Interview with Anand Paul Anthraper, Sr. Director, District – Northern Ontario at Loblaw.
This text was inspired by a discussion with Anand Paul Anthraper, Sr. Director, District – Northern Ontario at Loblaw.
Loblaw is Canada’s largest retailer with various banners, which also includes a franchisee banner to which Paul belongs. You might not know (I certainly did not) that the etymology of the word “Franchise” stems from the old French word meaning “free.”
And it makes a lot of sense.
A franchisee connected to a well-functioning franchisor will have access to an established brand, effective operational processes and best practises that give the franchisee owner the freedom within a framework to NOT have to think about a big part of the business process.
The franchisee owner can instead focus on building their business through developing their local market by building local connections or doing local marketing campaigns.
Or, in the words of Paul: “A franchisee is free to expand the business while not having to think of recreating the basics of a retail business yet, free to cater to the need of their community in the way they feel is good for their employees and customers.”
Paul gave me inspiring examples of how one franchisee, during the covid pandemic, had introduced hearing loops in the store together with the organization Canadian Hard of Hearing as he realized that people with hearing problems were suffering when everyone was wearing masks. He also told me about how one local store worked closely with the people of the local First Nations Indigenous community to market and sell their products to grow a genuine local connection for the store and strengthen Diversity and Inclusivity.
According to Paul, there are many ways in which owners can be creative and use their freedom but still deliver the programs, eg:
• Marketing – he calls it creating the “personality” of the store that customers see, in strong promotions such as flash sale offers or letting the local community take advantage of member deals through local social messaging.
• Driving food waste initiatives through diversion initiatives etc
• Developing and engaging their employees and future leaders within their communities.
Because the franchisee is an entrepreneur, they have a bigger incentive to develop the local community than a regular “store manager” as a franchisee normally has a longer time horizon, a larger economic incentive and a personal interest in making their franchisee do well in their local and surrounding community.
The balance between using established processes and yet keeping a level of creative freedom means that a franchisee often hits the “Freedom Sweet Spot” that is so important to be creative.
With too many boundaries, it’s hard to be creative. But it’s also true that with no boundaries or a framework, it’s also hard to be creative.
What does your own freedom sweet spot look like?
Do you need more or less boundaries?
Remember: Freedom might just be the strongest fertilizer of creativity, but too much fertilizer could actually damage the plant. And too much freedom can damage your creativity.
Aim for the Freedom Sweet Spot.
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