The franchisor-franchisee relationship: a marriage?

De relatie tussen franchisegever en franchisenemer: een huwelijk

We sometimes hear it said that franchising is a bit like marriage, in that both parties – franchisor and franchisee – are mutually committed to making their association a success. The franchise contract is more than a commercial agreement, it’s a partnership in which the principals involved are on equal footing.

However, each franchisor has his own way of running his franchise network. Some have a pyramidal organization, while others stand out for their desire to streamline their operations. This is the case, for example, with Pérénia. Specializing in outdoor landscaping for individuals, this network was created in 2016. From the outset, the company’s founder and managing director, Mickaël Desmeure, has made a point of developing an equal relationship with his franchisees, where everyone is invited to have their say on how the network operates.

This desire to build a genuine partnership with network members is evident at every level, from sales and marketing to recruitment and know-how development. Portrait of a franchisor who has made consideration, listening and benevolence the pillars of his relationship with his franchisees.

Before setting up his own business, Mickaël Desmeure worked as a franchisee for several networks. These experiences have enabled him to observe that most franchises operate in a more or less pyramidal fashion, with information flowing down from the franchisor to the franchisees.

When he founded Pérénia, Mickaël Desmeure didn’t want to reproduce this type of collaboration. He has built a network in his own image, true to his personality and extremely collaborative. “With franchisees, I’ve always had a team spirit. That’s just the way I am. I enjoy treating my colleagues as equals, having a horizontal management style, relying on their expertise to develop myself, and I reproduce this pattern with franchisees. So I’m always asking them if they have anything to share,” says Mickaël Desmeure.

The head of Pérénia is particularly committed to the development of his network. Every month, he spends an entire day visiting each of his sales outlets. It’s an opportunity for him to see what’s really going on in the field, and to talk to his partners about their problems, successes and best practices. By questioning the field in this way, Mickaël Desmeure is able to identify areas for improvement that become part of the brand’s know-how.

The entrepreneur recounts an anecdote in which the experience of one franchisee led to a cost-effective solution for the entire network. “We needed ramps to lift wheelbarrows into a truck. We were looking for custom-made ramps, which would have been very expensive,” says Mickaël Desmeure. Finally, one of our franchisees told us that Brico Dépôt had scaffolding ramps that could be wedged into the ribs of trucks, allowing wheelbarrows to be mounted in complete safety. This is something that has been applied by the whole network.”

It’s easy to see why Pérénia welcomes franchisees’ good ideas, which are often incorporated into the company’s know-how. To achieve this, every suggestion from the field, if relevant, is tested by the network head. If the experiment proves conclusive, the best practice is then passed on in initial training, giving added substance to the operating manual, which guarantees the brand’s know-how.

But what if some franchisees didn’t play the game, and kept their good ideas to themselves? It’s happened before,” says Mickaël Desmeure. But for me, the one who doesn’t give is the one who, from his point of view, doesn’t receive enough. So he’s the one who needs to be given even more. So we’re going to redouble our attention, our support and our help.”

For Pérénia’s CEO, the franchisor-franchisee relationship is a two-way street. He’s very proud of the fact that when we give to others, they’re more likely to give back to us. Here’s an anecdote from the recruitment process. He couldn’t travel all the way to Lille for a day of immersion. Mickaël Desmeure took advantage of a visit to his franchisee in the south of France to meet him. He then asked this same franchisee if he could do him a favor and welcome the candidate on a Saturday morning to show him around his business. A request he immediately accepted, with great pleasure.

“I don’t mind asking for a favour as a franchisor, and I think he was just as happy to give back whatever we gave him. I think that’s what you get when you treat someone as an equal. It allows us to have consideration for each other,” assures Mickaël Desmeure.

This last anecdote shows that the manager’s mindset, which aims to exchange ideas with each of his partners on an equal footing, extends to the recruitment of new franchisees. In fact, during the selection process, the network head calls on its teams, through a strategic committee.

The committee is made up of the trainer, the technical manager, the pilot branch manager and Mickaël Desmeure himself. The people on the ground, who know the inner workings of the business better than anyone else, are therefore consulted, and everyone’s opinion counts. “Who better than my team, with whom I’ve been working for years, to tell me if the candidate we meet shares our values?” asks Mickaël Desmeure.

Indeed, to guarantee this state of mind and horizontal communication, the network head wants to ensure that each of its franchisees shares its values. Pérénia is looking for people who know how to show kindness and consideration to their colleagues as well as to their customers. “We like candidates with business acumen, but that’s not everything!” confirms Mickaël Desmeure.

And to conclude: “. It’s a commitment. We have to like each other, have the same sense of work. We can be different, but there’s always a common core, which is the meaning we give to things.”

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