How To Engage & Retain Franchise Employees

BDC Partners, how to retain franchise employees for franchise business growth

Can you guess the percentage of employees in the franchise sector that DON’T work for the franchisor?

You know the ones, face to face with the customer and each day have the greatest impact on service levels, customer satisfaction…and your revenue.

Now running a franchise business brings plenty of unique challenges for employee retention for a franchisor whose staff can create balance in their work day if needed, are paid well enough and if a franchisor is proactive, are being developed for other roles.

The challenges for franchise owners in the majority of the franchise sector including food service, hospitality, retail, health and fitness, or other industries with multiple locations are far more significant. 

There are several million employees in franchise systems working in thousands of different environments. Creating a great culture and mastering employee engagement is essential practice for any company that wants to thrive, but these cultures can range wildly from location to location based on different management styles. 

Engaging non ‘head office’ workers is especially difficult with over 40% of them disconnected from their employers. Preventing this disconnect has to be a top priority for management teams overseeing multiple locations. While it seems tough to align everyone without leading in person, there are ways to not only survive, but thrive.

Set company-wide goals

Setting goals is always a helpful practice, and it’s an especially important one when each branch may have different priorities. There are two levels to this when managing a franchise – each location’s individual goals, and the goals of the company at large.

Promote company mission and values

Align your employees and maintain a great company reputation by promoting the values your company holds true and preaching your mission. The way a company carries itself doesn’t only influence their customer base, but their worker base as well.  Employees who believe their company has a higher purpose are more likely to remain in their jobs.

Invest in local managers

An employee’s direct manager has the strongest impact on their overall satisfaction and engagement. For example in a recent Franchising@WORK survey, 84 percent of respondents rated their managers positively on all key criteria. The importance of great managers can not be understated. On the single question of “My manager cares about my success,” positive responders were three times more likely to refer a job candidate to their company, and four times more likely to stay long-term.

Have clear measures for individual performance

Like many business organizations, employees at franchise companies would like to see better measures of individual performance. While these areas scored higher compared to many industries, it is among the five lowest-rated areas. The good news for franchise companies is that managers and leadership can easily influence these areas without a significant investment of time or resources. 

A universal Learning Management System

Training, onboarding and educating should be the same across every branch in order to align teams and keep company standards high. However, as you probably know, that’s rarely the case. That’s why adopting a Learning Management System is an essential element of employee engagement for companies that want to keep that consistency across all locations. 

With standardized training/onboarding and recurring educational material that updates automatically, you can feel assured that all your frontline workers are being introduced to their positions in the same way. They prefer the LMS style overall and a high percentage of deskless workers prefer short, spaced-out lessons to one-time on site training events.

Allow upwards mobility

When your teams know they can move up their branch’s ladder, you’ll see extra effort from new workers and you’ll foster extra experience from your experienced managers who’ve been hired from within. In fact, employees who feel they’re progressing upwards are 20% more likely to stay in their companies.

Encourage cross-location communication

Make sure each worker feels connected with teammates in other locations by committing to a robust messaging system and encouraging teams to get to know each other. Even some of the biggest corporations forget how engaging it is to be able to talk to members of other branches to discuss work experiences and exchange tips on best practices. 

It’s also helpful to use these messaging platforms within individual branches instead of improvising scattershot communication practices. 72% of non head office  workers indicated that their employers communicate with them in off-hours on personal channels like phone numbers, which isn’t a good practice to keep up.

Friendly competition between locations

Competition is an underrated way to motivate franchise teams, especially given the lower average age of frontline workers in industries like food and retail. Try proposing an incentive for the branch that sells the most product or gets the best reviews; you might be surprised at how much it increases employee engagement and productivity.

Given that the point of your competition is likely for one branch to reach an important number before another, you can weave this in with your goal-setting initiatives as well.

Focus on employee recognition

A third of employees surveyed feel they are under-compensated for their position and recognition overall is a driver of employee engagement that’s often forgotten.

Whether you’re verbally congratulating them, publicly recognizing them, or giving them a bonus, recognizing your teams with something concrete is proven to boost engagement and efficiency. Studies have shown incentive programs increase productivity by close to 50%

Pay managers/give out bonuses based on a locations profit

If a certain location has a particularly successful year, increasing that manager’s pay and giving out a bonus to the frontline team will motivate them to keep that same productivity up. Bringing that principle to every location could impact productivity immensely.

About the author

Share the post

success is connected

Catch up for a coffee (or a beer)?

Industry insights
straight to your inbox

Join the BDC community!