Creating trust is a big factor in this – how can you communicate expectations if you do not have a positive relationship with the members of your team?
The work-from-home (WFH) revolution is here to stay. With many businesses now offering at least some form of a hybrid-working model, putting the best remote-working systems in place has never been more important for your franchise. In fact, 70 per cent of UK employees feel that flexible working makes a job more attractive, and 30 per cent would prefer flexible working to a pay rise. When you combine this with the fact that 76.4 per cent of UK professionals are intending to look for a new job in 2022, the need for a robust and attractive work-from-home system has never been more desirable.
Since we pivoted to remote working at the start of the pandemic, Expense Reduction Analysts (ERA) has been crafting a bespoke work-from-home strategy for its 700-plus global franchise partners. Here is what I have learnt so far about how to optimise your remote-working model to get the best results for your franchise in 2022.
Productivity is one of the key buzzwords I often hear when it comes to working from home. But in my opinion, I feel there’s a growing disconnect between employees and employers on just how hard people are working when at home. If you have any concerns that productivity levels are low amongst those in your team or franchise that are working remotely then you must ask yourself the question, “Are we doing enough to incentivise and support productivity?”. Creating trust is a big factor in this – how can you communicate expectations if you do not have a positive relationship with the members of your team? Recognising successful performance also goes a long way in keeping people motivated and engaged. We have been utilising – and reaping the benefits of – remote working since the start of the first lockdown. Instead of a drop off in performance, we have found the opposite is true. In fact, we have seen a 40 per cent increase in client acquisition against 2020.
The strength of a franchise comes from the network of people who are working towards the same goal. In my experience, encouraging collaboration is key in being successful in competitive and crowded marketplaces. As a global network, we have already experienced years of success from instilling a culture of collaboration, but we have leaned into this even more since the start of the pandemic. Our analysts have an average of 20 years of both industry and sector experience - a fantastic pool of knowledge when you consider our 700-plus franchise partners globally. Many of our franchise partners do not even prospect clients, but instead, they make their living from collaborating with other members of our network. I believe allowing your franchisees to tailor their business to their individual needs gives them the freedom to be successful. At ERA, some of our franchise partners choose to employ staff, while others prefer to work individually or within the network. It really is their choice on how they decide to run the business and as a franchisor, you should be there to support their journey. Think about what you can do to encourage collaboration. Events such as remote mixers really showcase different skillsets and can be brilliant when you’re trying to foster more collaboration in your network.
Training is just the start of a franchisee’s journey – don’t be in danger of assuming that initial training is enough to set your franchisees up for success over the longer term. In a situation where, for many people, working from home can seem overwhelming, having a comforting arm around a franchisee’s shoulder will make all the difference. Dedicated support allows for franchisees to have the freedom and autonomy they desire, whilst also having access to support systems and ongoing training as and when it’s required. It’s important to consider what initiatives you could put in place to better support your franchisees in their business. For example, we have dedicated area developers who help create and nurture relationships between our franchise partners in their region. This creates a sense of connection that optimises the work-from-home model in our network.
Franchise partner’s view
The flexibility that the franchise model at ERA offers has not only led to increased profitability for Stuart Hallam but also the work-life balance he was craving.
“Being in control of when I work is a particularly fulfilling part of my role at ERA,” he says. “I know if I have something that needs my immediate attention in my personal life, I can find the time in my day to deal with it. The option of working remotely also has its benefits. I’m a huge advocate of having regular screen breaks, so once I’ve had a client call or I’ve completed an administrative task, I often go for a walk to clear my head. This is how I best operate and as an ERA franchise partner, I can make those decisions for myself.”
Tim Barber-Lomax is business development manager at ERA. His role is to broaden ERA’s capacity to assist clients by growing their network of consultants, developing new services and building relationships with complementary third-party partners.