Chris Wootton, managing director of Poppies, explores some of the main reasons why business ethics is important for franchise owners and how they can help a business grow and increase profits
Business ethics is more than just a concept used to improve the image of a company. It is the very foundation of success and should be implemented from the first moment a franchise starts trading.
A business can offer great service or an innovative product, but with unquestionable ethics, those might not even matter. Good business ethics are important to any business, but to a franchise brand and the long-term sustainability of its franchise network, they’re essential as they will attract and retain highly talented people, as well as create customer loyalty and depict a positive public image.
Customers, management, and employees all appreciate honest and ethical practices so having good business ethics can bring immeasurable recognition to your franchise. Customers will always want to do business with a company they trust and it will also help your business to retain a great reputation, avoid any potential legal issues and have a positive effect on your financials, which ultimately benefits everyone involved.
Reputation is key
Business ethics have become increasingly important to a franchise brand’s reputation, particularly at a time when public opinion can go viral in an instant. Having a good reputation for ethical behaviour can help generate a more positive image for your business, leading to new customers through word-of-mouth. Likewise, a reputation for unethical dealings can harm a franchise’s chances to gain new customers, particularly when dissatisfied customers turn to social media to spread negative experiences.
Businesses should be consistently ethical in how they treat employees, customers, and the community, as well as the way they source or build products. This can not only boost franchise sales and public image, but it will also generate positive publicity and strengthen support if ever there was a crisis such as business defamation on social media.
Business ethics drives employee behaviour
Employees who work for a business that commands a high standard of business ethics across all areas of its operations are more likely to perform their job with increased productivity, have greater morale and stay loyal to their employer for longer. It is the management team that sets the tone or behaviour, so it is vital that they lead the business in a suitable manner to ensure employees follow in their footsteps.
We pride ourselves on operating in an ethical manner and give our workforce a working environment that is safe, secure, flexible and rewarding. By maintaining great relationships with our staff, we create a more positive, cooperative and rewarding work environment for both our management teams and their employees. We employ everyone directly, which is a rarity in the cleaning industry where many highly experienced workers are forced to become self-employed, and they have the same benefits as an employee in any other industry, including paid holidays, sick days and career advancement.
For example, Nicky Robinson joined Poppies West Lancs two years ago, beginning her career as a cleaner and then promoted to team leader and trainer. “Before I joined Poppies, I was working for myself and had lost all my self-confidence and personal motivation. This all seems a distant memory now as I celebrate my second-year anniversary and my outlook on life is completely different. A career path wasn’t important for me when I joined the business, but having someone believe I was capable, drove me to want more and I’m so proud of what I’ve achieved. In my role now, I manage 20 staff and organise their schedules and quality of work, as well as train new personnel when they join.
“Poppies has bought so much positivity to my life and my confidence has rocketed. I love coming to work and enjoy every day! Being employed and having the other benefits that come with it, such as holiday pay are important, but for me, it’s more about the transparency and openness between everyone – Chris Wootton has created a fantastic culture with great ethics. I never thought I would ever say it, but I miss coming to work when I’m not there!” says Nicky.
Attracting the best talent
To attract the best talent on the market, it’s crucial that you create a reputation as somewhere candidates want to come and work. Franchises well-known for their ethical practices, coupled with their services or products, will be able to attract the strongest candidates merely on their reputation within a particular sector or industry.
Poppies’ hiring strategy is based on finding talented, experienced and passionate domestic workers who have a background in the industry and are interested in long-term employment. We understand the value of having brilliant staff, which is why we are so strong in our commitment to treat every single employee fairly and with great respect for the work that they do. Longevity is a frequent term used at Poppies with lots of our staff staying with us for many years due to the flexible packages and employment standards we offer.
Benefits the bottom line
Another reason why business ethics is important is that it can improve profitability. Business ethics cultivates trust, which then strengthens branding and increases sales of your services or products. Consumers do care about a business’s ethics and brand values and will stop buying from brands they perceive to be unethical. If a business can communicate their ethics clearly, they are more likely to see consumers spend with them and for them to return again and again.
Franchises that practice good business ethics face less risk of fines and other penalties. Tempting as it is to cut corners, such as not complying with labour laws or ignoring worker safety hazards, the penalties for being caught can be brutal resulting in legal fees, fines or sanctions by governmental agencies. Franchises that maintain the highest ethical standards are unlikely to find themselves in these situations.
A company’s ethics and corporate social responsibility matter more today than in previous years, with employees now placing higher importance on the values of their employers than ever before. Understanding the significance of ethics in business is the key to a franchise’s success – it not only cultivates trust, which strengthens branding and sales, but it is also closely linked to customer loyalty. To ensure you maintain a great reputation, have the top talent working for your business and avoid significant financial and legal issues, then now is the time to promote your franchise’s ethical behaviour.
Chris Wootton is owner, managing director and also a longstanding franchisee of Poppies with over two decades of experience in both the cleaning and franchise industries.