You were invited this summer to get in your questions for a new “Ask the Expert” series on the Franchise Relations Dialogue Forum of IFA’s member-only community FranSocial. Now you can access responses from our newest expert, FASTSIGNS International CEO Catherine Monson, CFE. Monson addresses a variety of topics, including leadership, engaging and supporting franchisees, franchising under attack and much more. Read her entire “Ask the Expert.”
Here are a few excerpts.
- Leadership Through Major Systemic Change
Monson: At FASTSIGNS, it has included changing our model from a passive, reactive walk-in retail model to a proactive business development model; moving away from more commodity products to higher margin products and services; and expanding our product and services model to include non-signage products, as well as digital signs.
Monson: Each year since I have been at FASTSIGNS, we have conducted a series of regional meetings/town halls (typically in 12 to 18 cities) with our executives being the presenter and asking for input. I also conducted “Connect with Catherine” conference calls with the network every six weeks, offering all of our franchisees the opportunity to give feedback and input, ask questions, etc.
Monson: The world is full of opposing forces and opinions. If we want to preserve the proven, successful franchise business model, we need to fight for it. I don’t have a crystal ball and am not able to state, with certainty, how these things will end up. I do know that “politics is a contact sport” and many of the groups with opposing views to ours are more active, better organized, and in “more contact” with lawmakers and policymakers.
The first featured expert was Dwyer Group Executive Chairwoman Dina Dwyer-Owens, CFE, who responded to questions that included such areas as leadership, political challenges, compliance and balancing franchisee and end users’ needs. Here are a few brief excerpts.
- Transitioning From Founder Leadership to Professional Leadership
Dwyer-Owens: Never lose sight of where you came from.
Having experienced that on a personal and professional level when my father and the founder of The Dwyer Group, Don Dwyer, died unexpectedly — it wasn’t easy. But there are lessons we learned that made us a stronger organization through that transition. We have never lost sight of Don’s mission, vision and values that he outlined when he created our company.
Dwyer-Owens: Franchising appears to be under siege of late from various state and federal agencies. From franchise relations laws to the opinion that franchises are not small businesses to employee/employer issues, franchising continues to be forced to defend its position as a strong business model with a clearly defined relationship between franchisor and franchisee. It appears there are just too many “decision makers” who do not understand what franchising is all about.
- Balancing Franchisee and End User Needs
Dwyer-Owens: We actually have three types of customers in my mind. We have the employee, which I consider the internal customer of The Dwyer Group. I believe that we should provide our employees with the proper tools, resources, training, constructive feedback when needed and sincere praise when earned so they will take great care of our franchisees. I believe we are responsible for providing our franchisees with the proper support, training, and guidance, etc. so they can properly serve the end user.
Visit FranSocial often for more on the Franchise Relations Dialogue Forum, other community updates and to join member-only discussions. The March issue of Franchising World will include an expanded version of this post.