Ralph Martin knows how to listen. In fact, you’ll hear him mention it over and over again in my interview with him on The Franchise Show, where he shows that finding out what’s important to the client (or the franchisee) is the starting point for delivering great customer service. So how does a commitment to listen from the executive at the top of the organization matter to someone who is evaluating various franchise opportunities? Consider this:
- Your marriage to the franchisor doesn’t end with “I do”. As anyone who has been married can attest to (and as thousands of Mars/Venus books can elaborate on), “I do” is only the beginning. In franchising, your marriage to the franchisor starts when you sign the franchise agreement and write your check, and the honeymoon can be short-lived indeed when your money is on the line (No further analogy to marriage needed—you get the point!)
- You and the franchisor are co-dependants. In other words, you need each other. You bought a business system. If that system breaks down because the franchisor’s commitment, innovation, and administration aren’t effectively executed, you lose. Of course, if your commitment, innovation, and administration wane, you lose, too—but that’s another topic for another day. Suffice it to say, you’re dependant on each other.
- You’ve got to talk. Sounds like marriage again, huh? Well, it pretty much is, and few of us do it well, but the prerequisite to talking in a relationship is first listening. Ever tried to talk to the IRS, the DMV, or the USPO (dysfunctional organizations are always known by their acronyms—and computerized voice prompts. . .). You are going to be talking with your franchisor for 20 years—maybe longer. Make sure he’s listening.
Fresh Coat Painters is in one of the most successful franchise categories in the marketplace today, the service industry, and Ralph Martin impresses me as someone who listens. The culture of an organization is set from the top. Berkshire Hathaway reflects Warren Buffet. Trump Enterprises . . . .
So, reading the FDD isn’t enough. Meet the person at the top—it’s what The Franchise Show is all about. Visit with Ralph and see if a fresh coat of paint might not be exactly what your business house needs. If Ralph Martin is talking, we’re going to be listening.
Hear Jeff live on The Franchise Show every Friday at , and 24/7 in the archives. Jeff comes from 25 years in the franchise industry with such high-growth companies as McDonald’s, Blockbuster (where he was also a franchisee), and Payless ShoeSource, and is a graduate of Hamburger U!