Finding purpose through work is an ideal that few have achieved. Those of us who aren't in careers that are innately altruistic can find purpose by aligning with a company that has a dedication to social responsibility and giving back. The franchise community is making meaningful work easier to find with a host of purpose-driven brands. The industry has a long history of service and has made huge impacts on local communities. In fact, the International Franchise Association (IFA) has a group solely dedicated to recognizing and fostering the contributions of franchise business leaders year-round.
Franchising Gives Back shares stories about and awards brands that make a difference. At IFA's annual convention, the group rallies the franchise community to engage in a team service project. During its annual Volunteer Day of Service, franchise professionals roll up their sleeves to paint, garden and do anything else needed to serve a specific need in a community.
In the same way franchisors create business plans for franchisees to follow, some offer plans for community service. Often, a franchisor will come up with the charitable concept, create the marketing materials and even match contributions. By launching these programs from a corporate level, franchisors make it easy for franchise owners to implement programs in their local communities. For the franchisee, giving back becomes a turn-key operation. If you think about it, with that structure, one franchise brand with 300 locations can make an enormous impact.
Who is seeking purpose through work?
Making a difference is often at the top of franchise seekers' wish lists. Being part of the industry, I see it all the time. As a founder of a franchise broker network, my company helps connect hopeful entrepreneurs with franchise opportunities. We work with people who want to leave corporate America and find more purpose through their work.
Many candidates had long careers making corporations rich and now want to give back and build their own wealth. Others, such as millennials, set out to make a difference right away and launch franchises at the onset of their careers. Those born between 1980 and 1996 are known to actively pursue careers that have an impact on more than just their bank accounts. In a study of millennials from Olivet Nazarene University, half of the respondents said they would take less money to do more meaningful work, and 68% said they'd work longer hours to do more meaningful work.
Even though I'm not a millennial, I agree with their philosophy: Work should have meaning. I have heard from countless franchisors that millennials make great franchise owners, and I can understand why. Believing in what you do and how you impact others is motivating for all of us, no matter the demographic.
The importance of a company's mission statement
Those seeking a higher purpose can pretty much find a franchise brand that is a good fit for their values as well as interests and budget. Some brands like Chick-fil-A and Office Pride follow biblical principles and state them very clearly on their company websites. Chick-Fil-A's mission isn’t hidden, nor does it attempt to appeal to everyone. It clearly states what the company is all about: "To glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us. To have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A."
The company's founder, S. Truett Cathy said, "We should be about more than just selling chicken. We should be a part of our customers' lives and the communities in which we serve." His mission set the tone for the fast-casual giant's culture, and franchise owners are expected to adhere to it. Part of that includes closing on Sundays to give operators and employees a day of rest.
Other franchisors have mission statements that aren't necessarily religious but exist to make the world a better place. Junk-hauling franchisor College HUNKS Hauling Junk & Moving prides itself as a company with a noble purpose: "Our purpose is to 'Move the World' emotionally by eliminating stress for people who are moving or dealing with clutter, and by creating opportunities for entrepreneurs and hard workers who are eager to learn how to build a business. We do it by living out our core values."
Not only are the company's values listed on their website, but the company's culture is built right into their name. HUNKS is an acronym for honest, uniformed, nice, knowledgeable and service. Countless other franchise brands give back regularly and actively recruit franchise owners who want to do the same.
Depending on the franchisor, an alignment of values can play a big part in franchisee selection. Many franchisors actively seek candidates who see things the same way and agree to uphold the company's culture. If a candidate isn't aligned with the company's ideals, the franchisor won't award a territory.
The benefits of aligning with a mission-driven franchise
Owning a mission-driven franchise is desirable for many reasons beyond the feel-good aspect. Here are four additional benefits a mission-driven franchise offers franchises, its employees and the community:
- It boosts employee morale. Franchise owners can build strong teams by working toward a greater good. What can be a better team-building activity than giving back as a group? A study conducted by Deloitte found that 70% of working Americans believe "volunteer activities are more likely to boost employee morale than company-sponsored happy hours."
- It builds relationships in communities. Franchises are small local businesses. Helping others in their community opens doors for franchisees to meet more people and build important relationships. Those relationships are essential for the growth and success of many franchise businesses.
- It can attract quality employees. Employees can make or break a business. Companies that have clear missions and a purposeful culture attract the best employees. In fact, Glassdoor's 2019 Mission and Culture Survey found that more than 77% of adults across four countries (the United States, U.K., France and Germany) would consider a company's culture before applying for a job there, and 79% would consider a company's mission and purpose before applying.
- It generates positive public relations/press. Typically, a franchisee's efforts to help others doesn't go unnoticed. Media outlets love to tell stories about local businesses that give back. Not only does helping others feel good, but it can put your business in a positive light. Since a lot of franchises are home-based or run from non-retail locations, media coverage helps spread the word about the businesses locally.
- It can help in a crisis. Being part of a franchise means you can be proactive about community service. With the COVID-19 pandemic, franchisees everywhere stepped up to make a difference. Some donated PPE to hospitals and fire stations, others gave meals to essential workers. Contributions from the franchise community have made a tremendous impact all over the world.
Mark Twain once said, "The two most important days in life are the day you are born and the day you discover the reason why." His sentiment still applies today. As a franchise owner, people can find more meaning through their work. The opportunities to help others are as plentiful and diverse as the brands out there. There no longer has to be a choice between doing well and doing good.