What I’ve Learned: From the Mind of Co-Founder, Philippe Wyffels

PhilippeEver wanted to get inside the head of a franchisor to discover insider secrets of the restaurant franchising business? Here’s your chance! We sat down with Philippe Wyffels, co-founder of Bruges Waffles & Frites restaurant franchising to ask what he has learned about the franchising business. Here’s the inside scoop.

What is the single most important thing you have learned in franchising?

A system like franchising can take two shapes:

  1. This system places the franchisor on top and franchisees at bottom, just like a pyramid. The company that does this abdicates funding of expansion to its operators, meaning franchisees put their own money in and get a return. In this system, franchisees don’t contribute back with ideas–it’s strictly a top down approach.
  2. In this franchise system, the franchisor is only one element of a horizontal network of people who have invested money into a business concept. The franchisor is the organizer of creative flow generated by the network. Franchise owners that are motivated and energized have higher desires to participate in this shape of system.

What is the advantage of a horizontal franchise structure over a pyramidal?

This system keeps a franchisor on your toes. A more proactive approach to franchising, horizontal systems create stronger, more robust organizations.

What is the advantage to franchisees to be a part of this system?

Being part of a proactive system that is bigger than you is rewarding. If you’re a non-thinking entity all of your career as a franchise owner, you will eventually drop off. However, if you know you can make a difference, and have a voice that will be heard, you will thrive and be more motivated to succeed.

One of the most motivating activities is to continually learn new things. This drives people. The moment you stop learning, things go downhill. If you continue learning constantly, you are more motivated to succeed. Good sound franchise systems allow franchisees to do this.

How do you measure success?a-fresh-brand

Success is measured by three things:

  1. Happiness and continued motivation of franchisees. It is possible for a franchisee to be unhappy even while making money. That is why measuring the trends of feelings toward the brand is an essential responsibility of the franchisor. The goal would be to put in place systems that measure the success of franchisees, and then return the analysis back to each franchisee. This keeps communication transparent. The more transparency that exists, the more motivation franchisees will have.
  1. Engagement of franchisees. Building long-term relationships with your franchisees is essential. With them, you will experience friendship, family issues, sickness, death, succession, and you want to continue to grow through all of these aspects. It is important for franchisees to belong to something bigger. If, as a franchisee, you attend a franchise convention that features a motivational speaker, for example, this is probably something a regular restaurant owner will never get access to. These moments are things I believe people love and getting involved in the role of franchisor means bringing that to the system.
  1. Your franchisees don’t plan the future of your franchise system-you do, so demonstrating leadership by listening is key. Your franchisees cannot generate success on their own, and neither can franchisor. We need each other, and we need to work well together.

As a franchise system is beginning to build, what is the single most important focus in creating a franchise system?

The single most important thing is to create a network of motivated people. These networks tend to self organize, so you don’t need to control everything that happens, just oversee the network with the right type of people, and systems that frame how people interact with one another. By finding the right seed—picking the right franchisees you can work with–and inspiring them with the right system and proper leadership, the network will self organize.

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