Every business has a culture, whether it is carefully cultivated or whether it forms of its own volition. While it’s virtually impossible to force a culture onto a business, owners and managers can influence the type of culture that develops within their businesses through their actions and how they communicate to and treat employees.
According to Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst, the No. 1 element that shapes corporate culture is the behaviour of upper management. Whatever kind of culture they want their business to have, they have to espouse that in everything they do.
If owners and management don’t put any effort into shaping the culture of their businesses, they’ll end up with a culture they’ve had no say in developing. If this turns out to be an overwhelmingly negative culture (which can often be the case if there is no direction), it will be difficult to change.
Culture in Franchises
Corporate culture in franchises is a bit more complicated than in independent businesses because there is the added layer of the parent company. Franchisees need to promote strong corporate culture within their own individual businesses while also staying true to the franchisor’s corporate culture.
This is relatively easy to do if both franchisor and franchisee have strong, positive cultures throughout their businesses. Then, it’s just a matter of extending the franchise’s culture into your individual location.
Where it gets tricky is when the culture of the franchise doesn’t match the culture you’re trying to establish in your location. Perhaps things have changed and the corporate culture of the franchise has turned sour or maybe you’ve found that you were mislead about the values of the franchise when you joined. Or, maybe some major mishap has turned public sentiment against the brand and now the entire brand is tainted.
In this case, you’re trying to maintain something positive in your own location while having to deal with overarching negativity in the parent company. Not impossible, but not an enviable position.
How to Establish Good Corporate Culture in a Franchise
As previously mentioned, establishing good corporate culture starts at the top. In franchising, the franchisor will vet potential franchisees to see if they fit into the overall brand culture. They will also offer training to you and your staff to adhere to that overall culture.
For example, if you were running a themed franchise restaurant, your staff may be taught to greet guests and talk to them according to whatever the theme is. If the theme were Hawaiian, they might greet guests with “aloha” instead of “hello.” That would be adhering to the overall culture of the brand.
So, absorb the training you get and pass it along to any new hires you bring aboard, as this is their introduction to the culture of not only your location, but the overall brand. In addition to training, these elements establish culture in a business:
As previously mentioned, you lead by example and set the tone for the culture of your business. How you treat employees and customers will be reflected in how employees treat customers and each other.
Who you hire will play a crucial role in establishing culture. If you favour a specific trait in employees because you believe it will contribute to the culture you’re going for, start looking for people with that trait during the hiring process.
Although a pertinent part of corporate culture, the decor of your establishment will be set when you join a franchise to adhere to the brand identity, so this one’s out of the hands of the franchisee.
Whatever you deem as the most important aspect of corporate culture should be a focus of your employee reviews.
The pay structure, including raises, promotions, bonuses etc. should be aligned with the cultural elements you want to promote. For example, giving out bonuses based on customer review ratings will promote customer service rather than if you gave out bonuses based on seniority.
The franchise may have its own specific rituals you are required to partake in, but aside from those, how you acknowledge work anniversaries, employee birthdays and various corporate successes will contribute to culture.
How much information you share with employees and how you share that information will influence your culture. Will you have weekly meetings or opt for sending out memos when you have an announcement?
Dismissals and Promotions
Who you fire and who you promote speaks volumes to the culture of the business. Will you hire based on merit or on seniority alone? If it turns out one of your star employees is bullying others, will you fire them immediately? These decisions will mould your culture.
The structure of your business hierarchy, how you conduct business meetings, the way all the various departments interact with each other, the amount of paperwork required, these all have impacts on your corporate culture. Often, these are established in franchises and you just need to follow them.
Community Involvement & Team Building Activities
The franchise may also play a part in these, especially if it’s a brand that sponsors a lot of charitable activities. How you interact with your community plays a big role in your corporate culture.
Having a strong corporate culture in a franchise starts with joining the right franchise organization. Perform your due diligence and choose one that aligns with your own values. Dig deep into the history of the franchise to make sure its culture has always been healthy. FranNet can help you find the perfect franchising fit. Sign up for a free FranNet franchise search and consultation today and let us help you on your way to business ownership.