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Franchising Can Learn a Lesson from Great NFL Coaches

Franchisors and franchisees can benefit from the leadership style and management skills of the NFL’s great coaches.Being an avid sports fan, I’ve had the benefit of watching professional football for a number of years.During this time I’ve been able to observe how the best NFL head coaches have led their teams to success. Although the great  head coaches both past and present may differ in style there are certain attributes and practices these individuals share. Vince Lombardi had a different style than Bill Walsh and current Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has a far different style than Pittsburg Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, however, these top notch leaders are more similar than what might appear on the surface.

Here are ten similarities of great NFL coaches. Note how these can fit into franchise leadership:

  1. The great coaches have strong leadership traits that inspire their players to follow their lead. They are passionate, committed and respected.
  2. They treat all of their players the same. The players know what is expected of them. If they fail to follow team standards and requirements they will be off the team. In franchising this converts to maintaining and upholding franchise system standards for all franchisees. McDonalds has spent millions in legal costs over the years in order to protect and uphold their system standards.
  3. The great NFL head coaches had great or very good quarterbacks. Franchise leaders should surround themselves with quality staff. From headquarters to field staff a franchisor needs quality people.
  4. They evaluate, acquire and draft the right players to fit their team. They rarely compromise their player profile. This is not very different than those franchisors that recruit and select qualified and competent franchisees.
  5. They have a sound and effective system they implement and adjust when needed. The successful franchise systems are built upon sound operational and marketing programs and can change with the times.
  6. Are tireless workers.
  7. They demand excellence in practice. New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady often attributes team victories to focused and successful practice sessions which are duplicated during real game conditions. In franchising this translates into training that is not limited to initial franchisee training but rather takes place on an on-going basis.
  8. They say the right thing or say very little. Very rarely do great coaches say something that they will later regret. Franchise leaders speak individually and through their subordinates. When conflicts or differences with franchisees arise the effective franchise leader can defuse and correct problems.
  9. Have a winning football program. As Bill Parcells once said: “Your record says who you are” A successful franchise program has steady growth, profitable franchisees, and positive franchise relations with minimal or no litigation.
  10. They study and understand how to defeat their opponents. An analogy can be made between an opponent and a franchise competitor. The coaches and staff devote countless hours viewing video of their opponents. They use the information to find tendencies and identify weaknesses. Franchisors should follow suit by gathering as much information as possible about their competitors.

The great NFL coaches share certain traits. These traits can be compared to the leadership of successful franchise companies. Franchise systems that are in need of improvement might take a cue from the practices of the great NFL coaches.

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About Ed Teixeira

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Public Profile

Ed Teixeira is the founder and owner of FranchiseKnowHow, which publishes articles and provides advice for prospective and existing franchisees and franchisors. He is also COO of Ed's most recent book is The Franchise Buyers Manual, a comprehensive guide for prospective franchisees. He has also published the Home Care Franchise Industry Update for the past 3 years. Ed has worked in the franchise industry for over thirty five years. He was a franchisee and has served as a corporate executive for firms in the retail, manufacturing, healthcare and technology industries. Over the course of his career Ed has been involved with over 1,000 franchise locations and has transacted international licensing in Europe, Asia and South America. His articles and interviews have appeared in numerous publications and media. Ed has spoken before various groups including: the International Franchise Association, the International Franchise Expo, European Healthcare Conference in Luxumbourg and the Chinese Franchise Association in Shanghai, China. He has participated in the CEO Magazine Roundtable Meetings with business leaders from around the country. 

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Franchise Consultant