Letting go… it’s so very hard to do

I seem to be writing quite a lot at the moment about new franchise operations that we’re working with… and this week is no exception.

I have to say, in today’s story we’re not the lead consultant.  Someone else is putting the franchise together and they’ve asked us to become involved with the training.  Of course, this means that we have to understand the franchise and so we’re pretty close to the whole set up.

The thing is every time we think we’ve nailed everything down the franchisor comes up with something else – some worry or objection.  For example, the franchisor is a long established business and he is very particular about the way they do things.

Okay, fair enough.  But he’s swithering… as we say here in Scotland.

You see, he’s worried about the quality of the work that franchisees will do, so he wants them to go out and sell the product, which will then be delivered in house.  It’s possible, but in this case it would make it very difficult for the franchisor to make any money.

My colleague, the lead consultant in all this, was starting to get a bit frustrated with the franchisor until he recognised that it’s only a natural process.

You see, when you look at the business there’s the Main Man (MM) sitting at the top of the tree.  There are quite a few employees, but in the management positions you’ll find the MM’s two sons and daughter.  I’ve met these people and they’re all good, solid managers, so there’s no issue with quality.

But why are they there?

Of course, part of it is to do with the franchisor being a family business but it’s also to do with control.  The family members are a form of control mechanism for the MM.

Now, all of this has an impact on the franchise.  The MM is committed to creating a network but needs help working through his thought processes.  To him, right now, it seems as though he relinquishing a fair chunk of control and indeed he is.  But he has to balance this with the potential income available to him by putting in sufficient (but not excessive) checks and balances to ensure, as far as possible, quality is maintained.

So, that’s the technical side of what the consultant needs to do to help him.  Much more tricky for the consultant, though, is not to impose this process on the new franchisor – that just won’t work.  He has to coach the franchisor to help him find his own equilibrium… to make him comfortable with the lessening of control.

It just goes to show that a consultant needs to be so much more than the font of all knowledge.

They need to be coach, mentor, buddy, support mechanism, marriage guidance counsellor and many other things.

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