US against THEM – be careful of this mentality!

A poor attitude by a franchisor at a recent forum attended, proved to be a bit of an eye opener for an experienced franchise executive. In the end though, it highlighted a crucial research aspect for anyone looking to buy a franchise business.

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Recently I attended a franchise management forum to hear from some experienced franchisors and their management teams talk about their businesses. They discussed their successes, failures and franchisor/franchisee relationships.

The most interesting part for me was the different attitude to the franchisor/franchisee relationships that a particular franchisor had. As a franchisor myself, I have my thoughts on this subject and I guess it is fair to say that the majority of franchisors think the same way as I do.

That is, we value the relationship and see it more as a partnership or peer-to-peer relationships rather than a parent/child type relationship. I was really surprised at this recent forum I mentioned I attended, to have a franchisor (fortunately only one of all who presented), who appeared to have little respect for the franchise owners in their network, or a real understanding of responsibility to a person (franchisee) who has, in some cases, invested their life savings into the franchise system. They portrayed to all in attendance a poor culture that screamed an US against THEM mentality.

US against THEM in Franchising – What Does it Mean?

This is really a mentality of blame and poor culture and means that the franchisor and franchisee are just not working together for the greater good of each others businesses. They have spiraled into a mentality of mistrust and blaming each other for poor performances or attitudes, and the desire to work together has gone.

In these cases the Franchisor can be quite overbearing and very compliance focused as they feel this is what they need to do for them to be successful. Unfortunately, in these cases some franchisees that went into the franchise with high hopes for their future can be ‘hurt’ along the way. But sometimes these franchisees or groups of franchisees are not completely blameless. They too share the responsibility for the relationship that has developed between them.

Once the US against THEM attitude is ingrained into the business culture it can be hard to change. In some cases the franchisee would be better off selling their business and moving on to greener pastures. Although in some cases emotion gets the better of the parties involved and they end up in a protracted dispute that can be quite costly for all concerned. 

No one wins in these cases and my advice here is to avoid these situations at all costs and just focus on what you need to do as a franchisee to improve the situation for yourselves and your business.

How Can You Avoid US Against THEM or What Can You Do About It?

Better still, during your due diligence of the franchise system, add to your list to find out about the franchise’s culture. Is it positive and productive? Do franchisees with in the group feel like that can talk to their franchisor openly and without fear of reprisals? Is there an US against THEM mentality? For me, this would be the most important aspect to find out as it can have a profound effect on your business and enjoyment of that business.

If you are already in this unfortunate position, then focus only on the positive outcomes for you and your business. Set a plan to either improve your relationship with the franchisor through positive actions and communication or set about preparing your business for sale. In the end life is too short to be battling away in an unhappy relationship with your franchisor.

Now with that all said, such an attitude and approach I mentioned at the start I saw at that forum recently, is a rarity and bit of an old fashioned attitude. Most franchisors these days focus on having strong and positive relationships with their franchisees. They see their franchisee more like clients or business partners that must receive outstanding service for the fees and time they put into the business and franchise brand. And when I say most I mean more like 95% of them.

Just remember as a potential franchise partner it is really important to do your home work. Not only on the profits that a franchise may make you and how strong the brand is out there in the market place. But also on the relationship the franchisor has with its existing franchise partners. For me this is the most important aspect of conducting due diligence on a business as hopefully you will love your franchise and see it delivery outstanding results for you and your family years into the future.

Good luck with your business ownership decisions.