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the_freedom_franchise_gets_smarter_as_it_evolves.jpgThe Freedom Franchise concept is the keystone of the Great Harvest franchise. Like all great ideas, it evolves.

What does the Freedom Franchise mean today? Very broadly, it means that we should all be able to adapt and create for local needs. We should be doing things to advance the Great Harvest brand through local innovation. Finding new and better ways of doing things, and exciting new things to make and do.

We should always be meeting local needs — but not doing stuff just to do it. Being different just to be different is normally misguided energy. Being different because we may have a better answer, though, is good karma.

The concept of freedom in the Freedom Franchise has really evolved over the years. Originally, it was pretty much: "If I want to sell car tires along with my Honey Whole Wheat, I can.” That lead us to: “Hey, freedom includes the freedom to fail.” Today’s version of freedom, which we are all seeing, is that freedom isn’t truly free. There are constraints on it because we’re getting smarter about it. In business, choices matter and good ones need to be made.

The best way to look at this, from a Great Harvest perspective, is that we need to be making decisions that greatly impact local customers at the local level. And we need to be making decisions that impact all of us at a more national level.

What the evolution of the Freedom Franchise means to bakery cafe owners:

For things that solely impact a single store, franchise owners need to be free to make the decisions that impact only them. Those decisions would be about things like: Hours. Prices. Menu.

The things that impact all of us as a franchise need to be made at a more national level. Things like: Standards. Systems. Product names. Logos.

Then there are things that fall somewhere in the middle, where there is room for choice, but also with some limits on the options. 

The point is that freedom is a right that must be exercised judiciously. Done right, it is one of the most empowering forces in business.

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Read more about the evolution of the Freedom Franchise:

I am Mike Ferretti, the Chairman and CEO of Great Harvest. But, I am also a dad who grew up in a world with old fashioned business ethics. Before Great Harvest, I thought those days and companies were gone. Luckily, I now get to work with a group with a strong moral compass that genuinely lives "Give generously to others" and "Run fast to serve customers." And we do it with more than just lip service in a way that allows us to set an example for others. I am proud that my kids are proud of what I do for a living.