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Why Franchisors Should Constantly Evaluate Their Systems: A Lesson from the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team


For the U.S. women’s soccer team, their third World Cup championship was sixteen years in the making.  After a heartbreaking defeat to Japan in penalty kicks in 2011, the U.S. team seemed more poised than ever to return to the finals and entered the tournament ranked second in the world.  However, the U.S. had a slow start during the tournament and just didn’t seem to be firing on all cylinders so the head coach, Jill Ellis, made a formation change ahead of the game against Germany, the top ranked team.  The new formation shifted another player to the midfield and gave the U.S. more ability to control the field and the tempo of the game.  The change, along with a bit of luck, helped the U.S. secure a spot in the championship game and allowed attacking midfielder, Carli Loyd, to emerge as the top player of the tournament and lead the U.S. to its third World Cup Championship.

Changing the formation and lineup in the middle of the tournament was a risky move by Coach Ellis, but she recognized the problem and was willing to do what was necessary to solve it.  Similarly, franchisors shouldn’t be afraid to change the system.  For franchises, the system is the backbone of the operation and provides guidance as to how everything should be run in an effort to ensure uniformity, brand recognition and smooth operation.  As such, it can be difficult for franchisors to implement changes to a long-standing system and it can be difficult for franchisees to accept the changes.  However, it is necessary for the system to constantly evolve to maintain success as the franchise grows and markets and trends change.

The franchisor should evaluate the system and operations regularly to identify areas that can be made more efficient and communicate with the franchisees to get their input on the current system and in what ways it can be improved upon.  From there, the franchisor should make a plan to carry out the change and provide plenty of notice and time for the franchisees to implement it.  Making sure everyone is on the same page is important for a positive transition and a rewarding result.  This was key for Coach Ellis in changing the formation for the U.S. and deciding to play Abby Wambach, a veteran in her fourth World Cup, from the bench; Coach Ellis made sure Wambach understood they were all aiming for the same goal and Wambach reveled in her role as a leader from the sideline.  Like Coach Ellis, franchisors should be willing to make changes to the system when it is necessary in order to reap the possible rewards associated with the changes.