The Psychology of Franchising: Leverage Positive & Negative Emotional Attractors

The Psychology of Franchising: Leverage Positive & Negative Emotional Attractors

Two decades ago I believed franchising was solely about money and business growth. Fast forward two decades, and after a lot of stress (plus significant hair loss!), it has become obvious to me that successful franchising is all about people.

If you want to create a franchise relationship built on honesty, openness and trust, you need to understand the psychology of human behaviour. Understanding how we operate as humans is the key to a profitable, harmonious relationship between franchisor and franchisee.

Start By Looking Inward…

If you want to build successful, joyous, profitable business relationships, then it is essential to first understand how the human brain works. I’ve heard countless franchisors (plus members of the franchise support team) complain about franchisees not listening to them. The franchisee is not doing what the franchisor needs them to, despite repeated ad-hoc coaching sessions. As the franchisor, you feel like you’re banging your head on the wall, saying the same things over and over.

It’s frustrating because you have a proven model. It makes no sense why a struggling franchisee wouldn’t apply the prescribed steps! So I kept asking: “Why are they not listening to me?

One of the things I’ve learned just over the years is that you have to first look at yourself. You have to ask: What am I doing that is causing them not to follow my advice? What am I not doing?

It’s such an obvious question, except for a long time I wasn’t able to answer it. I assumed it was them, rather than me. So that frustration within the franchisor’s support team is transferred to the franchisee – they too are frustrated because they didn’t come into this expecting to fail. They came in and invested their money, expecting to be a huge success.

What’s Really Going On?

There’s emerging MRI research showing what happens in our brains when we have these conversations. In its simplest terms, we can either engage with a franchisee in a way that triggers a “positive emotional attractor”, or a “negative emotional attractor”.

Every franchisee comes into the business with a clear set of hopes and dreams. In fact, it’s those hopes and dreams that form the desire to invest in the franchise in the first place!

But over time, and very often for a whole host of reasons, franchisees will face a significant number of challenges as they embark on their new franchise journey.

Many franchisees I’ve met have been hugely successful in their careers. They’ve created huge levels of success, perhaps creating significant wealth. Suddenly they are parachuted into a new environment that is completely alien to them. They’re perhaps realising, for the first time, that some of their success has been driven by the teams around them. In the past, they’ve had huge corporations behind them. Suddenly they are feeling out of their depth. They are feeling stressed, perhaps like never before.

Unfortunately, this experience especially applies to men. As men, the gender stereotype is that we’re supposed to provide for our families and loved ones. (I call this ‘male breadwinner syndrome!)

I’ve seen franchisees not even sharing these challenges with their partners. They come to a meeting with the franchise support team, but deep down they’re embarrassed. They’re embarrassed that they’ve had this hugely successful career, but for the first time they are out of their depth. They’re hearing the words, but it isn’t connecting. In fact, it’s making them feel worse!

When we are faced as humans with “negative emotional attractors”, we close down. We stop listening. We become insular. We become overwhelmed.

“Soft Skills” = “Human Skills”

Imagine you’re in a meeting with a franchisee who isn’t performing and won’t open up. (You have a copy of the franchise agreement on your desk, just in case the conversation goes badly!)

These conversations are regarded by many as “soft skills”. I’ve come to believe these are actually human skills. Broadly t’s about taking time to understand the other person.

If you are a franchisor and you have a franchise support team, you need to train your team to understand these human skills as well. Without this, even if you are delivering some level of coaching to franchisees, you can inadvertently create a negative emotional attractor. The endpoint of every negative emotional attractor is you banging your head on the desk, asking: “Why are they not listening to me?

At the same time, the franchisee thinks, “Why are you trying to manage my performance here? Why are you telling me that I’m not good enough? Why are you telling me I need to work harder?

Your franchisees didn’t leave corporate life to be told what to do, which is why you see reasonable people behaving unreasonably.  In one instance, I remember a franchisee telling me it was his right to fail!

If you’re locking horns with franchisees all the time, reaching for the franchise agreement at every opportunity, then you only have the stick. In the world of franchising (and perhaps in business in general), the stick doesn’t work nearly as well as the carrot…

Flipping The Arrangement

Franchising is all about relationships. If you want consistent relationships, you need to understand the importance of psychology and human behavior.

You must manage franchisee performance, to a degree. But the nuance is that the franchisee needs to be asking you as the franchisor to hold them accountable to achieve their hopes and dreams.

When I look at what’s happening in that franchisor / franchisee relationship, the opposite occurs, and this is what closes franchisees down. This isn’t a conscious choice: it physically happens in our brains. So your first job as the franchisor is to protect the relationship.

The franchisee is going to have to adapt to some degree to the processes of the franchisor. Each franchisee will come to the arrangement with a different mindset. This variability in mindset means you need a different support process for each franchisee.

No franchise business is plain sailing: you will always end up with troublesome franchisees. Even in the most compassionate, most supportive environment, some franchisees will always underperform.

In my experience, there are only two options:

  1. Facilitating an amicable exit
  2. Facilitating a change through coaching

Both of these options require compassion and a willingness for hard conversations, which I’ll cover in my next article.

The Franchology® purpose statement is ‘transforming franchising together’. I honestly believe that Franchisors who are driven by purpose, have an amazing opportunity to make Franchising the number one growth strategy globally!

If you feel inspired to be part of that exciting journey, I would love to hear from you, so please get in touch here to arrange a no-obligation coffee and a chat.

Related Posts