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Implementing company culture and promoting it throughout your franchise is key to running a successful system. Tom Spadea sits with franchise experts, Rocco Fiorentino, Raj Bhatt and Stacey Kimmons to discuss company culture, why it matters and how to select the right people for your business.

Meet the Panel

Rocco Fiorentino, CFE

Senior Managing Partner, Primo Hoagies

Connect with Rocco.

Rocco Fiorentino


Raj Bhatt, CFA, CFE

CEO of Woops

Connect with Raj.

Raj Bhatt


Stacey Kimmins, CFE

Owner and President of FUN BUS

Connect with Stacey.

stacey kimmins

Main Points

[3:00-6:34] Vetting Franchisees

We all struggle when it comes to finding the right people for the job. Rocco remarks, “It’s like a fine bottle of scotch.” You don’t need people that you necessarily connect with on a personal level right away, it’s about their performance. Are your people continuously improving?

“Dining with someone can be a good metric to use to measure character,” Rocco explains. If you take a potential franchisee out to lunch or dinner, “watch their interaction with the staff; are they forgiving and polite or high maintenance and arrogant?” This can be a helpful evaluation tool during the vetting process.

Raj and Stacey discuss why discovery day, a common industry standard that entails a day at the office for a potential franchisee, is beneficial. Raj points out, “It’s not always about the first interaction.” Spending an entire day in an office environment can help you build a relationship and understand how that individual reacts to your culture and particular day-to-day stressors.

[6:48-12:43] So, What is Culture?

It’s different to everyone, but to Stacey it means “a set of similar beliefs that make a system run successfully.”

Rocco adds, “It’s your brand DNA” and Raj states, “It’s understanding the human element in relationships.”

All three recognize that companies are spending more resources on culture in order to retain staff. Raj says, “There needs to be someone to systematically build culture.” When your employees are investing in your vision, it is important that you are maintaining a strong culture and living that every day, if not, your culture can shift quickly.

[12:50-17:31] What Are Some Challenges That Occur When Changing a Culture?  

Raj makes a good point: when your culture is changing, “you have to take an assessment every now and again.” Defining who you are isn’t a one and done thing; as your company grows, so does your staff. “Sometimes good employees are culture-killers.” Checking in from time to time to see your business on a larger scale can help you implement small culture changes, weed out cancerous employees, and remind your team what your franchise system is all about.

Stacey and Rocco agree that effective communication is big part of the pie too. “Some of the greatest ideas come from our franchisees. We would be foolish not to keep those lines of communication open. All of us are so much smarter than one of us.”

[17:32-34:49] The Importance of Strong Leadership & Culture

Raj believes, “Culture starts at the top.” At the end of the day, if you aren’t following the culture you are implementing, then your culture is confusing, and your team won’t follow you.

Stacey talks about the importance of culture discussions early on: “We talk about it at the beginning of training.” All three agree that having training documents where you speak about your culture is a great way to embed that message early on and deter confusion.

Although it weighs heavily on the franchisor to promote and explain the culture, it falls on a potential franchisee to understand if they align with that system’s values. Raj explains, having strong culture helps validate employees. “When you think about your favorite job, it probably wasn’t the one that paid you the most, it was the one where you learned a lot and had a lot of fun with your employees.” Before you sign the FDD, communicate and understand if your needs will be met.

[34:50-45:40] Culture Resources & Tips

Looking for ways to emphasize your culture? Stacey, Raj and Rocco recommend checking out the following culture leaders:

  • Gary Vaynerchuk, founder of VaynerMedia
  • Jamie Jay, founder of Bottleneck Virtual Assistants
  • Chuck Ruyon, CEO of Anytime Fitness

Not only is it a good idea to read up on what other culture motivators are doing, but it’s good to try some new things, like:

  1.  Culture revamps. Identify toxic employees and devise a strategy to teach them. If it’s past that point, understand when it’s time to let them go.
  2. Mix up leadership. Break up the politics by engaging in peer reviews. You can get your franchisees learning and communicating when each are responsible for reviewing one another.

[47:30-50:11] Final Takeaways

Tom wraps up this segment by asking each franchisee for one nugget of truth we can all take away from this discussion.

Rocco: Ask yourself, “Am I doing the best I can?” Make sure to keep an open mind and consistently challenge yourself.

Stacey: “If you are an emerging brand, establish your culture early on and make sure your team reflects that. It’s harder to implement culture into your system later down the road.”

Raj: “Take a weekend to define your culture. Look at your management team and figure out how you can make an impact on each person at the office. You’ll see better growth and performance if you can identify what motivates your staff.”

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