THE THOUGHTFUL ENTREPRENEUR PODCAST
Are you considering starting a franchise or taking your existing franchise to the next level? If so, you may consider working with Laura Darrell, a franchisee consultant, and people strategist with years of experience in the industry.
Laura emphasized the importance of leadership in franchise success. She believes that leadership is the “magic sauce” that sets great businesses apart from the rest. Laura works with both franchisors and franchisees to bridge the gap between the two and ensure better collaboration. She encourages businesses to prioritize leadership skills when vetting potential franchisees.
Laura also offers leadership training and people strategy consulting to help businesses thrive, especially after the “Great Resignation” caused by COVID-19. She believes that companies prioritizing their people and building a great culture will be more successful in the long run.
If you want to work with Laura, visit her website, lauradarrellleadership.com. Remember, building a successful franchise takes time and effort, but you can achieve success beyond your wildest dreams with exemplary leadership skills and a focus on your people.
About Laura Darell:
Laura is a highly accomplished executive with over 25 years of leadership experience in the franchised space. She has a proven track record of enhancing organizational health, fostering talent development, and building solid relationships with key stakeholders. Laura specializes in various areas, including collaborative relationship building between franchisees and franchisors, designing and implementing adult learning training programs, and leading across generational boundaries, with a specific focus on Generation Z. She excels in developing emotional intelligence among mid and senior-level leaders, managing communication and conflict, and employing systems thinking for evaluation and action research.
Laura is also skilled in designing internal talent development programs, leading organizational change, and implementing strategic business planning. Her expertise and passion make her a valuable leadership and corporate development asset.
About Laura Darrell Leadership Consulting:
Laura Darrell Leadership Consulting specializes in fostering better franchisor-franchisee relationships. With 25 years of leadership experience and a Master's Degree in Organizational Leadership, Laura uses inspirational speaking and strategic planning to improve collaborative leadership practices. She draws from her vast experience with iconic brands to enhance team culture and drive results. The company’s tailored approach aids in developing a motivated, result-driven environment.
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Josh (00:00:05) - Hey there, thoughtful listener. Would you like consistent and predictable sales activity with no spam and no ads? I'll teach you step by step how to do this, particularly if you're an agency owner, consultant coach, or B2B service provider. What I teach has worked for me for more than 15 years and has helped me create more than 10 million in revenue. Just head to up my influence.com and watch my free class on how to create endless high ticket sales appointments. You can even chat with me live, and I'll see and reply to your messages. Also, don't forget, the Thoughtful Entrepreneur is always looking for guests. Go to up my influence.com and click on podcast. We'd love to have you with us right now. It's Laura Darrell. Laura, you are a franchisee consultant. You're a people strategist, and you are the founder of Laura Darrell Leadership Consulting. And your website is laura darrell leadership.com. Laura, thank you so much for joining us.
Laura (00:01:14) - Oh my gosh, it's my pleasure, Josh. I'm so happy to be here today. Thanks for having me on
Josh (00:01:19) - In beautiful Mexico City. I might add beautiful weather. We were talking about that. Very
Laura (00:01:24) - True.
Josh (00:01:25) - Um, yeah, so tell me about your work today and you know, as a leadership consultant, like maybe who you specifically work with. Oh, I should also point out, you've written at least three books that I see. Principle of franchisee success, the Great Resignation, and the Promotability Gap, which we'll talk about those as well later. Sure. But, please share a kind of an overview of like who you're working and what you do today.
Laura (00:01:51) - Yeah, so franchisee leadership is really where my heart lies. I get a lot of purpose from helping those kind of two different stakeholder group groups, so franchisors and those that work for the franchisor and franchisees. Like how do you get those two groups together to collaborate to really enhance their, their relationship and, and drive better business results for both. So that's kind of where I spent my entire career. I spent 10 years working in operations for large multi-unit franchisee groups, and then I spent 10 years headed up the operations and training and systems for Boston Pizza restaurant chain in Canada. And then I also, when I did my, master's degree in leadership, I chose a thesis that was really focused in the franchisee world. So my thesis was about, you know, how do you get franchisees and franchisors to enhance their levels of collaboration to drive better business results at the business unit level?
Laura (00:02:45) - Yeah. Knowing that that's gonna lead to system success for franchisors at the same time. So that's where I hang my hat these days. I really do a lot of work in that space. Speaking engagements. I'm heading down to the franchise expo in New York in a couple of weeks to do a few keynotes for those guys, but really anywhere that I can lean in, in that industry to just help bring those groups together to just, you know, give them the skills and the coaching and the leadership training they need to understand what life is like from each of their perspectives. We find great results when we, when we take that approach. So that's kind of my jam these days.
Josh (00:03:23) - Yeah, yeah. Well, this is fascinating. You know, we have a few clients that are franchise consultants, you know, oftentimes helping people that are interested in franchises get connected with the right opportunities. Sure. You know, where, where you wanna look for a good fit. What are you, what are your skills? You know, what's your network like, you know, what's your background? And see if we can't use that to help get you into something that's gonna be a really good fit for you personality wise. But I was just thinking about this, I don't know how many franchisors would have, you know, that they would, you know, unlike when you're hiring for a job, you know, you wanna assess soft skills, you wanna assess, you know, their leadership ability. And I don't know if that's really a criteria that franchisors typically have with franchisees. Normally they're like, Hey, you wanna give us money? You wanna start Cool. Hey, jump on in. But I'm thinking, you know, boy, you could have a really broad spectrum of leadership background and skills coming into this, and some people really might have a lot of not great ideas. And so if you're only relying on this, you know, maybe like a, a quick leadership bootcamp that the franchisor might provide for you, that's maybe not gonna be enough for you to be successful with this growing team that you're gonna need to manage.
Laura (00:04:42) - Yeah. It's a great point. And I think, you know, first I'll comment that, yeah, like, there's a lot of franchisors out there that are like, you have a pulse, you have good net worth, like, we're gonna bring you into the system. And I would say, oh my goodness, anybody that is considering a franchise opportunity or meeting with different franchisors right now, um, that's absolutely one of the questions you wanna ask them. Like, how do you vet new franchisees coming into the system? How do you protect the brand knowing that you're gonna bring people into the system that are gonna follow the standards, they have the right soft skills. So that, that's a huge question that I think everybody should ask if they're in the process of looking at franchises. I touch on that in my book, the Principles of Franchisee Success, each chapter has like, here's five questions you need to ask when you're going in to meet with franchisors, because, you know, it's not just about a pulse and net worth.
Laura (00:05:36) - Like, it's about how do they manage their marketing fund? How do they manage supplier rebates? How do they manage franchisees that don't follow the systems and are providing a really poor guest experience? So yeah, those things are absolutely vital. And, but at the same time, I think, you know, franchisors need to do a bit of a better job. And when they're hiring staff to work, you know, at the franchisor's head office, they need to understand that franchisees are different. Like they're entrepreneurs, they have a higher appetite for risk, they think about things really differently. And you can't build relationships with them without understanding those fundamental differences. Whereas folks that work as an employee for the franchisor, well, they're quite risk adverse. The corporate career is not built on like taking risk and not being successful in your job. So I think that if franchisors just paid a little bit more attention to just the, the, the fundamental differences between franchisees and franchisors, and you really taught your staff, you know, how to interact, how to collaborate a little bit better, I've just seen such profound results when each of those groups understands that, Hey, you know what, we're a little bit different, but we're in an interdependent system.
Laura (00:06:49) - We need each other. You need franchisees, franchisors need the strong system. So yeah, it's a really interesting subject.
Josh (00:06:59) - Laura, are you primarily then working with companies or brands that are already, like, they, they are looking for franchisees, like they're expanding or maybe they're pre, you know, like when they're kind of preparing. So let's say they've got a number of locations, they're like, I think we have a model for franchise, you know, for franchise expansion model here. You know, and I was just thinking about this, like, you know, you think about everything that you wanna put into a system that you can sell, right? And so it's like, here's how to run the register. Here's how to do your marketing, here's how to hire, you know, all of these things. But I wonder how many of those franchisors or potential franchisors have really well done, documented leadership when in fact that is just gonna be so critical for their success. A great leader makes for a great team and honestly, you know, you could have old hard skills and like how to bake the cookies or whatever the franchise is.
Josh (00:08:00) - But that is not going to, if you're, if you have leadership issues or you keep, you know, you keep going rogue or whatever, right? So the franchisor doesn't have the leadership, Culture to ensure that their franchisees are doing what they should be doing. That's step one. And then you also, you wanna make sure that, you know, these franchisees have the leadership skills and their curriculum to study so that they could be successful. What a vital part if they don't have this dialed in, you have a great product. Laura, I'm just thinking about, I don't know how innate that is.
Laura (00:08:38) - Yeah, well, you're right. It's absolutely critical to your point. Like, anybody can make a burger, you can train somebody to bake the cookies. All those things are, they're task related. And I believe you can easily train those things to people. But leadership is like, it's the magic sauce. Yeah. It's the thing that takes a good business and turns it into an outstanding business. And we're at this really interesting moment where we've got, gen Z is really the big, push into the workforce, especially in franchises. Like if you have a restaurant franchise or a retail franchise, chances are you've got a ton of Gen Z working for you. And they require a really different leadership style than certainly, you know, the millennials, the Gen Xers. And so I do a lot of work building content for multi large multi-unit franchisees on how do you, number one, what does the curriculum look like from a leadership perspective, coaching leadership, appreciative leadership, situational leadership, giving them the tools so that they can engage these kids in really meaningful ways that speaks to them, that makes them want to be a part of this team.
Laura (00:09:44) - Then you have all kinds of benefits. Obviously retention is strong, turnover is low. All those things are hidden costs on the p and l leads to better unit economics. So I do a lot of the work with multi-unit franchisors on helping them build that curriculum, and then strategic people planning to make sure they've got all the right leaders and all the right roles to help them kind of execute their business model. But then with franchisors, my work is mostly centered on speaking with the employees of franchisors and really helping them understand what franchisees are like, what makes them tick, what leadership styles are really impactful for your, like, unit operations people, your regional managers, your directors of operations, how do you meet your franchisee in a place where you guys can have really productive, really collaborative conversation that's gonna help them with their business and not have some of those relationships that are super common in the franchise world. Like, oh, my regional managers coming today and I'm just gonna grin and bear it and get through the visit. And that's not high value, that's not high impact or high reward. And franchisors miss a ton of opportunity when those relationships aren't really set out from the outset to thrive.
Josh (00:11:00) - Yeah. What percentage of your work is with you know, exist? Like they've, they've already got franchisees they're already down the road and they're like, we have a little bit of an issue. Like, we're experiencing, like our franchisees are complaining that they're turn Well, I mean, they're just, listen, there are just, you know, some trends over the past year or so, pass over the past few years where if you are not adapting to meet. I would say some of the, what I would call requirements in the job market today and what employees are expecting in a workplace if you're not adapting and, and staying ahead of the ball on that, you're gonna be in a world hurt. Getting back to my original question, are you primarily working with existing, franchisors, or do you, are you often, I hope brought in early before they start making all the mistakes?
Laura (00:11:53) - Oh, well, I wish it was the latter, my friend. I really do. But I think mostly, some of the work that I've done now and done in the past is really trying to bridge that gap from a relationship that's gone a little bit sideways and it's never too late. I think that cuz it's like a marriage, like when you buy into a franchise, you are really in, you know, unless you decide to sell and get outta the business, there's a lot of vetted interest in, or vested interest in, in making that relationship work. So most of my work is about just bringing those two groups closer together. And from a, from a people strategist perspective, you know, really helping franchisors go through their org chart, go through their, their senior leaders and, you know, asking the questions like, is this person franchisee centric? Do they believe that the franchisee is an essential ingredient to making this brand, this system, this relationship work? Because if they're not, and they treat the franchisee as more of an employee, that's gonna be really difficult for both parties, it's gonna be really difficult.
Josh (00:13:00) - Yeah. No, that's not why I started business to be treated like an employee. .
Laura (00:13:05) - Well, no entrepreneur goes into business to be treated that way. So I think that that's oftentimes where it goes a little bit sideways. You have folks at the franchisor that say, well, you signed an agreement and you're just gonna do what, what we tell you to do. Okay. Sorry. But like that autocratic leadership style that mm-hmm. that went out of fashion many, many moons ago. And we need to really up our leadership game if that's what's happening.
Josh (00:13:30) - Yeah. What are some trends that you've been noticing over the past year that, you know, let's say someone's listening to us or a FraNChiS or franchisee, and some things that you're, you know, from your vantage point, obviously you get to work with a lot of leaders, you get to work, you know, see a lot of what's going on. What are some of those maybe more market driven trends or just, you know, maybe it's because of technology, maybe it's because of, you know, how things are, you know, adapting, but some, maybe some broader things that you've been seeing that, you know, folks might go, oh, good, we're not alone, .
Laura (00:14:01) - Yes, I'd love that question. I think, you know, the most disruptive thing to happen in the world of work, the last, oh my gosh, I wouldn't even put a timeframe on it, but Covid 19 really just changed everything Yeah. For everybody. I don't think anybody came out of that time unscathed. And my first book, the Great Resignation, was really geared at helping people understand what was happening in the workplace at that time, because people were resigning in droves like they never have before. And what I think is really interesting is that a lot of people blamed that solely on, well, it was c o d and people went to work from home, and now they didn't wanna go back to the office. Or, you know, things changed for them. Sure, absolutely. Some of that is definitely true, but I think ring what rings true the most is that people don't want to be treated like a number.
Laura (00:14:51) - They wanna be appreciated. They wanna be recognized for the work that they do. They wanna be coached and developed. They wanna know that they have a future at your organization that there's a home for them there that somebody cares about them and their development and you know, what their quality of life is like inside and outside of work. And I think that the two big trends that I've really seen the best of the best organizations wrap their arms around is that leaders today, in any organization, whether it's franchise or not, it doesn't matter. Your leaders need to be really strong at the coaching leadership style and the appreciative leadership style because if you double down on, you know, getting some extra training for your leaders in those two areas, yeah. Number one, you're going to see miles of enhancements with your culture because people are gonna feel appreciated and recognized and cared about.
Laura (00:15:47) - And you're gonna see lots of homegrown talent coming out of your organization because you're investing in people's coaching and you're putting them on a development plan or a training plan, investing in their skills so that when you get to those kind of people's strategy meetings, all of a sudden it's like, well wait, now we've got like half a dozen people on bench because we've been investing ourselves into them. And it makes people stay, like, you don't have to take my word for it, like McKinsey, all the big boys, they've done all the studies in this area. People wanna be appreciated. Yeah. And they wanna be developed and co coached. And I think yeah, those that really double down on those two leadership styles for their leaders, they're gonna see huge gains from that.
Josh (00:16:28) - Yeah. boy, Laura, there's so many other questions I wish I had time to ask you about, but I wanna, you know, for someone that's listener to our podcast, and again, maybe they've done some searching and they came across this episode, now they're hearing a great conversation with you and they're ready for something like the next step in, you know, kind of learning about, you know, how to work with you, who should be reaching out and work with you. Yeah. Do you mind maybe just talking about like, what does it actually look like when you're engaging?
Laura (00:16:57) - Yeah, that's a great question. I think, for the most part, people reach out, in two kind of streams. The first is to have me come and, you know, speak with leaders on their team, whether that's senior leaders, they're middle managers, really to invest in that coaching leadership style and that appreciate leadership style. So I have a number of two day sessions, one day sessions. It really depends on the organization. but that's, that's the first thing. Like if you have challenges attracting talent, keeping talent, if you feel like you're getting feedback that the culture in your organization isn't great and you're seeing people leave, that would be one reason to reach out, to reach out with me so that I could work with the leaders on your team and really help them in those two specific leadership styles. And then I think the other reason people, reach out to me, me is, is really around people strategy.
Laura (00:17:51) - And can you take a look at our org chart and can you take a look at how we've set up, you know, span for our regional managers, look at these, this operation structure, this training structure, really help them make sure they've got the right people in the right seats. And then that usually leads to some really great conversation about, so now that we've got the right, the right roadmap, let's talk about the people who do you have in these seats? We go through some really detailed kind of ranking of the roster so that we can get to the heart of like, what development does your team need? What's gonna take you from a good organization to a great organization? So those are kind of the two streams that folks usually reach out about.
Josh (00:18:30) - Yeah, your website is laura darrell leadership.com. And, and to our friend that's listening to our conversation, really easy, just click around, find where you can get to show notes. We've got a direct link, Laura, your website. UI also wanna make sure that people know about your books because, well, you've written the book, the Principles of Franchisee Success, apply them and Take control of your Business Results. That's on Amazon also, your, other book, the Great Resignation, how Coaching and Appreciative Leadership Can Help You Win The War for Talent. And then finally, the Promotability Gap. The real reasons why you're not advancing in your career and what to do about it. Laura, quite a bill of goods. This has been fantastic. Thank you so much for this conversation. Anything else that we missed in terms of like what people should do next?
Laura (00:19:21) - No, I think that the best advice I could say is just start from a place of caring about your people and work out from there. Because if you really care about the folks that work in your organization and you wanna build this amazing culture, if you start from there, the rest is just details. Reach out to people that can help you reach out to me, reach out to others in the industry. My whole purpose is just, you know, great leadership is gonna help people in all aspects of their life. So if you start from a place of caring about your people, it's pretty hard to go wrong from there.
Josh (00:19:52) - I love it. Laura Darrell, again, thank you so much for joining us. Franchisee consultant, people strategist and founder of Laura Darrell Leadership Consulting. Laura, thank you so much for joining us.
Laura (00:20:02) - My pleasure. Thanks so much, Josh. Take care.
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