Unit Managers

How you can keep your unit managers motivated and productive

Many new franchisees discover that they love being a franchise operator but often quickly learn that they can't always be in the store overseeing operations at all times. This is especially true as single unit operators expand. Since hourly employees typically need oversight, guidance, and sometimes redirection, many franchisee operators often turn to unit managers to help them keep the unit operating at maximum efficiencies. It's this "point man" who often wields the knowledge and power that can significantly affect a franchisee's bottom line. Naturally, you want talented and motivated managers.

But you should know that the unit-level manager's job can be tough. They often have to oversee the store's operation, keep an eye on the store's financial state, and of course, keep the hourly employees on task and inline. As a franchisee, you want to make sure that your manager doesn't get overworked, burned out, and ultimately bolt for the door. But how do you do it?

There are a few things you can do that can help you manage - and motivate - the manager.

  • Make sure the manager's job and responsibilities are clearly defined. You know what you expect from yourself. You know what you expect from your low-level hourly employees. You should do the same for your unit managers. The manager can't be expected to do everything, especially if tasks are not well outlined and given prioritization. They need to know what's expected from them. Be clear with what you expect with every employee in your franchise operation, especially your managers. Clearly defined job expectations will also make your job appraisal meetings easier and more effective.
  • Establish a goal line. Frontline employees come to work, do a job, punch the clock, and go home. Often, unit managers don't have that same sense of completing a task. This can lead to frustration, and ultimately, burn out. Create short-term goals for unit managers so that they, too, can have a sense of finishing a task. One good way to do this is to give them regular monthly, quarterly, and/or annual sales goals. You want your managers to share in a sense of accomplishment.
  • Recognition and power. You recognize hourly employees with awards and perks and you should do the same with your managers. Single them out for recognition in special and unique ways. Let them conduct training for the staff and compliment them on doing a great job at it. Don't be afraid to bring your managers into your planning processes and strategies for growing the company. After all, the managers are in the trenches every day, they see things that are working and not working. Ask for their input and listen. They see employees with potential and those who are just collecting a paycheck. Give them the freedom to hire, discipline, and fire when they deem it necessary. Truly empowered managers can be a fantastic resource for you as a franchisee.
  • Longterm plans. In order to retain quality managers you are going to need to give them more than just a job. Good managers - the kind you want to keep - are going to be interested in a career. If you don't give them that opportunity, they'll look for someone who will. If you have a great manager, begin to bring them into your circle. Allow them to start learning more about the business and refining their management skills. If you expand your franchise empire, you can provide growth opportunities for these managers. Some of them may stay with you for years. Others may even be talented enough to go on and open their own franchise stores.
  • Make it personal. You should let your managers know that you care about them and the job they're doing - and not just once a year at the annual review. Keep lines of communication open and encourage it to go both ways. Set aside time regularly to talk with your managers about how the business is going, what their concerns are, the future, and, when appropriate, how they are doing personally. Exhibiting true concern for your managers can make for a remarkable motivator.

Follow these tips with your unit level managers and you just might become a master motivator, as well as a successful franchise operator.

Published: February 23rd, 2011

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