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Talking Collaboration in Minneapolis


Many people rag on millennials for our various proclivities and preferences, but you can’t bemoan a generation that wants to avoid becoming a voiceless cog in an uncaring machine. This, in part, was the topic at the second day of Faegre Baker Daniels’ Franchise Summit held in downtown Minneapolis this week.

Panelists Aziz Hashim (NRD Holdings), Ken Hutcheson (U.S. Lawns), Jeff Tews (BrightStar), Barb Moran (Moran Holdings) and moderator, Brian Schnell (FBD), held an engaging conversation on what it takes to create a culture of collaborative leadership in a franchise organization—especially critical in fostering that healthy relationship between zors and zees.

As a relative newcomer to the industry and (barely) a millennial, I found a lot of value in the conversation and was pleased to hear accomplished franchise professionals preaching the gospel of creating an inclusive environment where ideas are sought from the entire organization, not just the C-suite.

Hashim, the incoming chair of the International Franchise Association, told attendees to avoid the mistake of underestimating millennials and franchisees, suggesting there were both hard and soft benefits to be had if everybody is given a voice. This collaborative mindset, he said, must start and flow outward from the CEO.

“Collaboration is more than a nicety,” he said bluntly. “It’s a business imperative.”

Aside from making zees and corporate employees feel included, he said those at the individual units are closest to the customers and, hence, have some of the best information on how franchised brands should move forward—whatever the discussion.

Moran echoed the sentiment, sharing her company’s experience going through a two-year rebranding process with one of its brands—and throwing it all away and starting over halfway through the process based on franchisee input.

“You have to be continually opening doors with your team,” she said. “You have to make sure you are hearing what your franchisee have to say.”

Rather than hatching a plan and presenting it to the franchise network for their approval—“buy in” in exhausting corporate speak—Hutcheson recommended leaders involve more people in the process at the ground level so they have a personal stake in the success of new initiatives.  

Have you ever worked at a place that didn’t value your opinion?

If so, you’re probably happy you escaped and vowed to never return to such an environment. I’ve been in those shoes and, personally, don’t think wanting one’s voice to be heard has anything to do with age. Inclusion is a universal desire and should similarly be a universal policy in the franchise industry.

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The latest news, opinions and commentary on what's happening in the franchise arena that could affect your business.

Laura MichaelsLaura Michaels is editor of Franchise Times. She can be reached at 612.767.3210, or send story ideas to lmichaels@franchisetimes.com.
Beth EwenBeth Ewen is senior editor of Franchise Times. She can be reached at 612.767.3212, or send story ideas to bewen@franchisetimes.com.
Nicholas UptonNicholas Upton is restaurants editor at Franchise Times. He can be reached at 612.767.3226, or send story ideas to nupton@franchisetimes.com.
Mary Jo LarsonMary Jo Larson is the publisher of Franchise Times Magazine and the Restaurant Finance Monitor.  You can find her on Twitter at




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