Keeping seasoned franchisees engaged in growing their businesses, and providing meaningful contributions to a multi-unit owner who has been in the system for a long time, can be challenging for franchisors. In some franchise systems, franchisees develop more experience in store operations than the franchisor has (think of large multi-unit franchisees and franchisors with few corporate-owned businesses). Peer mentoring can fuel franchisee professional development and broaden business savvy for this group. Here, too, the franchisor should play a role in selection of participants. Consider how to make this an elite and inviting option for mature franchise owners.
Elements of successful peer mentoring groups include:
- Clear criteria for participation which is made known to all franchisees.
- Confidentiality of all information shared within the group.
- On-site visits to one another’s businesses followed by frank feedback.
- Candid disclosure by group participants about their business challenges, goals and financials.
- Commitment by the group to provide each member with an equal share of time and attention. This can come in the form of rotating focus at every meeting, or by focusing on a different individual’s business at each meeting.
The franchisor’s role in such groups is varied and warrants open discussion about what franchisees want. The group may want to facilitate its own meetings without the franchisor’s presence. On the other hand, it may assist franchisees to have corporate personnel present as well as involved in planning the meeting logistics, such as where and when the meetings will occur, who pays for associated costs of meeting rooms, meals, travel, etc.
Remember, one of the benefits of a franchise system is the cross-fertilization of ideas and savvy within the franchisee community. Mentoring in franchise training, whether with new franchisees as protégés or amongst franchisees as peers, leverages this brand advantage. Don’t forget to use it!