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Walking into my first shop on my very first day as a Franchise Field Coach for M&M Food Markets was nerve wracking to say the least. I knew the business inside and out, and I knew what franchisees could implement to become more profitable. Even still, I was anxious walking in on that first day
It didn’t help that I was 20 years old and the daughter of the founder. I had big shoes to fill and I received many eye rolls in my first year as I bounced from location to location trying to convince these mainly older, male franchisees (who had invested their life savings!), that I could help them with how to improve their business.
That first year as a Field Coach (and the many years after that) presented important challenges and taught me critical lessons. I experienced a whole new understanding of people, leadership, franchisee profitability, and the complex, delicate relationships within a franchise system.
One of these lessons is that in order to motivate people to do what you are asking of them (aka take you seriously and take your advice), you need to establish credibility and trust.
How do you do this? I learned the hard way that it was by tapping into your “soft skills”, such as listening, empathy, and compassion.
If you are a franchisor, I’m sure you know that the number one driver of franchise company growth (as well as adding new franchises) is franchisee profitability.
Franchisee profitability is an area of passion at AC Inc., as I personally have lived and breathed in the shoes of a franchisee, and, at the end of the day, if we weren’t profitable, we weren’t happy. And if we weren’t happy, we were not promoting the franchise opportunity to others who inquired.
Since the role of the Field Coach is to help franchisees with engagement and profitability, it is clearly a very important role. In fact, at AC Inc, we believe it is the most important and probably most difficult role in the franchise system.
I remember showing up to help franchisees and getting yelled at because of something someone at the home office said or did. Or sometimes they would cry their hearts out to me because they came into the system under-capitalized and running out of money and now it was my job to help turn the ship around. NOT KIDDING!
A franchise Field Coach handles some of the most pivotal tasks in creating successful franchisees. Including but not limited to…
This is an incredibly unique role – not just in franchising but in business in general. The Field Coach is responsible for critical elements of a successful franchise. So when you are seeking and training your Field Coach, how do you ensure you are setting them up for success?
Setting your Field Coaches up for success starts with attracting the right type of person (sound familiar, just like when thinking of awarding franchises!)
Some examples of the traits and skills a Field Coach needs to have includes:
Generally this person is hired and then trained around the business, brand guidelines, franchising knowledge, and other technical aspects of the business.
The key aspect of training that we see missing so often is the crucial training of how to connect with, listen to, and motivate franchisees as a part of the corporate team. This includes the relational skills, the active listening strategies, and the language around franchisee / franchisor relationships.
Too often, we see Field Coaches get frustrated because they can’t get their franchisees to do what they need to do to grow their businesses. Showing up and trying to tell a franchisee just doesn’t work for the majority of franchisees. Trust me, I’ve been on the receiving end when I was a multi-unit franchisee.
When our Field Coaches would come in with an authoritative approach, we automatically got our backs up and didn’t want to listen to anything they had to say. Unfortunately this a by-product of these folks not having the proper training and ongoing coaching
Have more questions about training field coaches? We discuss this and more in our free virtual AC Roundtables where franchisors gather on zoom to collaborate and problem-solve together.
The AC Roundtables are a free resource we offer franchisors who are seeking collaboration and peer-to-peer learning. We’ve been running these virtual roundtables since 2020 and we always love to have new franchisors join us!
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