September 20, 2018

A Good Franchisee Can't Act Like a Seagull Manager

Seagull bosses behave much like the actual birds: They swoop in, annoy the flock, get in the way, and then leave without resolving anything.  


This headline caught my eye: “Seagull managers: They swoop, poop, and leave a mess behind."


Swooping and pooping. That can’t be good.


I got to thinking about seagull managers--and their relevance to franchise operations like Great Clips salons--after reading a LinkedIn blog post, A Bad Boss Can Destroy Everything. Columnist Mike Kaeding, president of a Minnesota real estate management firm, offers more clues to identifying these dirty-bird bosses. 


“Seagull managers drop in only when there is a problem,” Kaeding writes. “[They] fly in, make a lot of noise, poop on everyone, then fly out. They blame everyone else and criticize others. They contribute very little to the actual solution to the problem….”


This idea of being a drop-in boss reminded me of a common question I get asked by prospective franchisees about the time commitment of owning a salon. I understand why they’re curious: One of the biggest selling points of being a Great Clips franchisee is it’s a manager-run business. 


No, you can’t just sign the checks.

Great Clips franchisees don’t have to know how to cut hair, and once a salon is established, they don’t have to be on site every day. But, that doesn’t mean the franchisee can be an absentee owner, or worse, a seagull supervisor. While a manager runs the day-to-day operations of a salon, the franchisee drives the organization, and that requires a degree of commitment, beyond just signing the checks.



So my response to their query is straightforward: “If you’re looking for an investment where you won’t have to put in much time or effort, where you’ll only have to check in on the business occasionally or when there’s a crisis, this isn’t for you. The more involved and engaged you are with your salons and the people working in them, the more successful you’ll be.” (In other words, no swooping and pooping.)


The most successful Great Clips franchisees recognize, reward, and celebrate the excellence of their employees. They understand that engaged and satisfied managers and stylists stick around and contribute to business results. And, they know the important role they play is from the sidelines, developing a game plan, and then observing, tracking, and coaching the players. Here’s how a few Great Clips franchisees walk the walk of being that kind of leader:


Support the managers

Franchisee Steve Svensson owns nine salons in Minnesota and Wisconsin. He believes his role is to support his managers in creating a company culture of winning: “We recognize that everyone in the salon can be a leader. A person’s title is not as important as their contributions to the salon. When you develop people, you develop your business. It’s that simple.”


Create opportunities for employees

Franchisees Barb and Leo Wisniewki own six salons in the Chicago market. They offer an extensive development program for stylists: “We want to be the best employer, and we want our employees to be better off for having known us so they can build careers, not just have a job.”


Recognize and appreciate

Franchisees Melissa and Michael Clancy own 10 salons in Philadelphia and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. They have a number of reward and recognition programs for their employees: “We are always saying we want our stylists to be happy. They are, after all, the face of the business. People want to know they are appreciated.”


Clearly, no seagulls in this group. 


Have you ever worked for a seagull boss? Stay tuned for my next post. I’ll give you some questions to determine if there are seagulls in your “flock” and some ways to keep the poop at bay.


What would be your ideal situation as a franchisee? Have you thought about what it would take for you to build a successful franchise business? Give me a call. I’d love to help you answer those questions.


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