There is always a question in business: “How can we be the best at what we do?”
I work for a company that franchises janitorial services. So we create franchise owners that clean toilets and empty your trash. Most people think that this is a skill everyone has. Are we the best? We would like to think so. However, initially when we did the scary thing and posed that question to our customers and franchise owners and we got a lot of “No’s”. Since then, we’ve discovered that being the best starts with changing how we, the franchisor, do business.
Creating business owners. Frankly, if all of our franchise owners were already business owners, they would not need us. This was a hard thing for us to realize at first. When they had problems or needed to be hand-held, it was easy for us to blame the franchisee and say, “Well, this is just because there is something wrong with the franchise owner”. We realize now that their problems have nothing to do with not wanting to be a successful business owner. They simply do not know how. Therefore, we work closely with them to create hard-wired behaviors that allow our franchisees to become successful. We want key behaviors to become automatic so they do them without thinking. We work to instill good habits within our franchise owners which is essential to producing successful business owners and happy customers.
Training according to relevance. Training is an important aspect of every person’s development. Too often though companies throw training at people to either fix them or start them on the right path only to discover that most of that training went in one ear and out the other. This is not entirely the trainee’s fault because usually when the training was provided the time was not right for retention. There is also the aspect of mental contamination of employee-employer that cannot be written off. People only want to learn when they want something not because you want something. All training is important but only if they want to learn. Ask them what they want. Often they will not know and this is where true development occurs.
Franchise freedom. In the past we wanted to control each franchisee. This created an environment that was based on lies and hiding. Let me explain. We would get a complaint from a customer, for example, that the trash was not emptied at somebody’s facility, and we would call the franchisee to let them know. Our franchisee was usually afraid of hearing from us because they knew this meant they had not met expectations and there would be some kind of negative consequence. So, to avoid being called out, they might preemptively go to the customer and tell them not to contact us in case of a problem. This created a level of distrust between us and our franchise owners and their customers. Since then we have changed and created a culture that makes it okay for franchisee to make mistakes. We want them to feel safe to tell us what they don’t know. We want to know what they are afraid of. We’ve worked to create a company that is free from judgment and this creates franchisees that want to be with OctoClean and want to tell us what they’re going through. Our customers are happier too because we can quickly identify and address problems and they no longer have to be mixed up in that tension between OctoClean and their franchisee. Having the ability to openly address problems is essential to delivering good service and fostering a good work environment.
Instilling good habits, training real needs and openly addressing mistakes creates a company that is truly able to deliver the best possible service. Are we the best? That’s not a question that I can answer. Our customers and franchisees can tell you if you want to ask them. However, now, unlike the past, I get many customers and franchise owners that tell me that “yes” we are. Our goal is to constantly evolve and learn so that we can always secure that “Yes”.