Cottman Transmission Systems Inc. in Ft. Washington, Pennsylvania, has found a unique way to inspire franchisor-franchisee relationships. For the past 10 years, the home office staff at Cottman has thrown on the saddle bags, hooked up with willing franchise owners and headed off into the wild blue yonder on a motorcycle trip.
Part of an outbound experience that's different each year, the trip covers several thousand miles during the course of a week or more, with activities that have included whitewater canoeing and visiting hot springs mineral baths. Participants tend to be from the most successful franchises, which Jim Corkran, co-owner and vice president of operations at Cottman, attributes to their risk-taking personalities. "The folks who join us on these trips are top performers," he says. "We welcome any franchisee, but these highly competitive folks like to do things that are strenuous and a little risky."
Franchisor and franchisees get more out of the trips than just easy riding. "We try to tear down some of the typical franchisor-franchisee barriers and build relationships based on communication and mutual respect," says Corkran. "We do it because it's terrific fun, but there's more to it than that. We treat our franchisees as equals. We enjoy spending time with them."