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Unit Manager: Leadership and Management Skills to be Effective

leadership people planning Apr 16, 2024
Unit Manager Skills

The unit manager position is the most important one in a multi-unit franchise organization because that person is the one that turns the brand that the franchisee invested in, into profitability. 

You can call them store managers or branch managers. Whatever the name, this is the person who leads the unit day in and day out and is responsible for the results of that unit. 

  • That’s why how well those men and women are trained will determine the profitability that unit will deliver.

In this blog post, we’ll go over the two big jobs that these leaders have within the franchise unit: on the one hand, to execute the brand systems and also, to execute the business management systems. 

This requires a lot of leadership and management skills so they can truly lead the teams that work for them in the unit, and they can achieve the expected business results

Let’s break down each one of these big jobs the unit managers have, so you know how to train these leaders and you can have the profitability you desire.

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Execute the Brand Systems

What are the brand systems? Any franchise organization has a creator, an innovator, a founder, who took the time and money to develop a brand and turn it into a proven, successful, and sustainable business where customers are willing to give money in exchange for their service or product. 

These founders created brand systems to function as a franchises. These systems are:

  1. The product or service: the one that customers are willing to give money for.
  2. The service procedures and processes: like how do you deliver that product to the customer. For example, if you operate a food brand, you might deliver through a drive-thru, at the counter, or you focus only on delivery. Maybe the model offers these three procedures. 
  3. The image: it involves not just the name and the logo, but everything that you see, touch, and smell within the brand. Continuing with the prior example, this would imply:
    - How do the building and the dining room look like?
    - How are the chairs and tables?
    - What uniforms are the employees wearing?
    - How are the vehicles in which you deliver the food?
    - Is there a specific smell the customers relate to the brand (e.g. popcorn or french fries)?

    Those elements are also part of the brand that these franchise owners have created as part of the brand. 
  4. The marketing: whatever way the franchise communicates to consumers that it exists and promotes not only brand awareness but even motivates people to come and buy products from them.

Going back to the unit manager, the first job of this leader is executing these brand systems with a high level of excellence through the team that works for them. 

  • That means that the unit manager's responsibility is to execute the product, the service, the image, and the marketing that the franchisor provides. 

This will allow you to have consumers give you their money in exchange for the product, which will bring revenue to the business

So, remember: a brand is a way to get revenue for your business.

MiniTip: How to Achieve Excellence in Brand Execution


Execute the Business Systems

The second big job the unit manager has is the execution of the business management systems. These are the systems that will turn the revenue into profit, controlling the cost of the business.

  • Beware: no franchisor can guarantee profitability.

The reason for that is they have no control over how you manage your business as a franchisee. They have control over the brand systems, which bring you revenue. But not on how you (or should I say, your unit manager) run and operate the business.

These business systems include:

  1. Leadership: This refers to how to lead the team and inspire them to execute both the business and the brand systems.
  2. Staffing: What are the policies and procedures for you to hire and retain great team members? At the end of the day, these people are going to be the ones who will execute all the systems and processes.
  3. Selling: This implies how the team members are selling and capturing the revenue that's coming in.
  4. Profit: This means controlling the controllables so that the profitability of the unit is maximized.

In order to take the revenue that comes from the brand and turn it into profit, the unit managers have to execute these four business systems with a high level of excellence.

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Who Provides Those Systems?

If you are in a franchise organization, the brand systems, tools, and training will be provided by the franchisor. That means that when you invest in a franchise, this franchisor will give you training, materials, and tools to duplicate the brand systems.

You have to take those tools and use them to train your unit managers, who then will use that knowledge to inspire the team to duplicate the brand day in and day out.

As for the business systems to turn the revenue into profit, the tools and the training materials for your managers and your leaders are your responsibility as a franchisee and business owner. 

The franchisor does not provide the tools and resources for your business management systems because of two reasons:

  1. They would have to charge you a lot more money for your franchise if they were to give you a business management degree in franchise management
  2. Joint employee liability

That is why as a business owner, you need to develop those business systems to train your unit managers on how to be great leaders, inspire their teams, and retain them for the long term.

Keep learning: How Can Franchisors Help Franchisees?


I know you may not have the skills, knowledge, ability, or time to train your unit managers in these skills. However, if you are not training them, you are not giving them the tools they need to manage your business and give you the profitability that you want and deserve out of your unit. 

If that’s your case, I have good news for you: you are not alone! The American Franchise Academy can help you!

Explore our unit management training programs, designed specifically to help franchisees in the development of their unit leaders, by giving them the tools, knowledge, leadership, and management skills they need to be successful. 

If you like to learn more about the program, click here!

I hope that this gave you clear guidance on the things you need to train your unit managers so they can be successful and help you achieve your business and financial goals.


  • What are you doing to develop your unit managers?
  • Are your unit managers able to turn the revenue into profit?
  • How well-developed are your business management systems?
  • What can you do to have a higher level of execution in your business?