How To Improve Communication with Your Franchisees
Strong, positive relationships between a franchisor and its franchisees is critical for system growth, especially when it comes to candidates in the validation stage of their sales journey. Beyond strong unit profitability, among the many methods for improving this crucial relationship is clear communication and transparency on the part of the franchisor. And among the many methods for achieving this, technology can play a key role.
For franchisors, communicating with franchisees isn’t as simple as walking down the hall to another office. Franchises can be scattered around the world in a variety of time zones, making it difficult for everyone to jump in on a quick in-person staff meeting. Yet communication is essential to scaling any organization, whether it has one location or thousands.
The onus is on franchisors to develop and foster a trusting, symbiotic relationship with their franchisees despite these geographical challenges. After all, customers demand nothing less than consistency when visiting franchises, and the only way to coordinate branding, targeting, sales, and marketing is through constant contact with the mother ship.
Overcoming gaffes through communication
Across the franchise, the brand must shine, delivering accessible, reliable service to customers from New York City to Los Angeles to Hong Kong. Without deep understanding among franchise owners and the parent company, though, customer experiences can suffer.
To combat these issues, many franchisors turn to form letters, video monitoring, and constant check-ins on the franchise’s point of service figures. But this method can feel heavy-handed to franchisees, many of whom believe they’re being scrutinized instead of supported. Instead, franchisers should focus on two communication strategies: 1) giving everyone at the table a voice; and 2) ensuring negative voices don’t drown out positive ones.
Finding and mastering this balance means creating a comprehensive communication strategy that combines technology tools such as phone systems and video conferences with old-school strategies, such as in-person visits or attendance at annual conventions and regional meetings, all of which drive top-down branding and foster collaboration. Get started with these tactics:
- Engage your franchises with technology. The latest tech tools are an essential component of your overall communication strategy, especially when it comes to making changes at franchise headquarters and pushing those out to all franchises (literally at the push of a button). For instance, cloud telephony is a particularly useful service that allows you to easily add extensions, offers you a professional greeting, and even helps you create a dedicated franchisee support line as you grow. As well, robust call screening helps you avoid missed calls, and instant messaging tools like Slack can keep you in real-time touch with your key team members, regardless of location.
- Prioritize an honest dialogue. Though technology is great for opening communication channels, connecting with each franchisee and fostering support means going beyond technology platforms and initiating a dialogue. In fact, an effective and candid dialogue that happens both intimately over the phone and in person is the only way to ensure complete buy-in from top performers. And by using active listening techniques to get to the heart of any confusion or concern, or to relate any negative news to your franchisees honestly, you’re illustrating to your franchisees that communication is not simply about efficiency, but also about relationships.
- Be committed to your franchisees. Your ultimate objective as franchisor is to help each franchisee reach success by getting everyone on the same page while simultaneously maximizing each one’s ability to personalize. By exhibiting your commitment to franchisees, you will in turn promote loyalty. This loyalty is essential to effective collaboration and successful communication. It also reduces the likelihood of animosity if a franchise happens to fail.
Today, more opportunities than ever exist to stay in touch with your franchisees. It takes only a few moments and a few of the latest technology tools to streamline your internal operations and communications. But understanding how to balance technology with good old-fashioned communication techniques to stay committed to your team members is essential to cultivating the most productive and successful 2018 possible for your franchise.
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