Dependent – Independent – Intradependent

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey in not necessarily the easiest book in the world to read but there’s lots in it that relates to franchising if you can wade your way through it.

There’s one section that really does illustrate very well how the relationship between franchisor and franchisee should work.

A recent meeting with a franchisee got me really thinking about the importance of getting this right. She told me that the first franchisees who joined the network she has just bought into were sold something quite different than she was. Apparently the franchisor sold the package on the basis that a franchisee would have to do no marketing for themselves – the franchisor would do it all for them.

Ouch!

Talk about setting yourself up for a fall.

There are three things about this that, for me, just don’t work.

Number one: the whole idea of a franchise based on territories is that the franchisee is the local person on the ground, they get involved in local marketing, they are the ones going to networking meetings, turning up for fun runs and other local events.

And, as a franchisee, I would want responsibility for doing this – I want to run a business and not simply be a worker for the franchisor.

Number two: from the franchisor’s point of view, this just isn’t a sustainable model. What works in one territory won’t necessarily work in another. That means the franchisor must have a marketing department the size of the Chinese army just to provide enough business to franchisees as the network grows.

Number three: a franchisor who does this is making their franchisees dependent on them… and this just isn’t right. I think I said it last week (although, I have to admit, that’s a long time ago) it’s the franchisor’s responsibility to ask the ‘what if I’m not here question?

This doesn’t mean that franchisees should be entirely independent; this isn’t right either. After all, franchisees join a network so they aren’t entirely on their own when they start in business.

No, franchisor and franchisees should be, what Covey calls, Intradependent. They can operate on their own but they are working for mutual benefit, coming together for certain things and both recognise that their success depends, to a large extent, on mutual and willing co-operation.

The relationship is balanced, even and one doesn’t hold power over the other…

This is the foundation of truly successful franchise networks.

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