Greg Nathan's Franchise Relations Tip #22: What Fred DeLuca Taught Me at Niagara Falls

h3>Greg Nathan's Tip #22

This week Greg addresses the importance of communicating clearly, simply and directly within your franchise organization.

What Fred DeLuca Taught Me at Niagara Falls

A few weeks ago I met Fred DeLuca, the founder of Subway. We were the opening speakers at the Canadian Franchise Association Conference. Fred opened, I followed. Fred's talk was interesting but I was more fascinated by the man himself. He appeared to be low key and easy going – and almost dreamy. I figured there had to be more to him than meets the eye. I wasn't wrong, as I was to find out.

That evening at the conference awards dinner we were discussing our earlier presentations over a rather tough and gristly steak. Fred said he and his team, who were also at the conference, had been impressed at my ability to communicate complex concepts in such a simple and clear manner. My head swelled.

“Well, saying things clearly and simply is something we pride ourselves on in our business,” I responded with pride. He seemed impressed and nodded as he continued to cut through his steak. Given I was talking to the top guy of a global network with over 34,000 franchisees I thought I should not overlook the opportunity to make a good impression. So I continued. “Actually, using jargon is a sackable offence as far as I'm concerned.”

At this point Fred gently put down his knife and fork and turned to face me. “And how many people have you sacked for using jargon,” he asked pointedly with a twinkle in his eye. There was an awkward moment as I realized what had just happened. “Nice one,” I replied. “I have never sacked anyone for using jargon!” We both laughed.

He had called me out in a disarmingly simple manner. I smiled as I told him how Ann, my wife, sometimes pulls me up for exaggerating. It also broke the ice for what evolved into a stimulating discussion on a range of issues.

The value of straight talking

The point of this story is not so much to boast about sharing the stage with Fred DeLuca (but it was cool) or admitting to one of my foibles (not so cool). It is more to highlight a quality I have noticed in most successful people, and one that works particularly well in the

franchising sector. It is their preparedness to get to the point and ask simple, straight forward questions on things they want to know. It's also their ability to read a situation and state exactly what is going on – what we call in our training, “calling them out.” This takes a combination of curiosity, courage and clear thinking.

Most people who work in the franchise sector, especially franchisees, like to communicate in a direct and down to earth manner. It is what makes the culture of franchising so different to the political shenanigans so common in large bureaucracies.

I have found that franchisees definitely prefer to be told unpleasant facts directly rather than listen to waffle or spin that disguises the truth. “If the answer is no, just tell us,” they say. “Don't beat around the bush.” Of course you also need to maintain a measure of empathy and respect.

This preparedness to state the facts – to ask direct straightforward questions, to state simply what is really going on in a situation – is a quality I also regularly see in the best field consultants. And it was what Fred DeLuca exhibited when he called me out with that simple question.

We'll be practicing several effective communication techniques in live role-plays at our upcoming Profitable Partnerships Boot Camps. Hope you can join us!

Until next time,

Greg Nathan
Franchise Relationships Institute

Greg will be talking more about effective communication at our upcoming Profitable Partnerships Boot Camps – Dallas September 23 & 24, 2011 and Denver October 4 & 5, 2011.  Registration is now open. Please join us!

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