting at franchise conventions and conferences. 

His latest book, “Tips” is a collection of observations and suggestions about franchise relations.  Each tip is one or two pages long, so the book is an easy read—one that you can take a peek at while waiting to catch a plane,  when stuck in traffic in the back of a taxi, or simply looking for a break from work’s tedium.

A skeptic might characterize “Tips” as little more than an operations manual on franchise relations. Many of the selections contain lists of do’s and don’ts for franchise systems facing challenges in dealing with their franchisees. For example, one selection focuses on how field operators should relate to the franchisees they have been assigned to assist (“Are your field consultants cops or coaches?”). But unlike an operations manual, Nathan first sets the stage for his suggestions. Thus, the reader is not only provided with a recommended action plan, but the reasoning behind that plan. “Tips” is more than simply liturgy to be recited without reference to the setting.

Another facet I found intriguing is that, like it or not, Nathan is a guitar-strumming product of the ‘60s and ‘70s (make love not war). Although Nathan likes being intellectually challenged, he is not confrontational. He is a good listener—not surprising given he is a psychologist by trade. He believes most disputes can be resolved through meaningful, open dialogue, aimed at finding the root of a problem, and then tailoring peaceful, pragmatic solutions to the problem.

One criticism of the book: If one assumes there are at least two helpful tips on each of the book’s 145 pages, the useful information this book provides is voluminous. It is not a book one can memorize and retain all of its suggestions in one’s mental hard drive. Unlike so many other pieces that discuss franchise relations, its conclusions are drawn from hard empirical data, rather than anecdotal, making these conclusions harder to remember.

There are few hard and fast rules in franchising. Each franchise system has unique attributes. “Tips” is not like an auto repair manual, where the cure can be found on a particular page of the manual. The book is, instead, the starting point for solutions to problems. Thought and analysis, coupled with relevant experience of others, will provide the path to good decision-making when franchise relation challenges arise. 

Rupert Barkoff is a franchise attorney with Kilpatrick Townsend in Atlanta. Reach him at (404) 815.6366; rbarkoff@kilpatricktownsend.com.

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