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Promoting your Next District Manager

district manager leadership multi-unit franchising planning Jun 06, 2023
Your next district manager

Did you know that if you promote from within your organization, you increase your chances of success than if you hire an external candidate?

  • Especially when it comes to the critical positions for your operations, such as the district manager, internal promotions will get you a bigger probability of hitting the bulls-eye.

The reason is simple: you know that person, their work ethic, and if they are a cultural fit to your organization, as well as their operational abilities and skills, and how they manage operations. All of this information gives you a window view into how they perform if you promote them. However, you have to do it the right way to secure success.

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Want to be successful when promoting from within? Take note of these six characteristics that the best district managers possess.


1. They are self-driven

This is probably one of the most important aspects the candidates require when applying for a district manager job. They need to proactively look at their reports, numbers, people, and operations to correctly analyze the business and take the right actions. 

The ideal district manager should be able to determine and discern what’s the next best move and execute it to impact their unit’s performance. And, they do this on their own accord before their direct supervisor tells them what they need to do or look for. This is why you should look for unit managers that are self-directed in observing, researching, and analyzing, as well as proactive and results-oriented.


2. They are trainers and learners

District managers are multi-unit leaders and thus, are constantly training and developing people. But at the same time, they need to have a learning mindset to improve themselves and to transmit that knowledge and information to others. There is no better way to influence and inspire others than to be their teacher, their coach and have them discover new things through you. 

As a leader, you need to develop a similar skill. View this vblog to discover the role of multi-unit franchisees in their organization.

Think about it this way: your future district manager will develop the future leaders within their zone. So look for those unit managers that have hired and developed great leaders, inspired and coached them, and then allowed them to grow into unit managers.

If you have a general manager or a unit manager that produces future leaders, that’s a great way to detect potential district managers.


3. They are respected

Future district managers tend to hold high respect and appreciation from staff and fellow unit managers. This characteristic matters because once they begin to oversee and direct supervise their former peers, having people on their side will make things easier.

It will also make employees see them as someone from whom they can learn and get value because of their experience, knowledge, and abilities. So, the likelihood of them being successful is going to be much higher.

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4. They keep turnover low

The fourth characteristic you should look for is that they can retain the personnel that works on their unit. You can get this insight by monitoring the turnover of all of your units (I hope you're doing that!).

A lot of the time, turnover is driven by the manager of that unit. So, if you have a leader that has low turnover, that’s an indicator of loyalty, leadership, and appreciation, which gives you a great clue of who may be a potential candidate for a district manager in the future.


5. They are organized

District managers deal with a lot of data, materials, and things that need their follow-up. If they are not organized, they are most likely going to drop the ball in important tasks and responsibilities. 

Look for people that use calendars, don’t miss deadlines, are always on top of their actions, and do an excellent job monitoring not only their activities but what others have to do. Is their office a mess or are they pretty organized? Are their files straight and orderly? Do they know exactly where to find things? Use these as hints to help you recognize "raw diamonds".


6. Operationally sound

Your future district manager may not be the best operator, but as long as they know the brand standards and policies, and understand and execute the business management systems, they can pass the test. Even better if they can teach the processes and procedures, repeat them, and evaluate whether they are being done with excellence or not.


If you can see these six characteristics among someone within your personnel, don’t lose sight of them! A final note: this is not something you do only when you need a district manager; you should do it constantly. Develop a bench plan for future district managers to help you detect the talent that could potentially be grown into that position. 

Want to learn how to develop a leadership bench? Don’t miss this video!

Also, let your unit managers and staff know that you are committed to internal promotions and share with them these six characteristics that you are looking for. That way, if they are interested in growing, they know what they should focus on to be ready when the time comes.

If you like to learn about our development program, both for you and your district managers, go to, where you can get the tools, knowledge, and resources you need to help your organization grow and achieve financial success.

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  • What are the tools and resources you have to help you detect future district managers?
  • How are you helping your candidates reach their full potential? 
  • What other skills do you think are key for district managers?
  • Is your organization ready to hire for this critical position?