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Franchisor Support Services: On The Phone

Franchisor Support Services: On The Phone

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Amanda:Welcome back to Franchising with Purpose, I’m your host, Amanda Lepore.

This week and next week, we’re discussing the support the franchisor provides to you when you’re opening your franchise, and continues to provide as you grow your business. We’re joined by Mike Magid, the COO of Griswold Home Care. This week, we dive into the remote support resources a franchisor will have.

And now, let’s join the conversation.

Good afternoon, good evening, whatever time you’re listening to us today. We are joined again by our esteemed former co-host, Mike Magid, Chief Operating Officer of Griswold Home Care. Starting a new series today, super excited, just kind of wanna fill in where we left off. So up to this point in our journey, we’ve explored different concepts, whether that’s franchising versus a startup and, you know, really what business ownership could potentially look like. Kind of worked through different industries in franchising and how to find what’s the best fit for you. And then again, identifying a company that aligns with your personal mission and purpose and, you know, making sure that you’re going the right direction for you personally, and have kind of moved into the process once you determine the company that’s for you going through their franchise development process.

And we talked about validation, which is a very important step, right? Talking with existing franchisees in that particular system, asking lots of really great questions, staying organized, and have moved into now we have signed our franchise agreement, we have launched our franchise, right? We’ve gone through the launch process, and I know different companies call it different things. For purposes of our podcast here, we’re referring to it as launch, the training support that’s provided initially to get you up and running. You know, a lot of times folks buy a franchise that may or may not be something that they’ve worked in the past, you know, the industry and the company may very much align with our purpose here, but home care as an example, I may love the idea and the concept of home care and it’d be a great business fit for me, but I may not know the first thing about running a home care business. So that training and getting up to speed and learning the ins and the outs of that particular industry as well as that particular company and how they approach things.

And we’re going to pick up now with kind of the ongoing support. So I’ve made this decision, I’ve made the investment to open my business, I go back and I open my doors, and there’s a lot of support that…and we’ve talked to different folks up to this point in the process. And we had the franchise development person that kind of took me through that process. And on a couple of episodes on last month, we talked about the launch support person that really is my go to for that time frame, and I open my doors and now what? Am I on my own? What does that look like? Do I at that point in the process, will I have a dedicated support manager from my franchise or at my franchise or? Mike, welcome. I know, that was a long winded introduction. But we’ve talked about a lot of stuff to get to this point, and there’s a lot involved here. So I think that’s, you know, in the interest of educating our listeners and our audience here, you know, I’ve had somebody to hold my hand up to this point. Does that continue?

Mike: Yes, it does. So first of all, thanks for having me back. You don’t always know whether you’re going to invite me back. I appreciate the fact that you did. Also, I wanna commend you on being an educated consumer, which is our best customer. So when you do what you’ve done in this journey of learning about industries, and business, and whether business is right for you, and whether franchising is right for you, and then doing your journey through the franchising process, to sign a franchise agreement, you have, in essence, become one of the 5% of the people out there that are risk taking enough to want to put their finances and life savings in many cases on the line to buy a business and that’s to be commended. And then of course, you’ve gone through all the prep stuff, as you talked about through the launch and training to get to this point, but now it’s real. Now, you’re opening your doors for business for the very first time in a business, maybe you’ve never been a part of or understood or been in an industry that you haven’t been in. So now you become very reliant, especially early on, on the wonderful support that a franchise company would provide you.

So again, when we talk big picture about the support, when you ask about, you know, we have a dedicated support manager, the answer to that question is yes, and we’ll talk about that in a minute. But you have a lot of dedicated support managers, so it’s not just one person, although one person will kind of lead the journey through your grand opening and beyond, but it’s a lot of support people that are dedicated to your success. So when you look at franchising in terms of the various departments, that you’ll have your department dedicated support manager, you’ve got operations/sales that falls in one category. You’ve got your training, as well as your learning and development department that falls into another category, your IT department, marketing department, finance department, legal department, compliance department, HR, each of those areas of a franchise business model have experts in that business line that become your dedicated support people.

Amanda: These are all the people that we talked about in the launch process, that you’ve got a chance to me and interact with before you decide whether or not this is gonna be a fit for you.

Mike: Discovery day process.

Amanda: Discovery day. You’re right. Before we sign.

Mike: Before you sign.

Amanda: I’m getting my steps mixed up.

Mike: That’s okay. And that’s why you go through that journey with a franchise company. But yes, all the people that you would have met before you signed a franchise agreement and paid, become your dedicated support people. And it’s not just one person. It’s a team of people in each of these departments that you can rely on. However, there is a very individual journey that you’re gonna go on now, which is I’ve got to open up my doors for business, I’ve got my staff hired and ready to go. And now, you know, it really becomes real for me because I’m opening my doors and I’ve got to get my first dollar, my first revenue dollar generated, so I can start to make profitability because, of course, you’ve done it the right way, you’ve got enough money in the bank to be able to make it through the ramp up period. So you’re comfortable in that regard that you’ve got the money to be able to meet payroll early on and meet your expenses early on. That’s really good and responsible franchise companies will make sure you have enough money in the bank to be able to do that.

But now, it’s about growing your business. And so you will have, and I’ll speak for generically here about most systems, will have three, I’ll call it hand-holding components that you would rely on once your doors are open. One is the grand opening support person, we just call that an individual that is skilled in getting the business up and running, and making sure you get acclimated, making sure that your team gets acclimated, and making sure that you’re doing all the growth strategies or executing those growth strategies that you have learned about, and now have to put into action. So you have some kind of grand opening support and then from there, it’ll be a combination of support from the same department. So operations really becomes, I’m not gonna say the guiding individual, you asked about a dedicated support person, it’s really a guiding department. Operations really takes up once your doors are open from grand opening to additional field visits or follow up field visits during your tenure, including any phone support that you have. They’re the conduit for you to either go to directly and then they would facilitate getting you over to the departments that you need based on what your questions are or what your concerns may be. Or you have the ability to go directly to those departments. Legal, HR, compliance, finance, IT, learning development, marketing, etc., training.

Amanda: So question for you there in your almost, I don’t wanna overestimate this, almost 30 years of franchising.

Mike: Twenty eight.

Amanda: Twenty eight. Well, it’s closer to 30 then.

Mike: It is closer to 30. Feels like 40.

Amanda: So you mentioned in that, you know, that there’s phone support provided, grand opening, you know, should I expect that person to be with me on site or is this kind of a remote relationship at this point? Because the franchise home base may be in Pennsylvania and I’m opening a franchise in, you know, New Mexico. What does that typically look like?

Mike: Yeah, every good company, put aside the grand opening because most companies have some type of grand opening support, maybe not the newer companies or the other companies that don’t necessarily have the resources. Most companies have some type of grand opening support, that will have a field based component to that. It may not be the very day you open up. It could be a week later, two weeks later, it maybe the very day you open up. It just depends on where that support is and when your projected open date is to be able to work the timing out so that they’re there day one. But if not, it’s generally in the first week or two that somebody should be out there in most franchises to be able to do some hand-holding, get you acclimated and comfortable. But beyond that, franchise operations departments have typically two types of support, they have the phone support or teller support, and they have the field support. And we can talk more about that as we go.

Amanda: Yeah, absolutely. And the other thing I wanted to touch on, you mentioned a laundry list of different departments and people to support me in that and I’m just, you know, I’ve just gone through this launch process, and I’ve got the training I need and now I’m trying to implement it. And it seems like a lot of things to keep track of, a lot of moving parts. And you mentioned that I can go through kind of my operations person to get the answers that I need, and they’ll work with the team, or I can go direct to them. Is that something that you see pretty typically in most franchise systems that I kind of have that option? Because I may want that one-on-one interaction, you know, people that I’ve met, I wanna be able to just go right to technology and talk to them, or I also may not be comfortable with that. So is that kind of something that’s similar across the board, or do you find that different companies do it differently?

Mike: Yeah, and it’s fairly similar. I mean, the departments are there, they are for support, you pay royalties. So the royalties you pay on the sales that you generate go towards those various departments in the support personnel in those departments. It’s really early on a matter of comfort. If you’re a person that really likes your operations support person, and you have a great relationship with that person, you may go to them and use him as a conduit to any other department. They become that bridge between them, you, and the other department. But ultimately, they are gonna put you in touch with whoever you need to speak with, whomever you need to speak with in that department. So that’s one way. And again, that depends on how comfortable you are with your ops person. You may be a different type of person that just is, you know, comfortable just working through a system. And so, you know, if you’re needing IT support, you know who the IT department people are, how to contact them, you may not ever ask your operations person about that, you may just go directly to the IT team and ask your questions to them and get the information that you’re looking for. It just depends pretty much on you. It’s not the franchise that will dictate that, it will be you as an individual.

Amanda: And your comfort level and you know, how much you’ve interacted with those people during the ramp up process.

Mike: Eventually, at some point in time as you’re in this system more, you know, whether it’s, you know, you’ve gone to your first national conference with the company and you’ve met all the people that you’ve talked to over the phone for the first time, and you start to build those relationships. You know, as time goes on franchise owners typically go direct to departments that they need, and just cut out the middleman. But in the beginning, you may want the middleman.

Amanda: That’s good to know. So I know there’s a lot of…and we went through the list. A lot of different kinds of support that I can expect from my franchise or whether that’s IT, marketing, compliance, finance, etc. There’s a ton of things and we’re gonna dig more into each of those. That’s actually kind of where we’re going this month is to talk to different folks and get their take on it, you know, the people who are actually providing that support in our franchise system, so looking forward to talking to them. But I wanna dig more in while we have you here specifically, you mentioned there’s, you know, two different primary kinds of support whether that’s fields, or over the phone, or tele support, we’ll call it for this episode. I personally struggle a little bit with the concept of phone support, you know, is that person readily available because it’s a…. I don’t wanna say overwhelming, because if you’ve done things up to this point the right way, you should have a pretty good handle. You know, when I’m getting ready to open my doors, but there’s still the kind of the uncertainty and the unknown. And I wanna know that there’s somebody that I can call and get the answer or, you know, maybe talked off a cliff initially, right? Some of those things that go through a new business owner’s mind. So what does that look like? What type of support is provided remotely versus in the field?

Mike: So most of the support is remote. I mean, if you have an IT question, you’re gonna call the IT department. If you have a marketing question, you’re gonna call the marketing department. So tele support in franchising is extremely common because that’s where most of it happens. You have an IT question, they’re not gonna take an IT person out of the department from the home office, send him down to your, you know, your office or your location and work on your IT problem. They’ll do that supporting over the phone. And companies may not just have their own department, but they may have outsourced IT, as well as outsourced marketing that they work with. So when you have a question, it can be handled internally or it could be outsourced depending on the system and how they operate. But most of the support is over the phone. So the most critical support you need, especially early on, is the ops support or field support and we can get into what that looks like and whatnot. Where do you wanna start?

Amanda: Well, let’s actually take a step back because as we’re talking through this, you know, operations is kind of fuzzy. It encompasses a lot of things, it touches the process at multiple different points. So let’s just define operations. You know, a lot of companies will talk about operations is kind of the business support, you know, helping with your rates, and your profit and loss statements, and all that kind of stuff. Other companies may use it more of a conduit to all the other avenues. You know, when we say operations, what does that mean to you?

Mike: In traditional franchising, operations is the business support. They’re the ones that will work with you on implementing programs. They’re the ones who will help you with your staffing challenges. They’re the ones that will help you with the profit and loss and making sure that you’re controlling expenses and that the right margins are being met, so you can drop down the right amount of dollars to the bottom line. They’re the ones that will make sure that you’re protecting the brand out when you’re introducing your brand to consumers and/or to vendors or partners that you’re protecting the brand properly. They’re not cops, that’s not typically what operations departments are for. Although some franchises do use them for that. It’s not what I think is a healthy relationship between a franchisor and a franchisee to have your operations department act as police to monitor the system. They’re there for business growth, business programs, implementation of those programs, etc. Big picture.

Amanda: Okay, that’s helpful. Yeah. So, you know, now that we’ve defined what we see as operations, and again, that could change from company to company, but just for purposes of our episode today and going forward, really it’s the business support side of things. So we talked about that. Let’s break that down. What’s over the phone? What can I expect somebody to come into my office and do, you know, how much of that’s hands on? How much of it can be provided remotely? Let’s talk about the phone support side of it. So what kind of support on that side is provided remotely? You talked about the different departments and you know, if it’s tech support, obviously the IT guy is not gonna fly out to your office to turn your computer on or fix something like that, but from a business perspective, what’s over the phone?

Mike: Yes, so a lot of what can be done over the phone, because you can speak to somebody every day versus you’re in the field and you’re going there, whenever you schedule those field visits, and they could be months apart depending on the size of the system and the size of the support staff. The telephone becomes a very important conduit to program implementation, to training on those programs, to accessing information where your tele support individual is beneficial to you is in working through those types of things, and it could be profitability on your business, right? So, you know, working through any data that you should be tracking or metrics that you should be tracking, helping you analyze that data, so it informs your behaviors on how and what you need to do to either make changes in your business and be able to grow your business accordingly. So they can set that up for you.

The beautiful thing about tele support is it can be done every day. What the tele support individual at the franchise company has is a program they follow, right? So when you open up your doors, the first thing they wanna make sure, at least in our business, is that you’re getting out and introducing your business to the community. So I can stay in contact with you every day, I could act as the liaison to best practices that you may or may not be thinking about or executing. But I as the support person can keep you focused on. So you wanna grow your business, every company has its own process for doing so. The phone support piece is to make sure you’re executing those best practices for growth. It’s also a great process because it could be a daily process or a weekly process, in terms of things that come up with your staff. Challenges that come up that you’re unprepared for. The person that you’re talking to on the phone is an operations minded person.

So just because they’re not in your location doesn’t mean they can help you figure out staffing challenges, cultural challenges, growth challenges, profitability challenges, just consider them an individual that has the experience that you would have with somebody going into the field, but supporting you over the phone and getting more touch points with you, especially early on when you’re trying to grow your business. That would be for anybody that you talked to on the phone. To your point, you mentioned like, I mentioned as well, they’re not gonna send an IT person to you, but you can sit there and talk to an IT professional say here’s the challenges I have, they can remote in, you know, to your laptop or desktop and say okay, here’s what you got, here’s what we need to do. So you don’t need to have somebody in most cases, when you have marketing questions or compliance questions, you don’t need somebody in your facility or your location to be hands on with you for those types of things. Most of that stuff is solved over the phone. So good franchise companies have good phone support in each of the departments in order to handle all the day-to-day questions that come up, all the day-to-day challenges that come up, all the day-to-day concerns that you face that you just aren’t prepared for yet because you’re still a new owner growing into the role of a more tenured experienced owner.

Amanda: Right. And knowing that that level of support exists, I think, is a level of comfort. Like I’m not gonna leave the training, go open my doors and say, well, they’re not coming out because you mentioned that they may be out there day one and maybe a week or two, and you know, what do I do in the interim there and to know that that phone support is literally a phone call away, is helpful. And you talked about kind of the business support and I just wanna reiterate that because, you know, you’re talking to somebody who…this is the first time likely that you’re doing this, right? And we talk about it in a lot of episodes is having that person in your corner who’s done this before, and we talk about it, especially in home care, right? We’re going into the home or you’re going to Starbucks, and I don’t know what I want, but the person back at the desk has made this drink 100 times. So I don’t have to know how to make it. I know I’m putting my trust in somebody else.

And it’s, again, a level of comfort in knowing that I don’t have to know you talked about growing my business, right? And all the different things to go out in the community and get it out there that I’m opening this business and I need clients and caregivers or whatever your particular industry or company needs. But to have somebody who’s been doing this, and that is their sole focus and they’ve been through these steps before and they know how to direct me and guide me, and that I can call them anytime if it’s every day, or once a week, or whatever the case may be for that. So I wanted to reiterate that because it is so important to have somebody who this is their sole focus, right? So you can focus on your business.

Mike: Yeah, we call them business line experts, right? So if you’re in the marketing department and marketing is your business line, if you’re in that department, you’re a business line expert in marketing. It’s not like you call the marketing department and get somebody who’s never been in marketing that, you know, tries to help you out. The beautiful thing about the way franchises are staffed corporately on the franchisor side is you find business line professionals that have experience in that particular line. And they’re there for support. And I’ll tell you that phone support is extremely crucial, especially early on, because you’re trying to figure your way through all these various challenges and there’s gonna be hiccups, and it’s comforting to know that you’re a phone call away. There’s a more enormous amount of value by the way in the field side, which we’ll get to. So I don’t want to discount that side. But it’s an undervalued support when you think about what you get when you buy a franchise is having access lifelines to each of the business line experts at any time of the day that you need to have them while you’re operating your business. And you don’t have to wait because in most franchises that are at least somewhat mature, not maybe the newer ones, but mature franchises are gonna have multiple people in that business line. So if you can’t reach one, you get to another. And that’s the beauty of the phone support and why it’s so effective in franchising, because you have the ability to get to somebody pretty quickly, when you need them pretty quickly.

Amanda: I’m gonna go way back. We’re gonna take it all the way back to the beginning here because we were talking about, you know, is franchising the way to go for me or is starting something from the ground up the way to go for me, that’s why you choose franchising over that startup, right? I might be a great marketer and, you know, salesperson and be able to go into the community and make connections, but I don’t know how to turn my computer on, right? Everybody’s got their strengths, and you wanna play to those strengths. But also, that’s, again, why you go the franchising route because you’ve got those lifelines. And they come built in with, like you said, and especially in a more mature franchise, multiple people who have, you know, that is their sole focus is my, you know, Google ranking, and they know how to get me to page one and get me where I need to be, you know. Their background is in learning, and development, and training, and they know how to implement these programs and help me do that, you know. So that’s why we do a franchise over a startup.

Mike: Well, it’s also why you’ll see franchising attract people from many different backgrounds and levels of experience, right? So, you know, we’re in the home care business and, you know, you would think, all right, well, I’m sure you have a ton of healthcare professionals who are RNs, you know, that litter your population of franchise owners and it’s just not the case. In fact, they typically don’t make the best owners because they have their way of thinking about the healthcare industry and they have their way of operating within the healthcare industry. And when you get into a franchise concept that has different thought processes and different practices, it’s hard to adjust what you’ve done in a career to a franchise company. So the value of franchising to your point is, it can take somebody from any background, let’s just use, you know, customer service as an example. So I was in a customer service background, so anything forward facing to customers or vendors may be a comfort zone of mine when I buy the franchise, but I may not know anything to any great degree about technology, and about when my laptop’s not working properly, or my phone systems are messed up. I don’t know what to do.

Amanda: Even, you know, the back end of things, right? Margins and pricing and all this stuff goes…I could be great with people, but that’s a whole component of running a business and to run a successful business, you need those things.

Mike: Yeah, there are front-end people and back-end people. And when you look at anybody’s resume, for the most part, and I won’t put a number out there, because it would purely be made up, if I put the percentage out there. But if you do a lot of interviewing, and I’ve done a lot of interviewing over my career, and you look at somebody’s resume, it’s always a resume based in some type of business line. You know, IT field, right? Maybe I’ve had different companies and different jobs, and I’ve promoted up in companies, but I’ve had an IT focus, or I’ve had a sales focus, or I’ve had an ops focus, or a marketing focus. So, you know, when you come into a franchise system, that’s what you bring. You bring those experiences and in those areas of the business model, you’ll be less reliant on any business line experts at the home office because you have that experience. But man, if I’ve never managed a business to…or I’ve never managed the budget, I’ve never set a budget, I’ve never managed that budget, I never really looked at a P&L profit and loss statement. I don’t know how to interpret it. I don’t know what a good P&L looks like in your business model to know how to manage it properly. You don’t have to worry about that. That’s where your business line expert comes in. Now, you can get that on the phone, or you can get that in the field. It’s just easier to get it on the phone when you need something quicker.

Amanda: Right. So great segue. But before we move into the field support, any other thoughts, anything that we should be mindful of or be aware of when it comes to phone support that we didn’t talk about?

Mike: No, I think we’ve covered it. I mean, it’s important and it should be valued. And I think that if I’m a newer franchise owner, I would be using as much of that support as I can. And you don’t have to apologize for doing so because your royalties go to paying that support.

Amanda: Right. And I think that really is the epitome of you’re in business for yourself, but not by yourself.

Mike: Correct.

Amanda: That’s the “not by yourself” part of that equation.

Thanks again for joining us on “Franchising With Purpose.” You can find us on Twitter. I’m @Amanda_GHC. Our guest today is @MikeMagidGHC. And don’t forget to visit Griswold Franchising on social media for lots more information, Griswold Franchise Opportunity on Facebook, @GriswoldFran on Twitter, and Griswold Home Care Franchise on Instagram. Make sure to subscribe wherever you get your favorite podcast, iTunes, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, and check out my personal favorite griswoldhomecare.com/franchising. If you like what you’ve been hearing, make sure to rate and review the show on your favorite app. We really appreciate it. I’ll see you next time.