How to attract Millennials and Gen Z into the world of franchising

The current skills shortage is impacting every industry right now and it’s forcing many businesses to reappraise their normal recruitment channels to try and find better ways of attracting top talent.

However, not everyone is bothering to make the extra effort needed. Tempting younger people into franchising businesses has been a notoriously tricky challenge for a variety of reasons. Some brands are simply putting this into the ‘too hard basket' and have made the decision to continue heading down the well-worn avenue of targeting individuals with a wealth of management, life and business experience.

The value of youth  

This is a shame. With bold ideas and new ways of approaching the same old business problems, younger franchisees have so much to offer. On a practical level, they have long careers ahead of them which gives them plenty of time to grow their business successfully and shape the franchise network with their innovative thinking.

It would also be fair to say that they’re more in step with the latest trends and, better still, they have a good handle on how to connect with customers which would be a definite asset for any franchise network.

So, the big question is, how can franchisors appeal to 18 to 35-year-olds and how can they position their franchise model as an exciting career proposition?

Stand for something!

Millennials and Gen Z aren’t stupid. They know that businesses exist to generate profit. However, to attract the younger age groups a business needs to have other ambitions beyond this.

We’re thinking of things like sustainability and positive social impact. Gen Z in particular, are as interested in a company’s vision, mission and values as they are in its capacity to make a profit and provide competitive financial rewards.

Upgrade your technology

Younger generations have grown up with touch screens and are on first-name terms with Alexa and all her fellow voice command assistants. If the way your franchise network runs feels old-fashioned, then young talent is unlikely to want to jump on board.

Younger individuals are more likely to feel at home with artificial intelligence and the latest mobile services. I don’t have to think too far back to remember that my generation needed to make business calls on pay phones. This seems so primitive compared to Millennials and Gen Z who are busy learning how to code websites in school.

Gone are the days of paper, folders and filing cabinets, with all information now stored digitally. But that’s no longer enough – the younger generations are so environmentally conscious that they expect everything to be solved digitally these days.

The COVID-19 lockdowns highlighted a perfect example of the new evolved mindset. Businesses had no other choice than to seek out and embrace digital solutions and, in some cases, it was the digital solutions that kept businesses alive. This extraordinary period illustrated, that while you can teach an old dog new tricks, the process is considerably easier with young dogs that are already forward-facing.

So, while it’s true that younger franchisees can help lead a business into the tech-driven future, they will expect a certain amount of technology to be already in place before they’re prepared to sign on the dotted line.

Be flexible

Younger generations often see business as a vehicle for creativity and personal growth, so brands need to demonstrate how their model can bring out the best in them. Embracing the hybrid working model is one obvious example. Job sharing and new expressions of the work-life balance are other desirable aspects of flexible employment.

Rigid structures and franchise models that don’t offer any kind of flexible working practices appear old-fashioned and aren’t an attractive proposition to anyone these days, let alone the young.

On the other hand, if your franchise organisation is already ahead of the game in this respect, then you should be shouting about it from the rooftops. Before long, you’ll have more CVs from Millennials and Gen Z than you can handle.

Create a collaborative culture

Young would-be franchisees want to be heard and listened to. Let’s face it, who doesn’t?

Communication is key. You need to provide ample opportunity for all franchisees to contribute, and be heard. That doesn’t mean a franchisor has to take on board everything their franchise network suggests. But always be prepared to listen.

A franchisor can benefit from creating opportunities for franchisees to speak up and put forward their ideas in a constructive environment. That might be through a Franchise Advisory Board or through Focus Groups.  

People want to run their own businesses not just to make money, but for the pride that comes with ownership. Millennials and Gen Z are keen to have some form of influence in their community. A progressive franchisor will make it clear that not only does every franchisee has a voice, but it’s a voice that will be listened to. 

Published by Swimtime: (updated: )