global franchise newsletter sign up graphic

Stay in the know and receive the latest international franchising news, insight and investment opportunities

close catfish

How to successfully evolve in an ever-changing world

How to successfully evolve in an ever-changing world

Robert Stidham, founder and CEO of Summa Franchise Consulting and founder of Franchise Dynamics on the importance of reinvention.

Keep up to date with the latest Global Franchise News sent straight to your inbox. Sign up here.

Content Partnership*

As we watch the franchise industry and pandemic evolve around the globe, it’s clear that we are not “going back to what was” but rather we are faced with the challenge of change, of trying to determine what the next normal is going to be.

In our consulting practice, a meaningful part of our work is done with franchise organizations that are struggling with this new paradigm. With franchisors of all types and sizes, it is clearer than ever that the biggest threat to their future organizational success is coming from an internal inability to adapt or change to a new business reality.

Change or be left behind

The business landscape is littered with companies that failed to evolve. This is particularly visible in the retail category where long-term, globally successful brands simply did not evolve to changes in consumer tastes, buying habits, and technology.

One of the reasons that so many retail stores are struggling or failing is that people aren’t shopping the way they used to do. Consumers are no longer spending the afternoon at the mall. Now, consumers often prefer to shop at home. Shopping isn’t a pastime like it used to be – it’s more transactional. This change is generational, economic, technological, and practical.

So how do organizations address this problem? Generally, a management team isn’t going to solely solve these challenges. Remember, the mindset of management is to maintain the status quo.

“No long-term franchise company is in exactly the same business it was when it first started”

Change is difficult. Managers are generally focused on tasks and creating stability within their organizations. They are not there to create change. Unfortunately, we often see management as an impediment in an environment of change.

Therefore, the key to successful change appears to be driven by a combination of vision, planning, and transformational leadership.

Innovation is more than a buzzword

Vision, in part, is defined as: the act or power of imagination, a mode of seeing or conceiving and unusual discernment or foresight. It is the ability to look forward in time to put aside biases, old beliefs, and preconceived notions to honestly look at the business you have, its strengths, weaknesses, and challenges, and to see where the organization will need to go into the future.

Transformational leadership demonstrates the ability to look beyond maintaining the stable conditions that exist within a company, and instead thoughtfully consider the broadest business landscape, new opportunities, and risks or threats to developing a new strategy. It’s important to recognize that change is difficult for people and that this opportunity also carries individual, team, and cultural risks to the enterprise.

No long-term franchise company is in exactly the same business it was when it first started – whether 10 years ago or 50 years ago.

Consider McDonald’s, for example. Today it is the world’s largest restaurant chain by revenue, serving over 69 million customers daily in over 100 countries across 37,855 outlets around the world.

Although McDonald’s is best known for its hamburgers, cheeseburgers and French fries, today they feature salads, chicken products, breakfast items, wraps, and desserts. Its McCafe brand introduced consumers to a competitive coffee concept to rival other well-known QSR chains who had long held pole position as purveyors of affordable, decent and accessible beverages and baked goods. In response to changing consumer tastes and perceived unhealthiness of its food, the company introduced salads, fish, smoothies, and even fruit to its menu.

Continuous innovation created new opportunities for the brand and kept it relevant. The company owned a majority stake in Chipotle Mexican Grill until October 2006, when McDonald’s fully divested from Chipotle. Until December 2003, it also owned Donatos Pizza along with a small share of Aroma Café from 1999 to 2001. In 2007, McDonald’s sold its position in Boston Market to Sun Capital Partners.

In the current pandemic, McDonald’s has once again reinvented its business, by shutting dining rooms in many locations and focusing on its drive-through capability and on-demand delivery concept. It has been able to develop an existing structure to sustain franchisee revenue and profits, through this difficult time.

An invaluable checklist

It’s important to recognize most franchise companies don’t have the resources of a McDonald’s. However, in our experience, most franchisors do have capable leadership who understand their business well. That team and your franchisees become your most valuable resource in reinventing your franchise offering and ultimately, your franchise business.

“Reinvention, by definition, is required periodically for every organization to continue to survive and grow”

While McDonald’s has certainly made mistakes in change strategy (does anyone else remember the ‘Hula Burger’?), it has built an organization that understands the power of reinvention.

From both our consulting work and our research, we’ve identified factors that transformational leadership needs to be very specifically focused upon, including:

• Consider your relevancy within your category. Is what you do meaningful and valuable to all of your franchisees and their customers?

• Reconsider what advantages you bring to your customers, including your franchisees. What could you be doing to increase value for all stakeholders?

• Are you offering the right services or products that your franchisees’ customers want to buy?

• Do you have the right people, including franchisees, within your company?

• How do you balance short-term change with long-term thinking?

• Have you provided an opportunity for leadership to reimagine the business?

• Are you prepared for the challenges that lie ahead?

• Can you build an effective plan for the future?

• What are your true measures for success?

Finally, all franchise businesses, even the most successful, can run out of opportunity to grow, if they don’t change.

Companies that fail to periodically reinvent themselves are not necessarily poor at fixing what’s broken. More often than not, they simply wait too long before addressing the issues within their company and franchise system. They don’t spend nearly enough energy creating a better foundation for the future and planning for the growth of their business. Unfortunately, as a result, they are less effective at implementing change and are caught struggling when their core business begins to deteriorate.

Reinvention, by definition, is required periodically for every organization to continue to survive and grow. This is a difficult task. It’s also what separates high-performing organizations from those who don’t survive. However, like any change, it can feel overwhelming to tackle the processes required to discover, develop, plan, and implement change, all while keeping the lights on and pivoting in this new normal.

Let us know how we can help.


Main HQ: Arizona, U.S.A.


you may be interested in

franchise directory

  • TaxAssist Accountants

    Business & Professional Services, Financial Services, <100K, Featured

  • Cafe2U

    Food & Catering, Coffee, Take-away, <100K, Featured

  • 800 Pizza

    Food & Catering, Fastfood, Pizza, Take-away, Featured

view more
Connect with Linkedin Logo
Global White Logo Click Here
Close button


Any of the information we collect from you may be used in one of the following ways: To personalize your experience (your information helps us to better respond to your individual needs) To improve our website (we continually strive to improve our website offerings based on the information and feedback we receive from you) To improve customer service (your information helps us to more effectively respond to your customer service requests and support needs) To process transactions your information, whether public or private, will not be sold, exchanged, transferred, or given to any other company for any reason whatsoever, without your consent, other than for the express purpose of delivering the purchased product or service requested. To administer a contest, promotion, survey or other site feature To send periodic emails The email address you provide for order processing, will only be used to send you information and updates pertaining to your order. Note: If at any time you would like to unsubscribe from receiving future emails, we include detailed unsubscribe instructions at the bottom of each email.


We implement a variety of security measures to maintain the safety of your personal information when you place an order or enter, submit, or access your personal information We offer the use of a secure server. All supplied sensitive/credit information is transmitted via Secure Socket Layer (SSL) technology and then encrypted into our Payment gateway providers database only to be accessible by those authorized with special access rights to such systems, and are required to keep the information confidential. After a transaction, your private information (credit cards, social security numbers, financials, etc.) will not be stored on our servers.


Yes (Cookies are small files that a site or its service provider transfers to your computers hard drive through your Web browser (if you allow) that enables the sites or service providers systems to recognize your browser and capture and remember certain information. We use cookies to help us remember and process the items in your shopping cart, understand and save your preferences for future visits, keep track of advertisements and compile aggregate data about site traffic and site interaction so that we can offer better site experiences and tools in the future. We may contract with third-party service providers to assist us in better understanding our site visitors. These service providers are not permitted to use the information collected on our behalf except to help us conduct and improve our business.


We do not sell, trade, or otherwise transfer to outside parties your personally identifiable information. This does not include trusted third parties who assist us in operating our website, conducting our business, or servicing you, so long as those parties agree to keep this information confidential. We may also release your information when we believe release is appropriate to comply with the law, enforce our site policies, or protect ours or others rights, property, or safety. However, non-personally identifiable visitor information may be provided to other parties for marketing, advertising, or other uses.


Occasionally, at our discretion, we may include or offer third party products or services on our website. These third party sites have separate and independent privacy policies. We therefore have no responsibility or liability for the content and activities of these linked sites. Nonetheless, we seek to protect the integrity of our site and welcome any feedback about these sites.


We are in compliance with the requirements of COPPA (Childrens Online Privacy Protection Act), we do not collect any information from anyone under 13 years of age. Our website, products and services are all directed to people who are at least 13 years old or older.


This online privacy policy applies only to information collected through our website and not to information collected offline.


Please also visit our Terms and Conditions section establishing the use, disclaimers, and limitations of liability governing the use of our website at


By using our site, you consent to our online privacy policy.


If we decide to change our privacy policy, we will post those changes on this page


If there are any questions regarding this privacy policy you may contact us using the information below. All correspondence relating to the Website should be sent to: Global Franchise 21/23 Phoenix Court Hawkins Road Colchester Essex CO2 8JY Email: