What Do Aspen Trees and Franchising Have in Common?

This week, Greg Nathan provides us with an analogy on how Aspen trees can be used in describing how a franchise network operates.  

Aspen trees are a great analogy for a franchise network.

A few weeks ago, while in Denver, I had an opportunity to go for a drive in the Rocky Mountains with a colleague, Katrina Mitchell, who lives in the vicinity. At one point, we pulled over to view an amazing sight – a mountain covered in glistening, golden Aspen trees of all shapes and sizes. 

The effect of these beautiful trees, shimmering in the breeze was spellbinding. Katrina explained that Aspen forests are actually one living organism connected underground. 

On returning to Australia, I did some research on Aspen forests and discovered they are incredibly hardy and adaptable, with root systems that are often thousands of years old. I also learned the Aspen are often used as a symbol for strength of community.  

What a great analogy for a franchise network – a community of business people, growing together and drawing strength from their interdependent connections. 

Indeed, this combination of individuality and connectedness is one of the keys to success in franchising. However, getting the balance right isn't easy. Too much individuality creates chaos and an inconsistent customer experience. It also deprives franchisees of the benefits that come from true collaboration.  

On the other hand, too much connectedness can cause franchise systems to become excessively internally focused. Franchisees can also become overly dependent on their franchisor. Common symptoms of this are not taking responsibility for one's own growth and failing to take the initiative to promote the business locally. 

So how do franchise systems achieve the right balance? I suggest there are two factors. The first relates to selection and induction, the second to franchisor leadership.

The goal of a selection and induction process is to ensure each franchisee is ready, willing and able to take responsibility for managing their own business. Sure, they will need to draw heavily on the support of their franchisor in the early stages, but they ultimately need to develop the confidence and skills to stand on their own. 

Taking responsibility for one's own business is different to being a loner. People who have a deep need to always call the shots, have their own way or who habitually resist the rules of others, will find it hard to operate in a franchise network. In other words, franchisees must be willing to fit in and occasionally compromise their own short term interests for the longer term good of the group. 

With regard to leadership, franchisors need to regularly define and clearly communicate which aspects of their franchise system are fixed or non-negotiable and what aspects are flexible and open to local innovation. They also need to provide opportunities for ongoing learning and development to keep people green and growing. 

Just like an Aspen forest, great franchise systems enable franchisees to stand tall and grow on their own while they simultaneously remain connected and draw strength and protection from the group. 

If we are open and observant, nature can teach us a lot about effective teamwork, which is critical for success in all areas of life, especially in a franchise network.

Greg Nathan, Founder
Franchise Relationships Institute

Often described as the international thought-leader and expert on franchise relationships, no one understands the unique challenges and rewards inherent in the franchisee-franchisor relationship like Greg and his team of psychologists at Franchise Relationships Institute. They have spent 20 years researching the science of successful franchise relations. Working with hundreds of franchise systems around the world, Greg and his team have developed some remarkable tools and models to help franchisors create profitable partnerships. 

Would you like to work directly with Greg?  

Greg will be available March 20 – 28, 2012 for custom sessions in North America!

 This is a great opportunity to co-create a targeted 1/2 day or full day program for your team based on Greg's clear, actionable, content and your specific objectives. 

Give me a call right away if you are interested.  These are the only confirmed dates that Greg will be here in North America in 2012. 

More soon!

Katrina
303-669-9905 

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