With more than 4,000 franchise concepts on the market today, the struggle to recruit qualified entrepreneurial candidates and close new deals on awarded units and territories is more competitive than ever before. For franchise sales organizations, whose job is to accomplish these goals, the necessity to differentiate themselves from their direct competitors has led to innovative new approaches, strategies, and initiatives. In effect, they themselves are working overtime on branding their own organizations with the same fervor as the franchisors they represent. And perhaps nothing has had a bigger effect in helping them succeed than building a unique corporate culture that resonates – not just internally with their workforce, but also externally with their clientele.
As the co-founder and CEO of Franchise FastLane, the leading franchise sales organization in the U.S., I’d like to share some insight and knowledge that I’ve learned on what it takes to build, nurture, and maintain a unique corporate culture – as well as how to use it for your own benefit in driving success. These include my thoughts on team building, encouragement, innovation, and one of my most favorite initiatives – inspiring greatness in others.
A Clear and Compelling Vision Statement
Organizations that cannot coalesce around a competent leader are often described as “rudderless,” meandering without direction or purpose. Sadly, no sales-oriented organization operating in this manner will ever become agile enough to overcome the executive leadership gap. First and foremost, you have to develop a clearly defined vision – which just so happens to be my favorite word in the entire Webster’s Dictionary. What a clear and compelling vision offers your workforce is an intricate picture of a preferable future. If this sounds familiar, it also clearly applies to any of the thousands of franchise opportunities in the marketplace today who hope to achieve success.
Building Your Salespeople
Accelerated by the events surrounding the pandemic, the relationship between employer and employee continues to undergo rapid transformation. Aspects that seemed unthinkable just a few years ago, such as remote work, hybrid engagements, and a newfound focus on corporate culture, are now the norm. At Franchise FastLane, we refer to our employees as “Fastlaners,” intentional and influential self-starters who demonstrate a sense of urgency and can prioritize tasks without continual input from management. In building our team, we zero in on certain qualities for our recruiting efforts. We look for employees who encapsulate our five core values. This includes those who are gritty and hungry for success, who can drive fast results with no unsuspecting surprises, who have each other’s back, and demonstrate the ability to support and inspire change in others. To manage this level of talent, real leaders must have control, a commanding voice, demonstrate influence, and communicate the perspective of what’s possible. If you can do that, the impact is often immeasurable. It’s about being on top of your game 24/7, which is important to Franchise FastLane because our team is always on the lookout for the next big thing in a franchise – one that’s a perfect fit for our current portfolio of brands. As we like to say, a seasoned franchise sales executive should always be the guide, but the prospect is always the hero.
The Difference Between Good and Great
Any competent executive leader can be good. But only a select few are cut out to be great. Yes, leadership is about leading others, but you also have to be capable of leading yourself. And that takes intentionality, trust, consistency, and a true commitment to being a transformational leader. But perhaps the best attribute to master is your own vulnerability – the potential to make others understand that you’re leading from within, not from above. Ultimately, leadership is about serving the needs of others. It should also be a given that not every employee responds the same way in a well-structured corporate culture. In reality, it’s not a collective workforce, but a team of individuals, each with their own set of strengths, capabilities, and ability to contribute to the success of your organization. So long as you ensure that each employee feels seen, heard, and valued, great leaders can bring out these personal contributions on an individual level.
My final thought has to do with a deeply personal issue to me – the ability to inspire greatness in others. This quality takes intentional effort to lead by example, the ability to communicate on a personal level, setting a high standard, a little bit of bravado, and the talent to sell the ultimate purpose of your mission. Collectively, all of these traits have to come from an authentic, personal, and internal place. Henry Ford is the author of my all-time favorite quote, which carries a lot of weight when it comes to building, nurturing, and maintaining a unique corporate culture in a highly competitive world – “Whether you believe you can, or you can’t, you’re always right.”
Carey Gille is the co-founder and CEO of Franchise FastLane, the No. 1 franchise sales organization in the U.S., which now includes more than 25 brands and has awarded over 6,000 territories nationwide. A serial entrepreneur who founded four unique startups throughout her career, Gille possesses extensive knowledge and insight into the world of franchising and entrepreneurial pursuits. Under Gille’s leadership, Franchise FastLane has been named to the prestigious Inc. 5000 list on two occasions in their six-year history. A resident of Omaha, Neb., Carey is happily married with three active boys and enjoys reading, running, and inspiring change in others.