Careers in Franchising

A breakdown of the traditional roles within a franchise system

Photo of a hand drawing an organizational chart
Pizza Pizza – FULL BANNER – SO2017

“Over one million Canadians, approximately one out of every 14 working Canadians – are directly or indirectly employed by the franchise industry” cites The Canadian Franchise Association (CFA) 2016 Accomplishments Report. The report also states that there are over 78,000 franchise units across Canada. When you stop and think about those numbers, you realize that there are many possible careers in franchising.  Some of the roles would be similar in a non-franchised business, while some of the positions are slightly different. The careers range from being focused at a specific location to corporate head office positions.

If it’s a standard “bricks and mortar” business, there are numerous careers associated with the location itself. If it’s a restaurant, a few positions include cashiers, customer service agents, servers, bartenders, shift supervisors, assistant managers, and managers. In addition, if a franchisee owns more than one location, then there would be the opportunity to serve as the general manager or assistant general manager of multiple locations. For multiple location management, there would also be a need for an accounting person and a maintenance position for maintaining the building, equipment, customer area, and landscaping. The positions at specific locations are very important in the franchise industry, and are noticed by the public. However, there are many careers associated with franchising that might not be so obvious. This article will focus on careers at the corporate head office.

Every franchisor is different in how they set their organization structure. It will depend on the needs of the business, which are influenced by many factors such as the size of the corporation, the number of locations, the number of franchisees, and the type of franchise business. As such, the roles and responsibilities will vary by business, and each position could have a lengthy description encompassing all of its nuances. Therefore, for simplicity, the careers mentioned below are explained in overall general terms. This article does not touch on positions that might be dedicated to the corporate locations of a franchisor.

It is sometimes said that there are three departments that drive revenue growth for a franchisor: Development, Marketing, and Operations. The other departments, such as Design and Construction, Purchasing, Finance, and Legal are sometimes classified as support services – meaning their functions support the growth of the brand. All positions, regardless of department and role, have the common function of assisting franchisees and the franchisor with their profitability, and are helping franchisees realize their dreams of owning and operating a successful small business.

Development Department

Director of Development. Oversees the Franchise Development Managers, Market Planners, and Real Estate. This person ensures the sales process works efficiently to attract and sign qualified franchisees and to secure sites. They might also oversee the Design and Construction Department. This position is responsible for setting the strategic direction of development, and for ensuring the various personnel are executing on the tasks for achieving the development goals.

Franchise Development Manager. This is often the first person a prospective new franchisee meets. Approval to become a franchisee is driven by the Franchise Development Manager. All documents are completed by the franchise candidate; the information is verified; credit and criminal checks are completed; and the market information, business plan, and executive summary are submitted and presented for approval. The Franchise Development Manager also schedules interviews between the franchise candidate and executive team. Once approval is granted, the Franchise Development Manager informs the other departments and monitors to ensure the project stays on track.

Market Planner/Analyst. Identifies the best areas/markets in which to build a location based on the franchisor’s criteria. This person researches and analyzes demographics, traffic patterns, competition, spending patterns, etc. They also work with the Marketing Department to locate areas of a city to target with advertising based on demographics, traffic patterns, etc.

Real Estate Manager. Assists the franchisee in finding a location that meets the requirements of the franchisor, and gets the location and project budget approved. They also work with real estate brokers to ensure the latter is searching for locations, and that the brokers understand the site criteria needed for the location to be successful. This position reviews and filters all sites that are sent to the franchisor. The Real Estate Department can take various formats. In some cases, there is a corporate franchisor staff member who specializes in real estate for the brand. In other cases, the Franchise Development Manager also fulfills the real estate function. Another alternative is that a third party or supplier company which specializes in real estate works with the franchisor and franchisee. Once the site is secured, the Real Estate Manager informs all other departments as to the date of possession, and provides the appropriate documents and any design criteria to the design and construction teams.

Design & Construction Department

If it’s a bricks and mortar franchise, often the Design & Construction Department is part of the Development Department.

Design Manager. This person works with the franchisee to design and lay out their location. The Designer must work with the franchisor’s prototypical colours, layouts, and specifications, and to ensure it’s designed to meet building code requirements, along with the landlord’s criteria for the space. The Designer works with various architects and/or engineers, such as the landlords, the municipalities, and the franchisees. Since every site is different, the Designer must be creative to ensure all the necessary criteria are met, but also to design an attractive location that will stand out and attract customers. Once the design is finished, the project moves to the construction phase.

Construction Manager. Monitors the project from lease execution to opening. This role has a wide range of responsibilities, and varies by company. The Construction Manager might assist the franchisee with hiring an architect/engineer, review of tenders and construction contracts, introduction and monitoring of franchisee interaction with equipment suppliers and ordering, permits, overseeing trades, and ensuring the project stays on schedule and under budget. The Construction Manager must approve that the location is built to required specifications, and is ready to receive the Opening Team. It is also the Construction Manager’s responsibility to follow up on any construction deficiencies, and ensure they are remedied and that all tasks are completed.

Marketing Department

Director of Marketing. Oversees and coaches the Marketing Team. They set the strategic direction of the marketing plan, and ensure the Marketing Managers are executing on the tactics. They work with franchisees and the Franchise Advisory Council (FAC) on the marketing ideas and promotions. This position also negotiates any media purchases such as radio and television, and monitors and approves the creation of all creative works. Some examples include product photography, menu board artwork, branded packaging, point-of-sale items, and website design. The Director also works with the Research Department to implement food/beverage trends or new products. This position is also responsible for monitoring, spending, and reconciling the advertising fees received from franchisees to the monies spent by the franchisor on advertising on behalf of the franchisees.

Marketing Manager (LSM). Focuses on working with franchisees and determines how to drive traffic within the community into the unit. The Marketing Manager also guides the franchisee in creating a Local Store Marketing (LSM) plan for the location, including how it should be executed and how to measure LSM success. For example, if a franchisee is opening a restaurant, they might approach the hotels within their market to have their menus placed in each room, and offer a discount to the hotel manager and staff for referrals. They also work with new franchisees as they get ready to open their new location, and assist the franchisee with organizing events such as a “Friends and Family” event prior to opening. In addition, the Marketing Manager establishes a grand opening plan for the new location, and determines whether it is held on opening day or several weeks after opening. This person also reviews and approves any LSM materials created by the franchisee prior to distribution.

Marketing Manager (Communications). With social media becoming an increasingly important part of business, a person dedicated to corporate communications is key. This position monitors and engages consumers on social media, posting interesting news surrounding the brand, such as new products, corporate events, or franchisee activities. They also train franchisees on how to utilize their Facebook page, Twitter account, etc. for their location. This position could also work with media agencies and public relations to create press releases promoting brand news.

Research Department

Research Manager/Corporate Chef. A Research Manager is often a food scientist or a chef. This person monitors food/beverage trends, and suggests products and creates recipes for the brand. This position reviews ingredient lists, calculates cost of goods (COG) per product, ensures suppliers are creating products to the franchisor’s specifications, and creates training materials for franchisees on food safety and product preparation. Research Managers troubleshoot with the Operations team if products are not turning out at store level as the product preparation procedures dictate.

Purchasing Department

Purchasing Manager. Works with suppliers and distributors to ensure the products are at store level in a timely fashion. This position sources all products, packaging, and equipment for the brand. For instance, the Purchasing Manager receives the upcoming promotional idea for a new beverage flavour to be featured from the Marketing Department. The Purchasing Manager sources the new product, ensures it meets the requirements of the Marketing and Research Departments, and negotiates the contract with the supplier. In addition, they work with the distributor to ensure there is warehouse space available when needed to accommodate the new product, and that the product goes into the distributor’s order guide so the franchisee can order it. They then inform the franchisees how to order the products to make the new drink.

In some cases, the Research and Purchasing Departments are contained within the Marketing Department.

Operations Department

Director of Operations. Oversees all of the operational components from training, to opening team, to Regional Managers. In addition, the Director ensures the operations manuals and training materials are current and that franchisees are compliant with product preparation procedures and food safety. The overall focus is for the franchise locations to be serving quality products in accordance with the franchisor’s specifications, in a clean and welcoming location by well-trained staff.

Training Manager. This position arranges for new franchisee training, and establishes the curriculum and objective metrics for determining success or failure. They ensure that the franchisee successfully completes the required training prior to opening. If the new franchisee is training within an existing franchisee’s business, the Training team ensures that the existing franchisee and key staff have been certified to serve as a training location to ensure consistency across training locations. This position also creates training materials for the franchisee to use to train both new and existing staff on products, food handling, and health and safety.

Opening Team. Arrives and assists the franchisee with the set-up of the location, and the training of the franchisee’s key staff. They also ensure the location meets brand standards, and that the franchisee and their staff can execute on the brand promise to the consumer. In short, they determine if the location and the franchisee are ready for business.

Business Consultant/Operations Consultant/Regional Manager. After the opening team leaves, the main contact for the franchisee is the Regional Manager. This person visits locations and works with franchisees to improve their businesses, working directly with the franchisee in the franchisee’s location. They train franchisees on new products, new food safety procedures, etc. They often execute inspections/quality assurance reports on the location, and review cleanliness, product quality, and customer service with the franchisee.

Finance Department

Controller/Accountant. Establishes the parameters of each category of the P&L statement template the franchisees must complete. In addition, the person in this position analyzes all sales from all locations, and identifies seasonal or sales trends. They also oversee each department’s budget, create an overall corporate budget, and monitor all budgets versus actual numbers. In short, the Controller/Accountant oversees all monies received and spent, and works with external accountants and auditors as necessary for corporate financial statements.

Finance Manager. Works with franchisees and explains how to complete the franchisor-required P&L statements. The Finance Manager will instruct the franchisee as to how to calculate cost of goods sold and labour cost; how to complete the required reports to the franchisor; how and when to submit royalty, marketing, and lease administration fees (if the franchisee is subleasing from the franchisor); and when to submit reports. This position works with the Operations team to identify franchisees who need additional assistance with controlling costs. In addition, they work with the Marketing Department to analyze promotion results.

Legal Department

Paralegal. This position works with an external legal team and each department leader to ensure the franchise disclosure document (FDD) accurately describes the franchisor’s business and is compliant with legal requirements. They also ensure all legal documents are created and executed correctly by the franchisee, franchisor, landlord, and suppliers. This could include training school agreement and waivers, design and construction services agreements, franchise agreements, sub-lease, lease, and resale agreements, and supplier contracts. The Paralegal also ensures accurate record keeping of all legal agreements and of all renewal dates and fees.

Human Resources Department

Human Resources Manager. Works to attract and recruit new employees for the corporation.  This position is responsible for job descriptions, the performance evaluation process, the performance management process, compensation, and office and employee policies.

Information Technology Department

IT Manager. This position ensures the franchisor’s servers, network, phones, computers, and tablets are working efficiently, and that software is current. They set up new employees with new equipment, email, shared drives, cloud access, etc. In addition, they ensure the franchisor can pull information electronically from each franchisee’s location, such as sales.

These are only a few of the careers available in franchising. In a small franchise system, one person could perform several functions from different areas. For example, the Research Manager/Chef could also be the Purchasing Manager, or the Marketing person might fulfill all of the Marketing roles. As a franchisor grows, the number and type of positions also grows. Many companies have multiple levels within departments, such as Coordinators and Clerks to Senior Directors, Vice Presidents, Senior Vice Presidents, and Executive Vice Presidents. The Chief Operating Officer (C.O.O.), President, Chief Financial Officer (C.F.O.), and Chief Executive Officer (C.E.O.) positions are the most senior, and those within these roles manage and oversee the entire business.

As mentioned above, each franchisor creates positions within their company based upon the needs of their business. As companies continue to change, the franchise industry changes, and with that evolution comes new and exciting career opportunities.