At this year’s Franchise Consumer Marketing Conference, the conversations among franchisors repeatedly turned to a huge opportunity: How can franchisors cultivate supportive relationships with their franchisees?
Building a strong relationship is an important goal. Franchisees with strong franchisor connections do better locally, which helps the brand as a whole. But what are the smartest strategies for growing productive, lasting and trusting partnerships between franchisors and franchisees?
Start with these three steps:
1.) Foster a common culture.
Every business has a specific culture that’s based around its overarching principles, ethics and values. Franchisors should ensure that franchisees not only understand that culture, but also buy into it completely. Each franchisee will be responsible, after all, for introducing new employees to that culture, so the franchisee must thoroughly embrace and represent it.
Spreading a brand’s message through training and internal transparency is key. From that point, franchisors can provide franchisees with informative and motivational content, such as videos or franchisee testimonials, to help them share the culture with their employees.
Over time, trust and loyalty will strengthen; franchisees will become more deeply invested in the brand, and franchisees will begin to promote the brand’s narrative. Although customers might not consciously recognize this link, they will experience greater consistency and positivity from it. What better way to ensure repeat business and a constant flow of referrals than consumers who are excited by a good experience
2.) Communicate effectively and sincerely.
Franchisors must view themselves and the franchisees as one team — think “we” instead of “us and them” — and the best way to build that mindset is through open communication. Regardless of how geographically distant a franchisee might be from the franchisor, the franchisor must institute channels where seamless ongoing dialogue takes place.
The franchisor must initiate communication if it is to flow naturally between the two. For instance, the franchisor might want to set up weekly calls at the start of the relationship. Subsequent emails, newsletters, conferences and content avenues will bond franchisors and franchisees together, leaving franchisees feeling “in the know” every step of the way.
Of course, conversations are not one-way streets; franchisees must be comfortable sharing their ideas and concerns with franchisors, who must then act on the information they receive. Franchisees provide valuable on-the-ground viewpoints that franchises need to successfully grow and scale.
3.) Lead with focus.
If franchisors can demonstrate exceptional leadership principles, franchisees will be more engaged in their roles. Talented leaders hold people accountable, but they also help people spread their wings. Thus, franchisors must walk a fine line between providing guidance and accepting honest feedback.
This requires tremendous focus as well as a willingness to be innovative and responsive. That focus may be shared with franchisees through consistency and strength at the top. Both franchisors and franchisees should have clear, attainable goals to work toward, and each one’s progress toward those goals should be transparent.
Ideally, franchisees and franchisors can work together to boost their brand. The closer their relationship, the better chance they have of building wealth, community and customer loyalty.