Money Doesn’t Buy Happiness: Encourage Validation That Goes Beyond Earnings

My No. 1 rule for having a successful franchise business is this: You need to make sure your franchise partners are happy. Then, worry about your guests, your products and everything else.

Granted, on some days, depending on my mood and mindset, I might tell you that great products are the most important, or that guest satisfaction is paramount. But I can tell you that no business is going to remain in business if the people who work there are unhappy or unmotivated. In my case, with a franchise, if the franchise partners are in a good mood, that’s going to translate into their team members enjoying their work, which will trigger a positive domino effect through other aspects of the business because there is true power in great partnerships.

If that resonates with you and you’re wondering how to spread happiness to your franchise partners and their team members, I have a few ideas.

Ask your franchise partners and/or team members if they’re happy. You can’t know you have a problem – or that you’re on the right track – if you don’t talk to your people. At Wayback Burgers, we do internal surveys to see how everyone is doing on a bi-yearly basis. In our latest, we found that two-thirds of our franchise partners would open a Wayback Burgers again if they were given the chance to start everything over. Plus, more than 70% said they would love to open more locations.

Of course, if you’re not familiar with these types of surveys, you might think, “Well, that doesn’t sound that great.” Like all franchise systems, we have our top performers and bottom performers. For two-thirds of our franchise partners to say they would do everything all over again, and more than 70% to say they would open more locations is a great sign.

They’re high numbers because, despite popular misconceptions, very few franchise owners are among the country’s wealthy elite. The clear majority are small business owners busting their tails to earn a living and achieve the American Dream. It’s important that franchise partner satisfaction is driven by more than just sales – the food, the culture, the lifestyle and the opportunity to give back to local communities all come into play.

Listen to your team members and franchise partners. People want to know that their opinions are respected and valued. It really isn’t a hard thing for a business owner to do. You just need to have a system in place so that people can be heard on a regular basis, be it through surveys, regular meetings or even inviting team members to write guest columns in company newsletters.

I think everyone knows that all ideas may not ultimately be used, especially in a large organization, but people still appreciate being heard. We often receive great ideas from the system when we reach out and listen to what other people have to say. The franchise partners and team members in the trenches arguably know some aspects of your company better than you do.

Be a cheerleader. If you really want your franchise partners and team members to be happy, you’ll encourage them. You’ll let them know that their hard work and great deeds are being noticed. Profile successful, community-focused franchise owners on your website and in promotional materials, especially when they go beyond just financial success. Give out awards each year dedicated to the franchise owners that best adopt your cultural values – rewarding those who buy into everything the brand represents. If you can get people excited and happy about their work, they’re going to work harder (studies back me up on this) and make more money, which will make them even happier – and, by the way, that’s good for the whole franchise system.

Yes, making money is great, but making people happy and doing good for others is really what life is about. If you can support that pursuit, you’ll find your business will thrive because of it. The saying is money doesn’t buy happiness, but sometimes happiness does bring money.