Recruitment trends in franchising

Michael Sheedy, FC Business Solutions

Successful franchisors understand that to grow their business they need to employ the right people to support their franchisees at ground level to help the system succeed.

Franchise-centric positions that have evolved within the industry include field support managers, franchise operations managers and franchise general managers.

The roadmap to a successful career in franchising is not as straightforward as other industries. In general business, managers measure their success by moving onwards and upwards, gathering larger teams and having more people reporting to them.

In franchising, many candidates are happy to criss-cross their career pathways by taking on similar or lesser roles but in different systems. For example a successful field manager from an established system may see moving to a smaller, emerging system and helping that system to grow, as a stimulating career challenge. Or an operations manager in a small, young system may be ideally placed to take on the role of field support manager in a larger, more established system.

We’ve seen a lot of movement over the past four or five months – not necessarily for monetary reasons but purely because the candidates have outgrown the system they are in and rather than becoming complacent in their job, they are seeking new opportunities within the franchise sector.

A recent example is that I recently interviewed a candidate, who was a successful general manager in a fast-food franchise with more than 300 outlets, for the position of general manager in a retail consumer household goods franchise with just 30 outlets. This candidate saw the move as a massive career leap as he had worked in fastfood all his life, and was now looking to embark on an exciting new challenge which will involve resourcing products and working with overseas suppliers etc.

Franchisors are also becoming more open to this. They know that a candidate will have a much higher level of understanding about the position than someone from a non-franchising background. These candidates bring the intelligence from another system’s processes, and this can then be ‘cross-pollinated’ into the next system, which leads to growth, development and best-practice throughout the industry.

Finding the ‘right’ person

It’s an ‘employer’s marketplace’ out there at the moment and I’m finding that clients are saying to me: ‘I want you to find me the right person’ not ‘find me the right person who’s available’. They simply want ‘the best’ – and are prepared to pay for it.

Current salary packages for field support managers are around $90,000 and that is pretty consistent across the board, regardless of the size of the system. With incentives and bonuses, operations managers or franchise managers can earn around $120k, and general managers of franchising could go as high as $200,000 plus in the bigger systems.

I think it’s fair to say that ‘everyone is a candidate’ whether they are working or not. The marketplace is robust and healthy and regardless of the industry, these days, three years in a job is a long time. There’s a lot of chop and change. People have a love affair with ‘what may be’ and many people responding to employment ads are already employed.

Competitive space

This creates healthy competition in the franchise industry for systems to strive to position themselves as employers of choice. To do this they must ensure they continue to provide professional development opportunities, and financial incentives to retain the best staff.

One of the trends I have noticed over the past 12 months, due to co-ordinating and attending various in-house networking groups is people’s willingness to connect within the industry and share and learn from each other. It used to be more of a closed book.

It’s also interesting to note that there seems to be an increase in younger people, including managers and entrepreneurs, attending these events as they are seeing franchising as a viable career pathway. There has also been major growth in educational offerings such as the
Diploma of Management (Franchising) which may assist young people to get a ‘foot in the door’ however I believe that real life experience must complement that education.

Through Linked-In and other internet-based recruitment tools we can immediately touch so many potential candidates. People are making connections through these mediums, and we use these tools to call people up and organise to get them in front of us as quickly as possible for a face to face interview. This is vital.

Our clients know how active we are in the marketplace with networking and that we have an enormous amount of personal connections. We will only recruit people who match the culture of the business and who will make a real and positive difference, and you can only do that by developing a relationship with that candidate. This is what franchisors are focussing on when they ask us to canvas for the ‘right’ person. Without question, the economic uncertainty has played a significant role in franchisors’ confidence to employ new people.

As a business, we have also had to adapt to economic uncertainty, and have accordingly developed a non-percentage based payment structure for providing executive recruitment services.

With our strong focus on relationships and results, we are able to field and place candidates within the quoted time-frame which generally results in a fee of 30-40 per cent less than traditional percentage-based fees.

This is proving an attractive incentive for franchisors that are keen to employ the right people to ensure they continue to provide the best support possible to their franchisees.

Changing focus

Demand in the marketplace continues to grow for experienced field support managers (FSMs). The key difference in the past six months in terms of FSM recruitment has been that franchisors are seeking FSMs with a local area marketing focus as well as a strong financial acumen. Basically franchisors are looking for FSMs who can take a holistic approach when working on franchisee’s business plans.

Administration support has been another strong growth area in franchise recruitment. As well as the processing work that is required in an administration role, franchisors are seeking people who are prepared to take on leadership responsibilities within the business in their dealings with customers, franchisee relationships and suppliers.

Another shift has been in network development roles.

Franchise network development is an area that over the previous 12 months was quieter, but the past six months has seen a real spike in internal franchise development specialists. With new territories to uncover and existing businesses looking to change over to franchise systems, these roles have been super exciting to recruit for.

Systems are recruiting there is no doubt. With budgets being finalised and resources being thin in some departments the need to recruit is still buoyant. Expectation on candidates to come in and make an impact is most certainly evident.

The word is that those franchisors that are proactive in the space of support and network developments are reaping the rewards.

Michael Sheedy is an experienced and dedicated recruitment specialist who firmly believes that the role of each individual employee is vital in the development of a successful business.

Michael applies his knowledge and skills gained from key managerial roles in the sports marketing, wholesale, and manufacturing industries to help other businesses achieve their goals by placing the right people in the right jobs.

Michael, a keen cricketer and footballer, and former captain of the Richmond Cricket Club, is currently combining his recruitment management duties with studies for VU’s Bachelor of Marketing (International Trade & Marketing).

Contact Michael on
Phone: 0423 057 566 or 03 9533 0028