9 ways field managers can help franchisees stay in good shape

By Greg Nathan | 06 May 2020 View comments

Field Managers are currently in a strong position to provide useful support to franchisees in three important areas says Greg Nathan, founder of Franchise Relationships Institute.

The three crucial areas are emotional resilience  financial management and operational effectiveness.

9 ways field managers can help franchisees

Emotional resilience                              

  1. Keep an eye out for mental health warning signs. These include becoming withdrawn and non-communicative; showing unusual levels of anxiety or anger; looking unwell and unkempt; or being extremely down and unmotivated to take action. Field managers should be skilled in listening, and be aware of referral sources for franchisees to get professional help.
  2. Stay on top of your own mental resilience. Because we can’t lead from behind, field managers need to ensure they are getting enough peer support to stay positive themselves. This includes eating nutritious food, getting enough rest, exercising regularly, and focusing on their sense of purpose.
  3. Keep franchisees focused on the future and what they can control. Under stress, franchisees are likely to focus on past problems and what’s not going well. Field managers should ask solution focused questions such as What is the best possible outcome we could achieve at the moment? What do you need? What is a small step we can take to make this happening? How can I support you?

Financial management

  1. Assist them to control their costs. When sales are significantly down, every dollar a field manager can help their franchisees save in expenses, will increase their chances of survival. This includes negotiating with suppliers, landlords and banks, and encouraging them to be ruthless in managing their fixed costs.
  2. Stay fully informed of government support packages. Whilst franchisees may be aware of government updates, they may not know how to access or manage these promptly and efficiently. Field managers should also ensure franchisees are operating above the line in only applying what they are entitled to, so they are not putting themselves or the brand at risk.
  3. Focus on cash flow management.  Franchisees need to know their new breakeven point and to stay on top of their weekly cash position. Field managers can assist with weekly cash flow templates to manage debtors and creditors, and should ensure they are across the financial health of each franchisee, so objective assessments can be made on who needs financial assistance.

Operational effectiveness

  1. Review their staff management and HR decisions. Field managers should ensure franchisees are making sound commercial decisions about how to manage their labour costs. While decisions to stand-down or lay-off staff must comply with legal requirements, franchisees need to also maintain the loyalty of staff so they have people to help them as their businesses rebound.
  2. Assist them to ensure everyone feels safe. It is essential that staff and customers are not just kept safe, but they feel safe. Field managers should ensure all COVID-19 safety practices are implemented to 100% compliance, and that everyone having contact with a franchisee’s business is clearly informed of this, including the families of staff.
  3. Be a conduit for new best practice. Best practice today is different from what it was three months ago. Field managers should be collecting all the good strategies and ideas that franchisees are coming up with, and facilitating the sharing of these individually, and through virtual group meetings.

To assist field managers implement these and other important strategies, the Franchise Relationships Institute has organised a virtual Field Manager Forum where participants can learn and share strategies for keeping themselves and their franchisees in good shape. The Forum runs for 90 minutes on Wednesday mornings from 9:30am to 11:00am over five weeks, starting May 6. Click here for details.

This is an edited extract from Greg Nathan’s Healthy Franchise Relationships Tips #195