4 things that drive cultural inclusion in your franchise network

By Sarah Stowe | 04 Feb 2019 View comments

Muffin Break GM Natalie Brennan shares tips on how to bridge the cultural diversity gap in a franchise.

“We have never had an intentional program to recruit different cultures,” says Brennan. “We’ve always had a good stream of potential franchisees. We don’t advertise overseas.”

So what is it that Muffin Break is doing that brings in franchisees from diverse backgrounds?

1. Know the immigration trends

“The types of people attracted to our middle range brand really reflects the immigration of Australia. It was South Africa 20 years ago, the UK, then over the last 10 years we’ve started to see applicants who are Chinese born, in the last five years, Indian. That matches the Census data,” says Brennan.

Franchising can appeal to the many immigrants whose professional skill sets aren’t recognised in Australia and need to do some bridging education to be employed in their chosen field as a doctor or lawyer, Brennan says.

“There is a group looking for opportunities. If you’re new in Australia a support network is a good start, you don’t need to know everything about the local customs and laws, it’s a really good platform into the business.”

2. Network growth

Franchisees themselves influence how the network grows, particularly in the cities. “If we’re building a store in regional Australia, we probably wouldn’t have immigrants apply but Sydney and Melbourne metro would probably be 100 per cent Chinese or Indian.”

When franchisees sell on their business they tend to do so within their own network, Chinese franchisees advertising in Chinese language newspapers.

3. Understand what’s beneath franchisee resistance

Fifty two per cent of Foodco franchisees are not Australian-born; that means there may be significant cultural differences at play in the network.

“At some point you have to address that – we have this particular group buying and selling to a demographic we are not familiar with. For instance, in Asian cultures food waste is a very difficult concept. But in a bakery you have to have an idea of waste, in order to sell. You may throw food out but you still make the same amount the next day.”

When franchisees make less because they sell less, the continual downward spiral doesn’t help sales, says Brennan. Field managers have to physically show how to sell the last muffins at the end of the day.

While Australian-born franchisees are hard-wired to respond to the give-away, loyalty campaign other cultures expect a transaction at the cheapest price.

“Retail in other countries is a transaction. But in Australia, we want to have a relationship with people we buy off, that’s the hard part – the soft deals and the intangibles,” says Brennan.

4. Break down the language barriers

Working with a translator showed the team at Muffin Break there were specific concepts not in the language spoken by many of their franchisees.

“The translator was translating the intention not the words. We realised that there was a concept not in their language. The concept of extraction in the coffee process doesn’t exist in Mandarin for instance.

“We worked out what were the key issues and whenever we train, we describe things in a different way. In the training itself we use apps and do initial one-on-one training.

“Pivotal for us was translating training material into Mandarin. Don’t we want to give them the absolutely easiest way to read that? Wouldn’t it be better to give them the recipe in their language so they can concentrate on relationship not translation?”

Weekly newsletter to franchisees are translated to Mandarin.

This helps them feel part of the concept, says Brennan.

Franchising is a good way to bring the family in to a new Australian life.

“Some Asian franchisees stay for 10 years. They come into Australia to build a life and if we can help them, that’s fantastic.”