Staffing a Franchise
by Ken Gaebler
Staffing a franchise? After buying a franchise, you'll need people with ambition and talent to grow the business with you. Consider the essential qualities you'll need in your team before you start hiring people to work at your franchise.
Although it's possible to start a franchise that doesn't require employees, employee-free franchise opportunities are rare.
Chances are you're going to have to deal with the problem of staffing your franchise and keeping it
staffed if your franchise is going to succeed.
Many of the staffing issues you will face in your new franchise are the same issues you would face in any small business. However, franchises do offer some unique benefits and challenges that you need to be prepared to address.
One of the first staffing issues you'll need to address is hiring. Finding good employees for any business can be difficult. But finding employees capable of meeting the demands of working in a franchise can present special challenges. These challenges sometimes require employers to look beyond the typical sources, especially if the franchise has highly specialized staffing needs.
One place to look for franchise employees is employees who have previous experience in another franchise within the same company or in a franchise of a competitor. On the plus side, these employees are already familiar with the sometimes rigid policies required by the franchisor. They are also familiar with how the franchise operates and are presumably capable of working effectively as part of the franchise team.
On the downside, however, employees of other franchises have a reason for leaving their previous position. Since franchises are very similar to one another, their reasons for leaving their last job will likely continue to be a problem in their position with your franchise.
Franchises sometimes offer outlets for training that aren't available in a typical small business. In an effort to ensure uniformity across the franchise, franchisors tend to be more willing to provide their franchisees with training programs that equip their employees to do their jobs effectively and in compliance with franchise standards. Your franchisor may also be able to supply you with employee leads and recruiting assistance. Before you buy a franchise, it's worth your time to ask about the services the franchisor provides for employees and then use those services after you open for business.
Handling Employee Turnover
Employee turnover can be a big problem in many franchises, particularly those that employ a significant number of low-income positions, e.g. fast food or retail franchises. High turnover can seriously disrupt operations in these businesses because the employees that leave are usually the ones who have the most amount of contact with customers. Using a high number of untrained employees in customer service positions creates a very negative impression about the business among its clientele.
To mitigate the impact of turnover in your franchise, it's important to construct a staff that is not overly reliant on any single employee. In high turnover businesses, it's better to employ more employees for fewer hours than vice versa. Although this may partially contribute to turnover, it also makes it easier to find staff to cover vacancies when they occur.
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Ken Gaebler is president of Gaebler Ventures, a private equity firm and small business incubator based in Chicago. Visit
www.gaebler.com for more information.