Ingaging Leadership

Why Your Franchise Needs an Advisory Council . . . and Maybe More than Just One

 

large group of business people listening to someone speaking from the front of the roomAn excerpt from my new book Franchise Advisory Councils: Your Most Powerful Tood for Leading Your Franchise to Ultimate Success. Download your free copy HERE

 

Early in my career, I was part of a franchise system’s leadership team that misused its Franchise Council, thus negating its intended benefits. This was my first experience with an Advisory Council, and though we had one, we gained no benefits due to our flawed approach.

For example, when introducing a new product, we pre-determined its pricing but sought the Advisory Council’s buy-in for approval, hoping they would implement our plans. We were not genuinely seeking their insights; we merely wanted their rubber-stamp. In a staged focus group session at an annual meeting, we presented our pricing plan, but the intent was to get approval rather than honest feedback.

The main issue was our attempt to control the outcome instead of genuinely soliciting ideas. The meeting was brief and steered towards our desired conclusion. The root problem lay in the setup of our Council, which did not foster genuine advice or feedback, contrary to a Council’s purpose.

Moreover, the upper management hand-picked Council members, selecting franchisees who were agreeable and comfortable, effectively creating a group of “yes people.” At the time, this seemed acceptable as we treated members well, hosting them in elegant locations and providing lavish meals, which kept everyone happy.

However, we missed the fundamental purpose of an Advisory Council—to provide feedback aiding in critical decision-making for the franchise system. Advisory Councils should be engaged early in the process, not just for approval at the end. In our case, involving the Council at the end meant they only approved plans without contributing to their formation.

Eventually, I learned from this mistake. The rubber-stamped pricing structures needed continual revision as they failed to perform. Franchisees provided feedback only when sales dropped, which should have been obtained at the process’s start.

When I later created more effective Advisory Councils, I avoided selecting “yes people.” We encouraged “squeaky wheels” among franchisees, those who highlighted problems, to join the Council. Their critical feedback was invaluable.

We also diversified the Council in several ways. We sought regional diversity to address different challenges and opportunities across the country, and varied the size and sales volume of franchises represented to capture a broad spectrum of issues and perspectives. We increased Council membership to 24 to ensure comprehensive representation.

Instead of hand-picking compliant members, we recruited genuine contributors. This shift allowed us to benefit from diverse and meaningful feedback, essential for making informed decisions and improving the franchise system. By engaging the Advisory Council early in the decision-making process, we harnessed their insights effectively, leading to better outcomes for the entire franchise system.

If You’re a Franchise, Download Your Free Copy of This Book Today

Today’s article is an excerpt from my new book Franchise Advisory Councils: Your Most Powerful Tood for Leading Your Franchise to Ultimate Success. Download your free copy HERE

Close up of Evan Hackel
Evan Hackel

 

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