Independent owners who want to join a Neighborly brand must quell their own fears—and their employees’ worries as well.
Entrepreneurship can bring ah-ha moments when you least expect them.
Consider a small-business owner who decides to join a franchise. The decision isn’t taken lightly; many self-employed folks worry about the transition.
Will staffers embrace the idea? It’s a common question that Stephen Schiller fields from folks considering the franchise model. Schiller—one of three vice presidents of franchise development for Rainbow Restoration and Aire Serv—says most owners are surprised by their teams’ reaction.
“The owner often struggles more than the staff,” Schiller says. Workers want more resources and additional help, he says. “Staff is usually more excited than the owner. Then the owner says: ‘Why didn’t I get in touch [with Neighborly] three years ago?’”
Clarity is key
Communication is paramount when Schiller first talks with independent owners. “We convey very clearly to them that franchises are independently owned and operated.” Franchisees still control all daily operations, such as hiring, work hours and culture, Schiller says.
The discussion, he says, focuses on why it makes sense for an entrepreneur to convert to a Neighborly brand: “It typically comes down to goals they want to achieve that they’ve been unable to reach on their own.”
Marketing tends to be a challenge. Many “guesstimate” when they create a marketing plan, and they lack the tools necessary to create brand awareness, Schiller says. It makes sense to “align with a national brand that has processes in place,” he says. “Fear of change doesn’t go away until fear of change is realized.”
According to Schiller, a successful conversion means the owner has to educate staff about daily operations. For example, Neighborly’s policy on uniforms is important, as it affects sales. “We’re selling services to homeowners. Valued customers have expectations, and sometimes uniforms are part of how we attract and retain loyal customers.”
Conversion conversations also include a mutual evaluation process. Schiller says Neighborly encourages candidates to contact two or three owners who are part of Rainbow Restoration or Aire Serv.
“We connect them so they can speak freely and understand what the experience was like.” When potential franchisees “realize their thoughts, concerns and excitement are very normal; because other owners have been there, too, the fears begin to ease,” he says.