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5 Proven Skills That Will Help District Managers Execute Better

district manager multi-unit franchising Mar 23, 2022
District Manager's Responsibility #4: Execute

(Part 4 of the District Manager Responsibilities series) 

In a multi-unit franchise organization, the district manager’s job is quite complex because the several units they oversee are very different from each other. Even though they are all from a single franchise brand, each acts as a business on its own, with its people, teams, needs, goals, and challenges.

To respond to this complexity these leaders have to develop a set of skills to be successful. In this blog post, we’ll review the abilities they should have regarding the task of execution, which is the fourth critical responsibility of a district manager.

Don’t miss the whole District Manager’s video series to learn what are the 7 core responsibilities these leaders must fulfill and how we can help them. Subscribe to our YouTube Channel to view our live sessions!

Executing a franchise business model correctly, with all the business and brand systems, in all of the units, and with a high level of excellence, is crucial to accomplish the goals of their district and to help your company thrive. The following are the five proven skills that will help the district manager perform better:

  1. Be self-driven

One of the biggest differences between a unit manager and a district manager is that the first one has their day-to-day operations well defined whereas the second acts following their district’s needs. That’s why they require enough self-discipline to determine what are the things they’ll focus on to make a difference

Review the 4 planning abilities that’ll help district managers do more in less time to deal with this uncertainty.

The skill can be developed either naturally, meaning they are self-driven without effort, or because they have the discipline to drive themselves into the actions and activities they must do to be successful. 

Not everybody has the skill. Some people need to be told what to do. But, if a district manager waits for instructions of their supervisors to get into action, it’ll be very difficult for them to succeed.

This role demands a determination to make decisions based on the needs of the district, and many times the supervisor won’t know the stores or the team the way the district manager does. Having a self-driven personality will help them get motivated to do the actions they need in their district. 

  1. Prioritize correctly

Not only do district managers need to have the motivation to do activities, but they also have to properly prioritize what to do first. That means, they must be able to distinguish between what is urgent and what is important, and when one needs to be done versus the other. 

Also, they must be able to take care of one thing when it needs to be solved and then easily move to the next task that requires their attention. Otherwise, they’ll end up becoming a fireman or firewoman, always focusing only on the urgent things or “putting out fires”, as we say.


  1. Conduct an effective unit visit

The third proven skill that will help district managers is the ability to conduct an effective unit visit, which ultimately is their most important responsibility to cause a change in the execution of the business and brand systems.

Watch this video to calculate what’s the ideal number of units per district manager.

They must have a clear process on how to do this and understand the specific steps they must take to have a positive unit visit. What is this? One that moves the business forward and leaves a favorable impression on the team so that they can carry on your direction in the improvement of that unit.

They also need the skill to do a proper follow-up of the outcomes of that visit because, at the end of the day, the magic is in the follow-up.

  1. Create an action plan for change

Having the ability to create an action plan that conducts a transformation of the business units is another critical skill that district managers need to develop.

Because of the distances between the stores, this leader won’t be able to be in all their units daily, and they can only spend a limited amount of time in each one of them, not only conducting an effective unit visit but, if need be, creating an action plan that causes change.

This plan has to be understood by the manager and leader of the unit not as a disciplinary plan but as a way to help develop the crew and guide the team to the next level.

  1. Recognize people’s contributions

As leaders of people, district managers must fulfill the needs of their crew members, such as being recognized for their accomplishments. To do so, they need to be:

  • Be self-aware. Meaning that they have to be conscious of who they are as a leader, what their personality is, and what their strengths and weaknesses are. This knowledge will help them lead others.
  • Be aware of their people. Just as important, they have to know the people they are going to lead, their strengths, the leadership they are looking for, their weaknesses, how to develop them to the next level, and truly care about them.

These multi-unit leaders need to be focused outside of themselves and focused on the people on the team. The more a district manager forgets that is about them and focuses more on their people, showing them how much they care about them, the more successful they are going to be. 


As you can see, ensuring that all of the district manager’s units execute the brand and business systems with a high level of excellence requires a lot of skills. If you are interested to learn how to develop those skills, The American Franchise Academy can help!

We can help your district managers become better leaders with our Multi-Unit Leadership Certification Program. In our upcoming information session, we’ll share what the program is, how we deliver it, and the outcome you can expect at the end of this 10-week program. 

Register for the free information session at 

And don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and subscribe to our YouTube Channel to view the rest of the District Manager’s video series.

  • How are your district managers executing your business and brand systems?
  • Are they able to prioritize their multiple responsibilities, or are they always putting out fires?
  • How effective are their unit visits?
  • Are their plans and actions having a positive impact on the business profitability?