Trust is the foundation of all successful relationships. It takes time and hard work, but it’s worth it in the end. Trust starts with open and honest communication between you and franchisees. Here are a few tips to help jumpstart your relationship building.
COMMUNICATE OPENLY AND HONESTLY
Open communication is vital to running a successful franchise system and building positive relationships with your franchisees.
Consider the position of your franchisees. They have bought into your business model, likely paying tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars to become a part of your brand. On top of that, most are paying a monthly royalty fee.
And yes, this is the cost of doing business. Your franchisees wouldn’t invest in your brand if they didn’t think you were offering a fair arrangement, but it can also create a stressful situation. With any financial investment, there is a pressure to yield results – no matter how calculated it may be.
At the end of the day, your franchisees want to feel supported. As simple as it may sound, one of the best ways you can do this is with proactive, consistent communication.
Make sure to be a good listener, too. Healthy communication is a two-way street. Let your franchisees voice opinions, concerns and ideas.
With your focus on growing the brand, it’s easy to miss opportunities that your franchisees will see from working directly with consumers every day. Listen to them and not only will they feel heard, but you’ll see brand growth as well. Here are a few ways to do this:
- Do your best to make yourself available to your franchisees whenever they call.
- Institute an open-door policy. Make sure your franchisees know they can come to you when they need help.
- Set up a dedicated franchisee support line (with a real person at the other end). This is a great way to provide immediate information.
- Establish a known standard response time for franchisee questions (we suggest the same business day if you can).
- Actively call on your franchisees to check-in and see how else you can support them (daily or weekly). No matter the size of your network, this is an important practice to start. This will help demonstrate accountability and leadership.
- Appoint a single person as your communications manager. This will help establish a consistent tone and accurate information dissemination.
MAKE COMMUNICATION OFFICIAL: START A FAC
A Franchise Advisory Council, or FAC, is a committee of appointed or elected franchisee representatives who provide you with input and insight on how to improve the system. Most successful franchise systems have an active advisory council. If you don’t have a FAC already in place, we suggest setting one up as soon as possible.
The role of the FAC is to provide an open dialogue between the franchisor and its franchisees. FAC members should consider themselves as a representative body of the entire franchise system and consider the issues that would have substantial impacts on many of their fellow franchisees. To effectively serve in this function, FAC members should be organized, focused and well-connected to other franchisees.
It’s typical for a FAC to convene two to four times per year discussing topics such as marketing strategy, new products or services, industry developments, consumer behavior trends, organization operational challenges and new growth ideas.