Best Practices for the Chief Everything Officer
CEOs of most middle and large-sized companies rely on a leadership team of experienced managers to help them succeed. As a small business owner, you don’t have the luxury of hiring managers to focus on Human Resources, Sales, Marketing, Finance or even Operations. You are in charge of everything associated with your business. You do it all and as such you are the Chief Everything Officer of your business. For many, this seems daunting. After all, how can one person be on top of, and an expert in, all aspects of a business? When you choose to go the franchising route, you are not alone in this endeavor. Most franchisees can find support and best practices in two important places: the franchise corporation and your fellow franchisees.
Let’s start with the franchise corporation. Many provide some type of operating manual, in which best practices for running your business are outlined. This could include everything from hours of operation to customer service protocols, and everything in between. Some franchise corporations mandate certain best practices while others offer them as recommendations. It’s important to know the level of required adherence to these types of things so you understand how much autonomy you have in decision making and operations. Keep in mind that the guidelines in operating manuals provided by the corporations are typically based on these key factors:
- Real-life business experience, validated across a larger network of locations
- Financially sound in terms of cost of goods/products, pricing and overall revenue generation
- Consistent customer experience to support the brand
- Liability and other risk factors you may face as a small business owner
- What’s best for the corporation and network of franchisees as a whole
Typically, franchisees will review their operating manual as part of an initial training before opening their business. Once you are up and running, living the business day to day, it’s easy to forget about the manual as times goes on. Some operating manuals are better than others, but it’s always a good idea to stay abreast of the recommendations to give you the best chance of success. Another advantage is their platform of either required or recommended vendors. In most cases, these programs give you the collective buying power of all the franchise locations in your business and the specific vendors have been carefully vetted on your behalf. These programs inherently offer you best practices by the specific product and/or services offered. This is especially true when it comes to things like business insurance and payroll services, where lack of experience can be both costly and damaging to your business survival.
The second source for best practices is your network of franchisee colleagues. As a franchisee, you are backed by the power of your brand and the network of other small business owners within the franchise. You can learn from other franchise owners by attending local networking meetings and franchise conventions. Occasionally you may run up against a fellow franchisee who is unwilling to help and views you more as a competitor. But in my experience, most franchise owners recognize that the strength of any franchise equates to the weakest link and are willing to share best practices if they can.
Local or regional networking meetings are typically free, other than the time you devote to attending. When it comes to annual conventions, there are often travel costs that you have to consider. Usually, the investment you make in attending these types of meetings pay off in terms of new ideas to run and promote your business, and you return re-energized and re-motivated. And just as importantly, attending the conventions helps you establish a good working relationship with members of the corporate team, which can help you immeasurably as you operate your business over time.
There are lots of places for you to find best practices that will help you operate and promote your business. The most successful franchisees access these regularly and oftentimes are instrumental in helping to establish them by participating in franchise committees and through regular communication with their colleagues.