Developing effective field representatives to assist franchisees: developing effective, committed, passionate, top-performing field representatives is essential to developing a growing, profitable and strong franchise system.

Author:Monson, Catherine

A key position for most successful franchise companies is the field representative. The field representative is the primary point of contact, support and service for franchisees. Outstanding support is delivered by outstanding field representatives. Critical to the success of the franchisee and the franchise system is the ability for the franchise company to hire, train, develop and motivate outstanding field representatives to assist and support the franchisees. This begins by hiring the right people; providing outstanding initial and ongoing training; offering thorough and open two-way communication; providing resources and tools needed for representatives to excel; and executing thoughtful management.

Hiring the Right People

Effective hiring always begins with a thorough, specific job description that includes the requisite education, training, industry experience, skill-sets and personality characteristics needed for the position. One wants to hire smart, friendly, outgoing, organized people with relevant industry experience who have strong communication and interpersonal skills, know how to follow up effectively and have a passion for the business. Effective field representatives have unique characteristics no matter what industry the franchise company is engaged in: they are able to build rapport with franchisees; they have empathy and understanding of what the franchisee encounters every day; and they truly care about the franchisees and their success.

Franchisees are busy, can be overwhelmed by day-to-day operations and activities, and may not be willing to listen to the field representative until they truly believe he or she cares about them and their success. Many franchisees have seen field representatives come and go and have stories about others who, when they visited, were there just to "go through the motions" or complete a checklist. But the field representatives who truly cared and provided substantive service, support and value are never forgotten and always appreciated. Having some small-business experience is always a plus. Understanding the challenges small-business people face daily will help the representative prioritize those actions the franchisee has agreed to undertake. Representatives will be far more successful at achieving results through franchisees if they can get the franchisee to focus on two or three action items at a time, rather than asking them to tackle many things on many fronts at the same time. Keeping franchisees moving forward on the "first things first," "what's...

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