We recently announced an expansionary initiative that opened the New York Metro market to franchising and refranchising opportunities. This market has been primarily company-owned and operated locations, which means the decision to franchise in this market was a serious and strategic one. It was important to consider different scenarios before the official roll-out because this decision directly or indirectly impacted the entire Huntington Learning Center system of over 300 locations across the country. The development of this initiative took time and resources, both internal and external, to be a success. We’ve been leading the K-12 tutoring and test prep industry for 42 years because we are methodical and conscientious in our decision-making process.
As a key member of the leadership team, it was important to me to ensure that the strategy, development, communication plan and rollout was done in a collaborative manner and included advisors who have experience in this sort of strategy. As the saying goes, we are only as good as our team, and I am grateful that our leadership team has tenured experience within Huntington and within each leader’s respective fields. In addition to that, I brought on a seasoned advisor who has worked in franchising for nearly 50 years and who has gone through refranchising initiatives similar to the one we rolled out. We put together a team that provided key insight and experience, which helped us execute this strategy.
Too Close for Comfort
When you work inside a company for as long as I have (six years, though as a member of the Huntington family, I’ve been ingrained in the business since birth), you can begin to see things through a specific lens. In fact, many of our top leaders within Huntington have been with the company for over a decade (and some even longer!). Our co-founders, my parents, have been with the company from the beginning. Therefore, it was important to make sure that we included experts from outside the company when we began discussing this strategy in its idea phase. Recognizing that you may be too close to or invested in a project to see alternative perspectives is the first step to thinking outside the box and setting yourself up for positive outcomes.
Identify Areas of the Business You Are Not as Familiar With
When faced with a similar situation, it is important to take a look at the areas of your business and within the marketplace at large that you know inside and out, and identify the areas where you could use supplemental knowledge. For me, this meant bringing in an expert who could add value in terms of franchising best practices. Certainly, at Huntington, we know our franchise business inside and out, and have our own set of brand standards, but we saw the value in taking this moment of expansion to reevaluate our processes and look for areas of improvement. Bringing in an outsider with outside experience helped us understand our options and areas of opportunity that ultimately helped us with the execution.
Just Listen – You Don’t Have to Implement the Recommendations
Just because you hire an outside consultant to help you work through significant moments, transition or business change doesn’t mean you have to take every bit of advice. It’s important to view this time as an opportunity to bounce ideas off of one another, to re-envision the business and to bring new (maybe even out-of-the-box) ideas to the table. It’s important to listen to everyone’s advice and suggestions, discuss them with your internal stakeholders, and ultimately decide as a team what is best for your business.
The best takeaway I’ve learned from this experience is that we are only as good as our team and that we need to surround ourselves with individuals to add value and perspective, challenge us to push harder and are aligned with the strategy, goals and vision of the company. At the end of the day ideas are cheap, it’s how those ideas are executed and delivered that matter.
You and your leadership team know what’s best for your company. Don’t be afraid to let others into this inner circle, if only for a little bit. The new voices and perspectives may be just what your company needs to make lasting, positive change.