Top 10 American Franchises

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7 Steps to Maximize Employee Engagement


Why are some franchisees successful and others aren’t? They all have the same operations manual and business model. One determination of success is how franchisees engage with their team. It is costly to lose great employees and keeps your franchise from growing faster. Many articles address “the great resignation” and how companies must adapt to the “new normal” to retain their teams. The pandemic has caused a short-term shock wave in many aspects of everyone’s lives. This article discusses how to engage with your franchise’s employees, so the great ones don’t want to leave for greener pastures; no matter the subsequent business trauma, you have systems in place. If you master all 7 Essentials, your franchise will keep your top talent no matter what issues arise.


Consistent training and professional development are required.

A Successful Franchisee seeks to move forward and learn something new every day. Learn one new thing each day, and in a year, WOW, you’ve grown. Create systems providing professional training for your team, including you. Your franchise value will increase tremendously. I saw this first hand with ImageFIRST and, more pronounced, as the Terrace Park Fire Department Chief. One of the first decisions from the leadership team created systematic in-house Firefighter Level I training (a level above requirements) and promoted outside professional training for all members. As a result, the organizational engagement, confidence, and morale increased markedly. TPFD membership doubled during my time as chief, during a time 85% of volunteer departments’ members declined. We grew when most volunteer departments were begging for firefighters.

Curious teammates help your franchise thrive. They are engaged and seek to know how they can improve. These employees are like diamonds ready to be cut, polished, and shined. They are valuable. Determine what you need to do to foster their loyalty to you and your franchise.


A Successful Franchisee has impressive managers.

It’s true that “good employees leave bad bosses” at every organizational level. You hire, promote, and train the very best managers. They live your company’s mission at work, and, in turn, so does their team. Put a poor manager in charge of a team, and their performance will suffer.

Have systems for anonymous employee feedback, survey your teams regularly, or have an outside advisor do a 360 analysis. All of these help in 3 ways:

  1. Demonstrates to your team that you are committed to improving their work-life,
  2. Uncovers issues you didn’t know,
  3. Incremental improvements create trust and loyalty.

Managers communicate with their teams daily. Make sure this communication aligns with your mission and adds to franchise growth. See my blog, “8 Strategies for Powerful Business Communication.”


 Evaluate the turnover risk for your franchise at least every 6 months.

Define your franchise’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) concerning employee turnover. Think of it as strategic planning on how to keep your best employees. Is your total compensation in line, below, or exceeding the industry average? Money isn’t everything for employee retention. If your total compensation is at or below the industry average, it’s a red flag that needs addressing. For example, in Honduras, one low-cost benefit that had a tremendous impact on employee retention was bus vouchers for all employees that made their target numbers for the month.

Your team is the most significant contributor to your success. Figure out what you need to do to keep the best working for you.


Engage new employees from the moment your offer is accepted.

Your high-performing teammates are your franchise’s greatest resource. New employees add value, or you wouldn’t have hired them. They are excited about the new opportunity (your greener pastures). They’re nervous about the unknown. And they’re ready to show the world what they can accomplish. Leverage this emotional momentum. Make your franchise THE BEST place to work from the start:

  • Give them as much paperwork as you can to be completed before their first day,
  • Make sure they have time to wash their new uniform,
  • Have flowers delivered, thanking their partner, when appropriate,
  • Minimize the onboarding obstacles and frustrations. Create an online process for orientation and some basic training. 
  • Detail what documents are required on their first day on-site.       

 Nothing will grind the new-job positivity to a halt faster than your fresh employee stuck in a window-less cubicle filling out paperwork and reading the policy manual with little personal interaction the majority of their first day. Almost as dull as that last sentence is long. The windowless cubicle was a cleared-out janitor’s closet on one of my first days.

Instead, ensure their manager meets them at the door the first day on-site. Have them dig right into learning with a senior employee immediately after touring your facilities. At the end of the day, make sure their manager asks your new teammate what are the top 3 things they learned and 1 suggestion for how their day could be better. A good rule of thumb is that no more than 20% of the first day is paperwork. My franchise required new managers and sales folks to make deliveries with seasoned drivers for the first 2 weeks. As a result, over half of my ImageFIRST team worked with me for 15 years.


Increase employee loyalty. Show appreciation daily for the “little-all-add-up” things. Specially recognize the remarkable.

Sincere appreciation is valued by those you lead. The Successful Franchise Owner seeks out reasons to praise their team. Company newsletters are a great way to showcase employees who give your company discretionary effort. How can peers show appreciation for each other’s great work? The list to let your team know they are valued is endless. The key is that you are seeking out reasons to praise publicly. As much as possible, discuss corrective actions in private.


Be flexible on work schedules when possible.

Not everyone works at the same pace. For example, you may have a herd of high-performers working with you. There are differences in quantity and quality of output among them.

In my engineering days with Red Kap, our main task was setting job standards. We used extensive time and dexterity studies to determine how many pants pockets should be sewn closed in an hour, for example. The standard is the mean on a bell curve, with some teammates completing more or less around the standard with varying quality. Establish easily understood measurements for each job with your franchise. And have systems in place to measure each employee’s output. Of course, the inclination is to give more work to those that can handle it to fill their 40+ hour work week. That’s ok to a point. However, crossing the line leads to burnout and, at times, resentment in truly high-performers unless their pay reflects the higher output.


Ensure the total compensation for each level is above industry averages.

Incentivize each role where possible. With my franchise, the GM was compensated a base salary with incentive bonuses for several measurements he had a majority of control. The customer representatives earned 10% of their total weekly dollars delivered. Not every role is that simple to quantify. Suitable systems allow all work output to be measured.

Create a bonus plan for primary objectives met. Increase or decrease the bonus for ranges. For the ImageFIRST GM, let’s say a quarterly review showed 110% spent of the vehicle maintenance goal. His bullseye was <100%. He earned a partial bonus for that particular KPI.


Pay attention to the most valuable asset to your franchise, your team. Start implementing any of these 7 essentials on a small scale and test what works for your franchise. Over time you will develop a loyal work family.

Luke Frey improves franchise owners’ businesses where corporate support alone fails. He brings 26+ years of varied professional experiences including 20 years as a franchise owner of ImageFIRST Cincinnati, 6 years as an industrial engineer for a Fortune 250 company (3 while living in Honduras, C.A.) and 19 years as a volunteer firefighter. All of these experiences, in addition to his drive to learn, have brought him to be a positive driving force for other franchise owners’ successes. Luke is currently a member of the Center for Executive Coaching and is in the final publishing phase of his first children’s book. To learn more about Luke and how Bella Vista Executive Advisors can help, please click HERE