Discovery Day presents a make-or-break moment for many would-be franchisees. Related: Franchise Discovery Day: A Franchiser’s POV For Megan Yu, a visit to the franchise parent company of Signarama, United Franchise Group, in West Palm Beach, Fla., helped seal her decision. Of course, by this time, she and her partner, Andy Yu, her father, had already spent almost six months researching businesses they might open in Ann Arbor, Mich. Casting a wide net at first, they looked at all options, including purchasing an independent business. They chose a franchise because they liked all the support and training offered as part of the deal. “For me it was the one-on-one interactions with the owners that was huge,” Megan said. Meeting other franchisees who shared their own experiences and offered a ready support network raised Megan’s comfort level with this new business. During a carefully choreographed Discovery Day, Megan was greeted by her “host” at her hotel and taken to company headquarters, where she met with current franchisees, technology, and financial support staff. She toured a “brand new, state-of-the-art training facility,” all of which convinced Megan this was the business for her. Franchise Discovery Day will either reel you in with a display of stellar services and support staff or you’ll discover something about the franchisor that sends you to the exit with a feeling of doubt. For example, you may find the CEO has recently changed and you’re not sure about the transition. Or perhaps, you’ll discover you don’t like the support staff. For Megan and Andy, the advantage of a franchise, with all the systems in place to help them through the start-up phase, eventually won out over other options. Megan, 29, who had been working as a manager of a retail store, gave her month’s notice soon after the Franchise Discovery Day. “It boils down to having a world-recognized name and, of course, corporate support,” said Andy Yu, 56, a retired engineer. “We don’t want to get into all these miscellaneous details that will consume all our time and effort.” So, instead of figuring out how to negotiate the best lease agreement, select office furnishings, stationery, and myriad other necessities of their new operation, Yu said, they could spend their time on activities, like sales and marketing, that have more direct impact on the bottom line. They hope to open their new sign-making business by late September. So, how do you prepare? Said Yu: “Do your homework.” Before you even arrive for Franchise Discovery Day, you should:
A leader inspires and motivates others to do and be better. It’s about being a servant leader who focuses on the growth and well-being of others, regardless of title, bringing out the best in who they are.
Anyone can be a leader if they choose to develop the right skills. I know! I’ve made many mistakes along the way by focusing on the wrong things (i.e. micromanagement, poor communication, lack of flexibility, you get it). Once I realized that leadership requires being able to connect, motivate, inspire, and be present, I began to make a real difference in the companies and people I worked with.
Here are four things I do to earn my leadership every day.
Strong communication skills include being a good listener as well as customizing your communication style to suit each situation and team member. This is an area I’m continuously working on. I have written down the following and keep it visible in my work area so that when I interact with anyone, I am conscious of my communication style:
- Present, Attentive, & In The Moment
- Ensure Active Listening
- Ask Questions (Open-Ended, Clarifying, Probing) That Engage My Audience
- Not Interrupting
- Withhold Judgment
- Share Information That Is Helpful
- Brainstorm With My Team
- Summarize My Understanding
A leader who has strong communication skills will build trust and improve morale across the organization.
I grew up in the “kill or be killed” era of business and I’m glad it’s changed to a focus of connecting with people to form lasting relationships. I’ve learned to be a more empathetic leader who is able to understand the needs of others, their point of view, what they are feeling, and why they act the way they do. That said, I still have more to learn as empathy is an emotional and thinking muscle that becomes stronger with use. What I try to do with my daily interactions is:
- Be Authentic
- Show Genuine Interest In Others
- Help Others Wherever I Can
- Be Self Aware
- Pay Attention To Body Language
- Be Open To Feedback
Empathy is a key element of servant leadership and leaders who are able to show compassion tend to be the most admired and are also able to drive significant business results.
Change is accelerating and at an unprecedented pace. In order to be successful, leaders need to embrace change in this constantly evolving global environment. I for one love change. While it can be somewhat scary at times, it can also bring about many opportunities. I’ve worked hard to embrace change and lean into the unknown by focusing on the following in my work and personal life:
- Being open to seeking and seizing new opportunities
- Have a clear purpose, develop a plan and prioritize new opportunities
- Remove obstacles that inhibit the path of progress to create quick wins
- Seek continuous learning and feedback
- Embrace risk-taking and the possibility of failure
- Take action quickly
Leaders who embrace change tend to be more adaptable, flexible, innovative, strategic, and have engaged employees. Change creates transformation and growth.
Develop Your Team
I was taught how to do my job but not how to be a leader who manages and develops teams. So when I first started managing teams, I struggled with continuing to do things myself vs. learning how to develop and inspire people. Along the way, I’ve made a number of mistakes, but through that, I’ve had some amazing nuggets of success that I work hard to put into practice all the time.
- Set clear goals and expectations
- Focus on serving, teaching, & mentoring
- Allow team members to problem solve
- Invest in people: resources, training, education
- Give direct feedback and ask for feedback
- Celebrate the wins and be quick to praise
- Foster collaboration and open communication
- HAVE FUN!
I’ve found that to earn my leadership every day requires a continuous journey of personal development and grace. Great leaders inspire others, bringing out the best in them while also leading by example. I hope these tips motivate you to earn your leadership. You’ve got this!