Published in Franchise Buyer Magazine, June 2016
and Franchise Asia, Vol 32, November 2016
Some of the areas I will use in my comparison are:
I am a gluten for punishment my wife says, and I happen to sail at 2 Clubs. Whilst we see it as very serious, I was privy to attending the last America’s Cup in San Francisco in 2013, and that was the level approaching perfection – one that every Franchisor dreams of. These boats were approaching 100 km/hr up on foils and were being sailed by the best professional sailors in the world.
Having a Race Plan or Business Plan
The day before a race, our skipper decides on how many people he wants to take as crew depending on the forecast wind. Often we sail with 7, or down to 5 on a light day. I would compare this to looking at the economic climate, and having a feel of what may be coming in the near future. All franchises should be doing this possibly in the form of a SWAT analysis on a regular basis.
Before we start a race on the Couta boat we normally have a small meeting where we discuss the weather, who will do which jobs, and who is to support them. Some jobs take 2 people in a specific order and all this is agreed upon. Probably the equivalent would be a Team Meeting, (Franchisor or Franchisee level), where the jobs are allocated, and everyone hopefully can see the big picture, and knows the jobs they need to do.
Having Good Equipment
Whether in business or sailing, you need good equipment. If a Franchise system is skimping on fitout, equipment required to service the customer, and just looks tired, the performance will probably mirror that image. In my days at Caltex, it was essential that every so often a new image was bought in to keep the service stations competitive, or they just lost their shine and performance followed.
In sailing this is reflected in having a good boat that will be consistent and reliable. The America’s Cup boats were the most consistent I have ever seen, relying on technical innovations (which happened to Team USA half way through the Regatta), to achieve superiority over their competition. In the Couta boats this comes down to good design, regular maintenance and even getting the bottom cleaned every couple of weeks by a diver (not me)!
Good leadership (the Skipper)
A good boat needs a good Skipper to win. The Skipper must have a great understanding of his vessel, and be able to understand / participate in the decisions that have to go on around him. This does not mean he has to do everything, it means he has to be able to delegate, and make sure all the rest of the crew do their jobs, and give him feedback as required.
Need to build a consistent team (regulars)
How often do we go into a business and over a quiet time, or on a weekend are dismayed by the staff who are on hand? Whether it be poor service in a coffee shop, staff taking phone calls or chatting amongst themselves while the customer stands looking at them, it all reflects poorly on the business.
In sailing, it is not always easy to get a regular crew (especially when it can need 7 on a Couta boat), so it is always the Skipper’s problem to be recruiting and training so they have a good size pool to draw on. Our recent success on Zephyr this year was probably a regular crew of 5 people who all knew what was required, and then some others to add ballast and weight to the boat.
Be able to celebrate the successes
In a Franchise system, whether as the Franchisor or the Franchisee, it is good to be successful. This may be in just making a tidy profit, or it may be in recognition from others such as the FCA Awards, or it may be internal awards within the Franchise System. By passing on acknowledgement of a job well done, everyone feels better and is more willing to perform at that little bit extra that often makes a big difference. In sailing it is similar, and in most cases it is a team event. Even if you are a solo sailor, you still probably rely on parents, a partner, or a mate to assist you in your sailing endeavours. In a team like the Couta boats there has been around 20 different people who were on board at different times in the 20 race season.
Franchising and sailing have a lot in common as both rely on consistent performance to achieve the highest level of success. Maybe the FCA needs to start a training program for Franchisors, Franchisees and their staff on small boats at the various yacht clubs around Australia to build up the resilience! Good luck with your new business.
Peter Buckingham is the Managing Director of Spectrum Analysis Australia. He is a certified Management Consultant, and a Fellow of the FCA and IMC.