Silos are good for one thing, and one thing only: holding stuff back.
I grew up in the Midwest, so silos were a familiar site to me as a child. These huge concrete structures held enormous quantities of grain to be shipped off to other parts of the country, and they never moved. Ever. Of course, the silos were doing exactly what they were supposed to: hold stuff back and not move.
In the dynamic world of franchising, silos have no place. Franchises are complex organizations made up of independent franchisees supported by a corporate structure of marketing, operations, real estate and construction, and business development teams. By its nature franchising is fragmented and disconnected, which is why it is so important to tear down all of the silos.
Without those giant, immovable objects in the way, you can achieve three important keys to success for franchisee and franchisor alike: clear communication, level expectations, and focused execution.
Clear communication. Silos prevent clear communication. If you can create a dialogue and have tough conversations, both internally and with your franchisees, you'll be surprised where it will take you. We've done it at Donatos. We involve all the key stakeholders in the recruiting process because we understand the impact this can have on successfully educating our franchise partner candidates.
Level expectations. Unless everyone in the organization understands what you are trying to accomplish, no one can truly understand what is expected of them and, more important, why it's expected. Since our business development team knows exactly what our operations and marketing professionals expect of our franchise partners, we begin educating them early in the process about the most important aspects of the business. It makes all the difference in the onboarding process after the sale.
Focused execution. This is where the money is made. With clear communication and level expectations, franchisees can execute the franchisor's proven system and everyone can be happy and successful. Without clear communication and level expectations, the whole system falls apart. It might not happen right away, but it will happen.
We call our franchisees "franchise partners" for a reason. There aren't any barriers to communication, expectations, or execution between us. Break down the silos in your organization, and you can drive results on both sides of the table. Do that, and there's no holding you back.
How many franchisors are led by a singular, passionate founder who brought a great idea to market? If you answer "a lot," that would be an understatement! Of course there is nothing wrong with a "founder run" business if in fact they know to share decision-making, authority, communication, and trust with other worthy leaders in the company.
Of course one way of sustaining singular authority is to allow silos to grow and exist between departments. This is effective for the singular leader because that person becomes the only conduit between silos. I have seen this happen time and again in other brands, and not always on purpose. Department heads and singular leaders have built relationships over years, if not decades. These relationships sometimes create walls that lead to silos growing throughout an organization... which leads to a stifling of creativity, procrastination, and always a lack of accountability for the overall plan.
A well-executed plan and system are what franchisee prospects are looking for--from more than one person or department--which is always why well-heeled franchisees often ask the following question: What plans are in place if the singular leader/founder leaves or sells the company for any reason? The franchisee prospect is looking for a franchisor to answer with well-distributed, team-oriented leadership throughout the company; leaders who are not manipulated to work harder, but instead challenged to take command and lead without the restriction of silos.
The reason a franchise system is worth buying into is the fact that the "system" transcends any one human or department! In fact the bottom line is that the desired franchisee finds two enduring business metrics:
At our brand, Famous Dave's, we have a unique culture. We call it our "Famous Family." Families of all kinds, of course, are not perfect. What makes our family work is the fact that we continue to communicate and make an effort toward a common goal: growing the brand profitably for our franchisees and shareholders! We share this common goal without silos because we are passionate about the outcome. We share our message in a unified way because it provides security to large, multi-unit franchisees. Franchisees want to see a team of competent leaders rowing in the same direction. We spend a lot of time, money, and effort to attract the right type of franchisee.
Remaining flexible, resilient, and silo-free allows us to cement those relationships and bring new franchisees into the "Famous Family."
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