How to implement sweeping changes in a franchise system: if change is in your future, talk change, lead change, inspire change and do it with confidence knowing you are building a better tomorrow for everyone involved.

Author:Greenbaum, Steve

THE SAYING "THE ONLY THING CONSTANT IS CHANGE" could not be more true in the business world. To survive and thrive, all types of businesses, including franchises, must innovate to keep pace with advancements in technology, increased competition and shifts in customer habits.

Although implementing major changes can be difficult, it can be especially challenging for franchises. That's because franchisors must balance the responsibility of evolving so their franchise partners remain competitive with the challenges of bringing the system along to ensure long-term Success.

Further complicating the matter is the fact that there's a certain level of aversion to change in the franchise community. Franchise brands, after all, hang their hats on proven methods, which, if followed exactly by franchisees will likely result in success at the store level.

While every brand has its own set of unique challenges and opportunities when it comes to managing change, all franchisors can incorporate some key best practices to mitigate resistance in the face of new ideas. This allows brands to more easily usher in innovation and improvements that strengthen the business.

Breed a Culture of Change

If everyone in the system is on board with the general concept of embracing change and truly believes in its merits, it will be much easier to introduce new ideas that enhance the franchise. To cultivate this culture, franchisors should manage expectations at the beginning, preparing potential partners for the possibility of changes at the outset of the relationship. There should be frank discussion about the impending trends and issues that may influence the way the franchise operates in the future so there are no surprises later.

Continuing with a culture of change, franchises can instill a respect and understanding of change within a system by proclaiming this a guiding principal or core value of the company. Officially declaring that change is an inherent aspect of the brand's identity--and why this value is important--the franchisor can encourage partners to become champions of change.

Significant modifications to the status quo are also more likely to be accepted by the entire system if they come from within. At PostNet, for example, we specifically analyze what the top-performing franchises are doing that may be different from others, and then we consider adopting their practices system-wide if it will increase production and profitability for everyone. Often it's as simple...

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