When, Why, and How to Adapt
Where we were is not where we are now and not where we are going to be.
As I work with multi-unit franchisee owners across the country, this statement describes many of our conversations around planning and developing talent for the future. Once an industry comprised of "mom and pop" businesses, the number of multi-unit and multi-brand organizations is becoming more prevalent, making the franchisee business a completely different environment than what we have encountered in the past. Franchisees today are building multifaceted complex organizations that are dependent on talent and are both emotionally and financially demanding because of the decreasing margins and competition. Today, day-to-day operations require highly motivated, talented employees who are sought after by competitors.
As with any endeavor of significant value such as innovation, planning for the continuation of success deals with change that will challenge you, your next generation of leaders, and key managers. The move from a mainly "mom and pop" environment to "bigger business" makes us ask the questions; Can you predict where the industry is going? What new concepts will continue to enter the market? What new craze or generational shift will impact consumer behavior? This is just a short list of the many unknowns coming to the industry and, as you know, there is an endless supply of innovators, entrepreneurs, and capitalists who are willing, eager, and able to take your market share for their own.
Therefore, as a call to arms, you must be willing to start contemplating the changes to the business environment and what needs to be done to get in front of them. Furthermore, as the new generation of managers, leaders, and owners emerge on the scene, successor curriculums that include strategic planning for the future must be included. It is vital they contemplate the changes which could impact your current model and seek innovative ways to help your business adapt. The focus is on understanding the ways of the past, but also instilling the creativity needed to innovate and adapt for the challenges of the future.
You must be willing to address the fact that change is coming. As individuals and a unified organization, you must be willing to innovate and adapt. The following steps will help ensure you are tackling the questions of when, why, and how to adapt:
- Discuss and develop performance criteria and expectations for the organization and managers to enable you to determine when it's time to seriously consider innovation or adaption when margins become unbearable.
Without an understanding of how you operate, and your performance non-negotiables, how will you know the current model is no longer working and it is time to get creative?
- Define, confirm, and provide accountability to proven processes and procedures that will enable you to maximize current operations and allow you the discipline to adapt when needed and seek efficiency consistently.
If your managers are following proven processes and procedures "doing the right things, the right number of times" and for all intents and purposes leading in a way to "inspire and get the work done," but across the board the organization is struggling to hit performance metrics, it may be time to identify areas to adapt and change the way the organization fulfills market and customer needs.
- Determine what your next generation leaders need to learn about the past but ensure they have an eye for the future. What must be instilled in every developing leader is the thoroughness required to seek change.
Your empowerment comes with responsibility. If a change or innovation is suggested by a developing leader, a business plan should be required that has analyzed the impacts on personnel, operations, and profits or loss.
- Retain profits for investments in opportunities required by innovation or adaption.
If there are no profits retained or saved, how can you capitalize on innovative profits centers, invest in technology to keep you on the cutting edge, be able to meet market needs with state-of-the-art facilities, or be able to adapt in a potential financial crunch?
- Develop consistent structures that allow you to analyze your vision for business development and growth.
If you do not have regular strategic planning or business development meetings that plan for 3-10 years into the future, how can you be confident you have assessed the challenges on the horizon and are prepared to adapt to them? As a result of these meetings ensure you document, promote and consistently update long-term strategic action plans.
- Embrace the next generation of leadership and management.
The next generation, unless they are clones of you and your existing team, will likely not operate the way you have. Instead of getting aggravated by different approaches to work/leadership, regularly discuss performance criteria, and address areas of underperformance. They may not work the same way "it was done," but recognize their style may meet the changes influencing the business.
Shrinking margins and increased competition continue to require multi-unit franchisees to think out of the box, innovate, and adapt. The bright side is that change requires innovation and adaption which serves as a filter to the future that will handicap or eliminate competitors unwilling to take on this task and provide increased profits and opportunities to those willing to embrace the change. With the potential of "proven business models slipping away," the need to innovate and adapt is most crucial to future success.
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