A mission statement is the guiding principles for a franchise or start-up entrepreneur. When you are building a business plan this will be the bumpers on your bowling lane. A well-formed and thought out mission statement ensures that everyone is on the same page and will lead to a satisfying experience as the company grows. One of a 1000 terrible mistakes franchisers and entrepreneurs make is slapping together a meaningless statement just to get it done, cost not having a clear idea who they are or having the focus of a teenage boy at a cheerleading camp
Years ago, a guy I know well was part of a corporation that had just undergone their third corporate turnover in a just a few years. The new leadership came in with much fanfare. They promised massive change and improvement if everyone would buy into their corporate culture. Their culture plan required the memorization of their 20 point mission statement; each point had at least three subcategories resulting in a 67 point mission statement. So who learned the entire statement? Obviously no one, except that one brown nose guy who exists in every company. Not surprisingly, a few years later, after watching their stock drop 30 some odd points, that group was out on their collective butts.
As a franchiser or entrepreneur you have to have a real sense for who you are and what values you want the world to know about you. Sit together and brainstorm a list of core values. On the first pass, everything goes. Don’t limit your thinking to anything, except everything. Then pare it down and press, play again. Whittle it down to as few points as possible that fully capture your company. Then show it to some folk, maybe your group of three from an earlier blog.
In the late 90’s the Washington D.C Dept. of Education was looking for a platform to encourage students to go to school as the coming academic year approached. They came up with a slogan and slapped it on every bus, building, wall and taxi in the city. Proudly displayed in giant murals was the genius slogan, “Education its important.” One slight problem, “its” is grammatically incorrect. Way to promote education. Meanwhile, a giant corporation rolled out the mission statement which mostly contained the phrase “Our operations are aligned around a strategy called the Plan to Succeed, which center on blah, blah, blah.” This statement was created by outside specialists in creating just this kind of thing. Not only is it questionable to have someone other than your team create your mission, you might also want to consider running a grammar check on it before you release it. Hey, if you’re blogging or sending an email, then errors happen and are culturally acceptable, though they should be avoided if possible. However, if you are going to have one statement that represents your entire brand, then clean it up and make sure it’s at least reviewed by a 3rd grader.
Lastly, if you are going to create a mission statement, it better represent what you do and what you are committed to doing. “Bringing the best to everyone we touch.” is a snappy little line. Sounds great; even impressive. One slight problem, it’s meaningless. How would this effect company strategy? Sitting in a meeting, how would this compel your team to act? Heck, what the hell does this company do? Your mission statement needs to compel you to action and tell your story, particularly as an entrepreneur or early franchiser who is trying to attract investment.
It is my belief, probably wrong, that French Fry Heaven took the right steps to avoid at least one of the 1000 terrible mistakes with our mission statement.
“The mission of French Fry Heaven is to serve the Best Fries on Earth, Be everywhere people are hungry, leave you with a smile on your face and make a significant amount of impact on the world.”
We believe we serve the best fries on earth and if that ever comes in question, then we have to keep improving until there is never a question. Be everywhere means we grow in every location possible where people might be hungry and it also means we cannot exclusively grow in any environment in particular. Leaving you with a smile on your face is an easy thing for us to do with an awesome product. However, we have to be vigilant about making this a fun experience for everyone involved from the CEO to the customer to our Taste Buds to anyone that comes in contact with FFH. When we find unhappy customers or stressed employees, we have to figure out a way to get them to smile. Our last phrase is often a throwaway line in typical corporate BS statements, but in the case of French Fry Heaven we built charitable service into our model; franchisee selection process, Taste Bud hiring steps and every part of our business. Yet the beauty of French Fry Heaven is we have a product that truly makes people happy. One taste and someone who was having a bad day will invariably have a better one and spread the positive energy. We live our mission statement every day, and while we are not totally there yet, our direction is set.