I want to be a Franchisee: Step 7—Human Resources: Hiring, Firing and Everything In Between

By Beth Caron

Thinking about becoming a franchisee? Excited about the opportunities out there but overwhelmed with what you need to know? We’re here to help: The Franchise Blog is presenting a series of informational posts about how franchising works.

The reality of owning a business never hits closer than when you hire your first employees. It’s then that you realize that much of your success as a franchisee now rides on having the right people delivering the best service—and that your ability to recruit, hire and manage a team is critical. If you were an independent business owner, you are your human resources department. As a franchisee, you’ve got an entire HR department supporting you.

To find out how franchisees get HR support from their franchisors, we asked Melissa Lutz, Human Resources Manager at Great Clips, to answer a few questions.

What is the role of a franchisor’s HR department in supporting franchisees?

Melissa Lutz: Most franchisors provide some level of HR support to their franchisees, but that can vary for each franchise organization, so it’s really important to investigate how much support you’ll get before you invest. The basis of most franchisor-franchisee relationships around human resources is that the franchisee is an independent business owner. That means the franchisee, not the franchisor, is the employer—he or she makes all the final decisions about recruiting, hiring and firing, compensation and benefits, and performance reviews for everyone who works in his or her operation.

What the franchisor can do is offer advice and resources to the franchisee. At Great Clips, we provide tools and resources to help our franchisees manage the employment side of running a walk-in haircare salon.

How do you help Great Clips franchisees through the “life cycle” of their employees?

ML: That life cycle includes recruiting, interviewing, hiring, performance management, training, and if necessary, terminating an employee.

Let’s start with recruiting. We don’t do any direct recruiting of a stylist or a manager for a franchisee, but we do provide a mechanism for online recruiting, specifically, working with a vendor who develops and supports a recruiting platform. We help franchisees get their salons posted online and offer them additional resources to attract the best people—fliers, posters, recruiting cards, window signs, etc. We provide them with job description templates so they can have a job-listing presence at all times. And we help them connect with their local cosmetology schools to build relationships with students and recruiters.

From there, we support franchisees by providing interview guides that include specific questions for prospective stylists and managers, and the preferred answers you’d like to hear from a top candidate. Once someone is hired, we provide forms and templates that the franchisee can customize for pay plans, performance metrics, salon policies (dress codes, team expectations, etc.), coaching, and termination.

What can you not do for a franchisee?

ML: Regarding human resources, we would not tell a franchisee who to hire, who to promote, or who to fire. We are always available to help them think through the issues, and offer suggestions for what kinds of skills and attitudes to look for when hiring, how to identify someone who is ready to become a manager, and improving performance in employees who aren’t reaching their goals. We can’t make the final decision—that’s the responsibility of the franchisee—but we can certainly use our experience from working with other franchisees to guide them to what’s best for their business.

How does a typical new franchisee use you as a resource?

ML: One of the first things new franchisees do is review our suggested policies and procedures manual. Then, they customize it based on what they want their business to look like—such as what their employees will wear when working in the salon, or how much time off employees get, or how staff or customers can file a complaint. With these manuals, our franchisees have a strong starting point.

Then, they’ll look at the performance documents—templates with recommended compensation plans, bonuses, and performance metrics. Franchisees can customize this for their own salons.

This is really one of the great advantages of a franchise system as opposed to going out on your own. As a franchisee, you’re the boss, but you don’t have to develop everything from scratch. You get to hit the ground running because of all the resources you have available.

What’s the biggest HR challenge for franchisees?

ML: For new franchisees, it’s recruiting and turnover. That’s why we really try to reach out to new franchisees and tell them to use us as a resource because we’ve seen practically every challenge they can imagine! If they’re having trouble recruiting, we can give them tips for attracting and hiring the best people in their area. If they’re having trouble with staff turnover, we can try to identify the core reason people are leaving, and help them turn it around. Often, it’s a simple as asking questions about the basics: Are pay and benefits competitive? Does your manager have the right training? Does the team work well together to deliver great customer service?

The bottom line is that we can help our franchisees figure out a solution to these issues in a way that will help them grow their business—that’s what we’re here for.

What do you like most about your job?

ML: This is all about sharing best practices. Franchisees call us and say, “I can’t believe ‘this’ just happened.” And we say, “Oh, we can!” because we’ve most likely seen other franchisees go through the same thing! So we have that expertise that can really provide a franchisee with a great feeling of support.

Every phone call is a new opportunity to help a franchisee grow a successful business. I love being able to do that.

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