Patrick Sanders on getting the most from your franchisees Featured

12:06pm EDT July 5, 2011
Patrick Sanders Patrick Sanders

Patrick Sanders has more than 100 business partners. And that’s not including the people in the front office of Max Muscle.

Sanders is the president of Peak Franchising Inc., the franchising business for fitness and nutrition company Max Muscle. He is in charge of finding and coaching new owners for Max Muscle stores, which generated nearly $50 million in revenue last year. The company has grown to more than 140 franchised locations, meaning there are more than 140 people who need to get on the same page with regard to Max Muscle’s mission and vision.

Smart Business spoke with Sanders about how he finds, trains and communicates with all of the franchisees under his umbrella.

What is the biggest franchising challenge you have had?

Franchising has its challenges because franchisees are your partners. In our case, there are hundreds of individual store owners out there. We don’t view it as an employer-employee relationship. That’s not the way franchising works. So as you ask the question, what is the biggest challenge in leading this organization, I’ve got hundreds of independent store owners that we have to try and get on the same page as you talked about. How do we set goals for them, how do we set a vision, how do we get them all going in the same direction?

That has been my biggest challenge, and we effectively overcome that through communication. We communicate with our franchisees and corporate employees on an ongoing basis. Certain segments are weekly; other segments are daily.

How do you facilitate dialogue among employees and franchisees?

I’m really pleased that every week, we have a systemwide conference call with all of our franchisees. Every week, a franchisee dials an 800 number and the whole system gets on the call, and we discuss every issue that we’re attacking that week.

In addition, there are subsidiary groups of franchisees and corporate employees that. We also dialogue with every week in a conference call forum. I find these to be really our primary vehicle because it’s a discussion. You can hear people talking back and forth; you can hear inflections in their voice and passion, and all of the things that make people so great at communicating.

What would you tell other business leaders about bringing people together in a company?

It is a bit challenging. I centered it around a value proposition. I don’t believe I can get both employees and franchisees to grasp and accept our vision, and thusly our goals and objectives, if they don’t see that as a positive in their particular area of interest. For franchisees, as with many people, we need to make sure the value we’re bringing them is making them more profitable. I have a tendency to overcome those challenges by showing people the value that this particular initiative or program or concept has, showing them the value of how that benefits them. That facilitates that dialogue. Suddenly, they’re asking questions, they’re saying ‘Wait, here is a viewpoint.’ That suddenly opens up the floodgates and you get this interactivity, which when you’ve had a chance to do that with them, then they understand what you’re trying to accomplish, we understand their reality. And by understanding both of those components, understanding the reality and challenges that each of us have there.

How do you set boundaries in discussions to keep people focused on end goals?

It’s interesting, because can you imagine having 200 people on one conference call? It can get really interesting. What we’ll do for each of these opportunities to communicate is we do publish an agenda for each of those calls. We’ll send out an agenda via e-mail, and everyone is pretty trained to know they need to stick with the agenda. If they have other issues they need to bring up, they go back to us independently, knowing that we’re going to try to get it into one of these conference call forums.

How to reach: Max Muscle, (714) 456-0700 or