Franchise management trends and perhaps sensitivity around the emotion evoked by the word have seen The C Word being used less and less by franchisors and in franchise circles. By many it is seen literally as a dirty word and not mentioned.
The Big C Word is of course – Compliance
Over recent years the use of the word “Compliance” and even “compliance audits” have been relabelled, downplayed, and even purposely neglected by many franchisors and those managing franchise systems.
The rationale by many franchisors is to avoid conflict and friction with franchisees. The Compliance word and auditing process has been replaced with a plethora of terms, including business development meetings, system reviews, or perhaps business audits. The commonality being the non-use of The C Word – Compliance.
Is it time to call it what it is and proudly bring back The C Word – Compliance? Personally, I believe it is in the best interests of all involved in franchising that system and franchisee management that there should be a real focus and championing of Compliance.
Here’s a few other C Words as to why.
Franchising is based on delivering another C word, consistency. Traditional franchise system management focused and revolving around compliance and or compliance auditing of franchisees.
All the business data, dashboards and profit and loss statements in the world will not identify if a particular franchisee is operating their business according to brand standards.
They could have a great business, but not a great franchise. Only and solely by directly auditing and evaluating the operations against brand standards will consistency be checked, measured and managed.
Franchising relies heavily on commitment. Commitment on the part of the franchisor to maintain and develop the system, processes, products and support of the franchisees.
Commitment on the part of the franchisee to follow the system and processes. An old argument from non-compliant franchisees is that they need to “step outside the system” to make money, or that they could do something better than the system. The reality is that they are not committed to the franchise system.
Good franchise systems are not static, they do change over time and franchisee ideas are incorporated and developed, but no good system can have franchisees doing whatever, whenever. Equally franchisors cannot be successful or introduce change or even maintain compliance without cooperation.
Change, evaluation and even failure with-in a system is successfully undertaken and navigated by cooperation between franchisees and franchisors. If there is not cooperation, I would argue there isn’t commitment and almost certainly there won’t be compliance.
Consumers have expectations and will often make decisions based on brand and the belief that a brand will deliver on their expectations. If a particular franchisee or business unit does not meet the expectation of the consumer against known brand standards, it’s highly likely that they will not be satisfied. The impact is not limited to the individual business unit or franchisee, but to the brand overall.
In franchising, compliance is a result of a number of factors aligning including mutual commitment, cooperation and consistency – something that franchisors and franchisees alike should strive for, be proud of and most importantly be willing to call it and measure it.