Leigh and I became franchisees on our own, separate from each other, before we met.
Neither of us needed the other one to run a business.
That was all well and good when we had multiple businesses – we had the room to run those businesses our own way.
It wasn’t until our third franchise, a bakery, that we actually started running one together.
I came into this franchise after my maternity leave with our twins finished.
Leigh had a right hand man, who he had trained to run the production area for him and he was very good at his job.
So, I took up the front, our employee, let’s call him Mike (to protect the innocent, lol!) ran the back and Leigh oversaw the business and worked where needed.
The problems started when we had a new employee.
I was always looking at the product and production times from the prospective of the customer to increase return visits and sales.
Mike was looking from ease of production, optimisation of equipment and staff to make it run smoothly and efficiently.
Leigh was looking from costs, profits, staff retention, and general business operations as a whole.
One day Leigh was off and Mike had finished for the day and the new employee and I were in the bakery, finishing up.
He pulled out some product from the oven and I asked him to bake it a little lighter next time, as it was what our customers liked.
He looked at me and said “I can’t keep doing this. It’s too hard to keep all of you happy. Mike told me off yesterday for baking it too light and asked for it to be darker. Now you are asking me to bake it lighter. If you guys are going to keep changing your mind and making me feel like I’m doing something wrong, then I’m done working here.”
I stood there shocked for a minute, going “What the hell?!!!”
When I found my voice, I said “What do you mean? We all do it the same, I just ask for it a bit lighter cos that’s what our customers like.”
And he said, “With respect, no you don’t. You ask for things one way, then Mike tells me to do it another way, then Leigh comes in and asks why I’m doing it that way and tells me to change it. Who am I supposed to listen to?”
My ego went “Me of course! Duh!”
My more serious boss side went “Well me of course, I’m all about the customer and with no customers, there’s no business.”
And he said, “Mike says I’m his production employee, so I should listen to him.”
And then it hit me; we were running 3 businesses within 1 business. Mine, Mike’s (even though he was an employee, he was so dedicated to his job that he took on the responsibility like it was his business) and Leigh’s.
So I knew we had to stop doing that crap and have one way for everyone.
So I called a management meeting. In the bakery, when everyone had gone and the 3 of us worked through the recipe book, talking about all the different ways we did things and which one way we were going to commit to.
After some discussion (truthfully some very vocal yelling, lol!) we settled on the ‘Willowbrook way.’
Each of our egos was told to rack off and do what was best for the customer, the staff and the bakery as a whole.
We then called a staff meeting and told them what we had come up with.
We also apologised to our team for putting them in this position without even realising it.
And we went forward from there. It wasn’t always smooth sailing, there were definitely times when the differences popped up again, but we hashed it out each time and adopted the Willowbrook way.
So, do you have too many cooks in the kitchen? Too many egos warring to be running the show? It can be your employees that have to try and make that work and I am thankful that this employee actually had the guts to tell me what was going on. Otherwise, we may have just lost great staff and not known why.
I hope this story can help you in your business.
Til next time,