Franchise Success Call

Developing your Next Generation of Leaders

leadership multi-unit franchising people May 23, 2023
Developing your future leaders

(Part 3 of the Multi-Unit Franchising Conference 2023)


As I’ve been doing in the past few weeks, in today's blog post I’ll review the insights of one of the Multi-Unit Franchising Conference 2023 sessions I participated in. Now it’s turn to discuss how to develop the next generation of leaders in your organization. 

  • This topic is near and dear to my heart because I was able to have a career and improve myself in the franchise industry because of those opportunities. 

The franchise industry allows people to grow within the business structure thanks to the design of systems and processes. This model can also help them achieve the American dream of business ownership and success

The reality is that among the franchise enterprises, there are many superstar employees, just like I was, that are hungry to grow and succeed. These employees are looking for their next opportunity and it is up to you, as a franchisee, to offer those possibilities so they can develop themselves in your organization. Otherwise, they will pursue that growth somewhere else. 

The following are best practices and tips shared by:

  • Austin Campbell, a franchisee from Sola Salon Studios
  • Eric Danver, a franchisee from Hand & Stone Massage and Facial Spa
  • Nauman Panjwani, a franchisee from Choice Hotels
  • Thomas Pentenburg, franchise owner of Spherion Staffing
  • Mitch Cohen, franchisee from Jersey Mikes Subs and Sola Salon Studios, and moderator

I’m also adding some ideas of my own. In summary, this turned into five steps for developing the next generation of leaders for your organization.

Subscribe to our YouTube channel to review the rest of the 2023 Multi-Unit Franchising Conference series!


Step 1: Define the career path in your organization

Considering your business structure, you have to determine how people can grow and what path they should follow to achieve their dreams

Once you have this definition, you should document it and then share it with everybody. Aside from this, graph the process so your people can understand the steps they have to take to go from point A to point B in their careers.

This is how you can develop your internal leadership bench


Step 2: Look for the rising stars with the desire to grow

Not everybody wants to be a leader. Many people limit themselves to just doing their work every day and then go home. But I’m sure that within your team you also have those rising stars who have the burning desire to grow and always try to go the extra mile. 

Identify the people with that attitude, with no limitation of what position they're currently in, and you’ll have no problem teaching them the skills, abilities, and knowledge they require to scale up. Because they have to be willing to do the work that will get them where they want. 

Once you have found those people, analyze how they fit in your culture, team, and customers, and if their values align with yours. Think about it! They might be the ones that will grow your organization in the future, so having this match is critical.

  • If you have those things, the desire to grow, someone that aligns with your organization's culture, and the willingness to do the work to get there, that is magical!

Another tip from the panel is to broaden your search, meaning you should look for these people not only promoting from within. You can partner with local organizations to recruit external people who have those skills, checking if they possess what it takes during the interview process.

Especially if you are aggressively growing your organization, and opening many units, you have to consider every hire as a potential leadership position. So keeping that bench growing should be one of your goals.

Watch this mini tip: 5 steps to promote from within


Step 3: Have a development plan

Invest the time and effort to build a development plan for those people who have the desire, the culture, and the willingness to do the work to make it happen. 

If you have a large enough organization, you can create this plan along with your district manager. Otherwise, you as a franchisee have to write it down yourself. Either way, it is important to involve those future leaders in the development of the training, education, and preparation plan that will allow them to grow.

Another great idea is to assign mentors to these rising stars so that they can catch up with somebody who is at the level they want to be, and learn what it takes to make that happen. 

This mentor should also empower them to demonstrate their abilities but also encourage them to fail. Potential leaders have to understand that making mistakes is just another step and that it is important to learn from those errors so they can move forward in their journey to becoming great leaders

These mentors can even encourage them to run the business like it's their own. I think that that's one of the secrets of my career: whenever I worked with franchisees around the world, I always made the decisions and the work as if it was my business. By doing so, I would accomplish a lot more than if I just saw my job just as an employee. 

Besides, having this view will give the potential leaders a deeper understanding, education, and experience on how to operate the business, which will also help get them from one place to another in terms of knowledge.


Step 4: Assess the growth

The development plan is not over when you finish writing it. You have to do a follow-up on their progress. If you don't, how would you know they're growing and excelling in their abilities, skills, and knowledge?

Assessing that growth will help you understand who is progressing and who is getting closer to the next step, as well as provide honest feedback on what they need to improve so they can work on it. Plus, they can share if they are struggling with something. 

This information will help you make plans for your bench and your openings. 

  • A lot of times, franchisee organizations are held back in growth not because of a lack of locations or access to capital, but for a lack of leadership to run those units. 

So implementing this step will allow you to plan for your future. 

Don’t miss: Practical tips to hire top talent


Step 5: Provide opportunities

Whenever there's a leadership position in your organization, make sure you share it with everybody that is in line, waiting for an opportunity. 

Another great thing to do is to share the profit with the leaders in your organization, whether unit, general, or district managers, because, at the end of the day, they are the ones that are making the profits happen. You can do it through bonus programs or some other financial benefit.

Why not consider operating partners? Something I heard a lot in this large multi-unit conference is that several franchise organizations are offering a true partnership for the business. As a result, they get complete attention, loyalty, and commitment from those people since they have a stake in the business.


Hopefully, this makes you think about what you can do better to create opportunities for the next generation of leaders in your organization. 

The American Franchise Academy can help you in this endeavor through three career-distinct programs:

  • The Unit Management Certification Program, recently launched and specifically designed to help unit managers, assistant managers, and single-unit franchisees acquire management and leadership skills to lead their teams and make their units profitable. 
  • The Multi-Unit Leadership Certification Program, that teach the district managers and their supervisors the seven core responsibilities and routines that they should do every day to be effective at their job.
  • The Command Program, our signature program, designed to help franchisees develop, document, and delegate the process, systems, and procedures they need in the management side of their business to delegate operations to their leaders so they can focus on growth.

If you're interested to learn more about how we can support you in building those leaders in your organization and achieving that desired scalability, reach out to us! We can help you in your journey. 

Don’t forget to follow us on our YouTube channel, subscribe to our podcast and find us on all of our platforms across social media, where you can find a lot more knowledge, tips, and information for you to be successful. 


  • How are you helping your top talent to grow within your company?
  • Where else can you go find the leadership talent you need to amplify your leadership bench?
  • Do your rising stars have clarity on what they require to scale up?
  • Are the future leaders of your organization growing and improving or are they getting stuck?