Getting It Right With Your Franchisees, Part 2

Note: To read part 1, click here.

Balancing the differences

Franchisors and franchisees will always face the challenge of living harmoniously in two business worlds that are not quite the same. As local small business owners, franchisees must make compromises for the strength of the national network and brand. Likewise, corporate must also be sensitive to the genuine needs of its franchise partners, and not quickly dismiss business challenges that may be unique to their markets. Swiftly addressing issues and creating solutions is the conduit for building franchisee and franchisor satisfaction.

I was shocked years ago when I overheard some corporate employees name-bashing their franchisees, only to discover that their senior executives were participating in the mutinous behavior. I asked the director of franchising if the CEO knew this was going on. In disgust he fired back, "He's the one who started it!" This condescending attitude reared its ugly head a few years later with some costly lawsuits. I wasn't surprised.

Ask owners to rate your performance

Make periodic reality checks to see how you're doing with your partners. Poll your owners annually to find out how your organization scores with your franchisees. If you don't know where you stand with your operators, how can you effectively respond to their needs and interests? Franchise advisory councils, committees, and task forces are invaluable in representing the interests and challenges of your franchisee network. But acting as filters, they don't expose you to the individual voices of your system owners so you can hear exactly what's happening on the franchise streets of San Jose or Brooklyn.

Franchise development surveys are great feedback tools that allow "the masses" to clearly communicate their messages to you. They are easy to develop, administer, and analyze. But beware: Don't ask owners what they think if you aren't going to respond to their input. Surveys can be extensive or limited, depending on what feedback you are seeking from your franchisees.

Rather than automatically using a staff member for your survey, consider hiring an outside firm or qualified individual to conduct the interviews. An outside firm builds credibility with your franchisees and can be more objective in gathering information. Their third-party relationship usually makes owners more comfortable in expressing what they really think about the franchise. Also, the project will be completed much faster, rather than taking a backseat to your staff's more pressing daily activities.

It's all about exceeding expectations

Franchise buyers get excited by franchise organizations that listen to their customers and align their services and values with what's important to their patrons. It's all about the experience, not the transaction. You know you've arrived when customers of It's A Grind Coffee House get excited because your employees know to serve their lattes in a nice ceramic mug rather than a paper cup. Or, when franchisees of We The People see a client's heartfelt appreciation for resolving family business matters by preparing standard legal documents they couldn't possibly afford from an attorney. Inspired franchisees proudly tout their victories to inquiring prospects who want to know why customers are so attracted to their business.

This is an excerpt from my book, "Grow to Greatness: How to build a world-class franchise system faster." To order copies, click here.


AFDR Data Driplet

How Internet Dollars Are Allocated

2010

2011

Online Ad Portals

51%

61%

SEO

25%

15%

Pay-per-click

14%

15%

Social Networking

10%

6%

Source: 2011 Annual Franchise Development Report

Published: July 18th, 2011

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