November 8, 2018

Two views on franchising

Some people think that successful franchises can only be built on a certain kind of business – one where the job can be reduced to something like painting by numbers, or following a sequence of pictures – e.g. making pizzas or burgers, cleaning cars or ovens or fixing windscreen chips.

This view is based on the notion that franchising is all about systemising (“Macdonaldising”) work procedures down to the nth degree of detail so that you can get inexperienced and therefore cheap people to do it – almost off the street. These people might as well be robots (and almost certainly will be soon).

I think there’s a much more interesting way to think of franchising. Which is that it supports a form of responsible autonomy – enabling a skilled, competent individual to use their judgement to deliver consistently excellent service, without the need for detailed procedures, because they understand how everything they do contributes to an overall process of winning and serving a client.

The first view forces people to follow a specific, spelled-out system, which as a result becomes very easy to copy.

The second builds a system that supports people to be people, which makes it pretty well impossible to copy, and capable of delivering much higher value. It also makes it much more fun to be part of.