You’re The Boss, So Be The Boss

You’re The Boss, So Be The Boss


The best way to run a successful franchise is to lead by example. Don’t sit in the back office, hoping staff will remember their training and see to the customers.

Get out there onto the floor and manage staff, help customers, oversee some deliveries. Or just have a regular wander around the office having a friendly check of what your team is up to. And then make sure your managers approach their leadership roles in the same way.

Keep this in mind when you manage your managers. When we first get into a management position we often suffer from what psychologists call the ‘imposter syndrome’.

We feel like we don’t deserve to be there. Remind your managers that they’re in that position for a reason. You have chosen them from a dozen or so possible candidates to lead your team.

Maybe you’re suffering from imposter syndrome. Then you need to remind yourself that you’ve raised funds to finance your own business, mapped out a vision and taken the plunge in launching it into the market. Of course you deserve to be there! So don’t be embarrassed about it. Lead the team. Live the values of your business.

At the Brazen Head, we always said we can either be spectators or players.

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Spectators sit in the stands and watch the game. Players are down on the field, taking the knocks and making it happen. The team captain should still play the game.

Empower Your Team


In the current South African business environment, there’s a lot of talk about empowerment. The type of empowerment I’m talking about here has nothing do with multi-million rand BEE deals, but rather is about giving staff the confidence, and the authority to serve customers.

This means giving them some real power, beyond asking, “How can I help you?” and processing transactions.

If you’re the owner or manager of a Harvey World Travel franchise and you’ve got some leave owing over the Easter break, you should actually take your leave. Place your assistant manager in charge of the store for a week. Go to Southbroom.

Sure, it’ll be a little nerve-wracking for you and for her. And rest assured, she will make a few small mistakes. But the boost in confidence that she will gain by being empowered will be invaluable. The confidence you have shown in her will grow her own self-confidence. And next time, you’ll know you can trust her to manage your business.

Spread the Love

Management can be a lonely experience if you end up chained to your desk, locked in your corner office, occasionally asking your PA to “Bring me the figures from last year.” It’s easy for this to happen, because you’re under a lot of stress and you have to deliver results.

But the best way to deliver results is through the people in your organisation. Try not to get trapped in your office. Get out into your business. Interact with your colleagues. I’ve heard this called MBWA — Managing By Walking Around!

Related: What the Franchisor Can Do

Many of the people working for you are specialists, highly skilled in their fields. So don’t think you need to go around telling them how to do their job. Rather, ask them for advice on how things could be better.

Ask your team questions like the following:

  • Can you explain to me what you’re doing here?
  • Have you ever thought there’s a better way for us to do it?
  • Do the customers like our methods?
  • How could we make things more customer friendly?
  • What is our customers’ main complaint?
  • What do our customers love?
  • How do you think we could do more business?
  • How do you think you could be more productive?

‘We Don’t Need An Office’

A former colleague and business partner of mine is Sean O’Connor. With him on my team we built much of O’Hagan’s and the Brazen Head pub and restaurant chain.

He has always been a massive believer in managers not being cloistered in the office. Whenever we were building a new store, he would be adamant that we didn’t need an office.

“The manager should be out on the floor until the customers leave,” was his philosophy. I would eventually convince him that we did need some kind of office. But even today, if you visit a Brazen Head or an O’Hagan’s you’ll see that the offices of our store managers are tiny!

Positive Roles For Your Colleagues

We speak elsewhere about positive names for your customers. But it’s equally important to have positive, motivational terms for the people you work with.

I remember once working with a keen, ambitious and highly talented young woman. She was new in the industry and thus a little inexperienced, but management chose to saddle her with a job title that was something like ‘Junior Sales Executive’.

After a few months of good service, she begged us, “Please can you just change my job title? Being called junior is undermining clients’ confidence in me.” We dropped the junior and her performance went from good to exceptional.

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It made me realise the importance of names, and language in general. Why give someone a job title that undermines their own confidence and that of their clients. Likewise, I don’t see any need for hierarchy thinking in management. Don’t refer to the store manager as ‘my manager’. He’s the store manager. And the company staff are your colleagues, team members. No need to call them your subordinates, especially to their faces. This isn’t the French army and we’re not in a court martial.

A famous story from the Rolling Stones rock ‘n’ roll band concerns the time singer Mick Jagger phoned up to drummer Charlie Watts’s hotel room and asked, “Where’s my drummer?”

Charlie promptly walked down to the lobby and punched Mick in the mouth. “I’m not your anything,” was the implication. “I’m the drummer for the Rolling Stones.”