Justin Nihiser, CEO of Code Ninjas, offers his tips on how to identify a franchisor who encourages a collaborative work culture
Accountability is a crucial component of a successful franchise. While great strategies, systems and services are important, franchisee accountability can be a brand’s biggest competitive advantage. Setting clear expectations creates the foundation of a strong franchisor-franchisee relationship. A credible franchisor not only sets these standards for its franchisees but ensures they have the tools and resources to meet and exceed them. A franchisor that prioritises regular discussions and review of business progression should be high on the list of priorities for prospective franchisees.
Justin Nihiser, CEO of kids coding franchise Code Ninjas, discusses the importance of creating a culture of accountability among a franchisee network.
Accountability in business, and specifically, for franchisees, means taking responsibility for your own actions and, in some cases, your own inactions. It’s recognising and owning your own strengths and weaknesses and ensuring that you engage in all available systems and support programmes in order to achieve your goals.
At Code Ninjas, we have the technology and the systems in place to alert us when franchisees might be experiencing a challenge – but the effectiveness of our input would be limited to the willingness of the franchisee to be open, honest and accountable. When both parties come together and work collaboratively, the results can be both empowering and exciting!
Prospective franchisees should look out for a franchisor who has regular and in-depth touch points with its network as a whole and on a one-to-one basis. Any brand not doing this as standard would be a warning sign for me. From the initial business plan to regular reviews, targets and goals should be closely monitored and any trends explored. I think it’s important to remember that a good franchisee-franchisor relationship is a partnership, not a dictatorship, so during due diligence go to your discovery meetings armed with questions that draw out examples of accountability in action. When and where have things gone awry in the past, what has been done to recalibrate and how have individual franchisees and the network as a whole benefitted as a result? Lessons will always be learnt on both sides for the benefit of the entire business.
This mutual process builds a strong bond of trust and mutual respect between franchisee and franchisor.
As a discipline, accountability puts you in the driving seat of your franchise and strengthens your relationship with the franchise support team through regular, positive engagement.
Clear and well-defined responsibilities and expectations mean you’ll never be left struggling – there will always be opportunities to ask for and accept assistance.
A franchise brand that openly champions two-way accountability will have a happier, more collaborative and engaged network – an incredible thing to be a part of.
As you grow and become more confident and capable, your accountability will be embedded to such an extent that you rely less on support from your franchisor and can truly step into your autonomy as a franchise owner.
Here’s a simple but effective two-way accountability at work within Code Ninjas. We require new franchisees to reach a minimum of 40 sign-ups for coding sessions before they can even open the doors of their new business. This is a clearly defined target which demonstrates to our prospects what we expect of them – and the level at which they should aim to operate. In return, our proven model provides the knowledge and tools to achieve this, with regimented check-ins along the way.
Spotting a culture of accountability
Goal setting – ensure this is more than a one-off, box-ticking exercise during business planning stage. The process of developing clear, challenging, yet attainable objectives – and reviewing them – should be a regular occurrence.
Two-way feedback – a mechanism for regular feedback from within the network is essential. What is in place for suggestions, observations, and even the occasional complaint to make its way back to the head office team? And how is this information utilised once it’s there? Franchisors offering a regular feedback loop are setting you up for long-term success.
Permission to make mistakes – a brand should be committed to helping its franchisees learn and grow from accidental mistakes. Look out for a culture of support rather than blame – ideally anecdotally during discussions with existing franchisees. It’s natural for a franchisor to offer you the cream of the crop to speak to. Ask to chat with a few mid-level performers too and make your own mind up about whether these individuals are taking accountability.
Practise what you preach – look to those in positions of leadership for your cues. A franchisor who takes accountability seriously will be committed to holding up their end of the relationship. Delivering to their network in terms of training, support and ongoing developments to keep the brand at the forefront of its industry. Can you see a culture of productivity, honesty and respect at all levels when you start on your due diligence journey?
Promoting a culture of 360 accountability ensures a clear understanding between all parties – franchisor, franchisee and customer. With clear expectations and open communication, everyone can experience their own win.
Justin Nihiser is CEO of kids coding franchise Code Ninjas.