We all know that for children to thrive they must be healthy. It may sound simple, but bear in mind that to keep a child healthy, you need to feed it, clean it, stimulate it, mentor it and, most importantly, build a strong relationship with it. It’s the same with franchises: healthy franchises will thrive.
Just like with children, things become even more complex the more franchisees you have because building quality relationships becomes even more difficult. The challenge set to you is to effectively utilise and maximise the little time you have to ensure that each moment, whether its being there in person or using digital channels, creates maximum impact. Combining software and clever techniques to help communicate effectively can be an extremely valuable strategy in conjunction with these steps:
Do you know when your franchisees birthdays are? No? Remember that they’re your best sales team, for both your businesses and your partners. Also remember that when they joined you, they bought more than just a franchise, they bought into your values and vision. Get to know your franchisees as well as you know your customers; this will show that you care about them as individuals and not just an extension of your brand.
Ask for feedback and make it safe for people to be honest with you. Get their input on everything from how people think last week’s event went to how your team can function more effectively. If you don’t like what you hear, don’t get defensive. You want to create an environment where franchisees aren’t afraid to say that something is a bad idea or that a deadline is unreasonable.
Specials valid only for your A stores? Don’t send those to the other stores. When you send targeted and valuable information, it will move straight to the top of the pile instead of into the ‘To do’ folder.
Use a channel to communicate new and interesting information to your franchisees. Make sure that you’re emphasising the vision and growth plans for the business as a whole and clearly assist them to see how they can contribute to fulfilling these goals. Remember that you can’t give too much positive feedback, as long as it’s sincere. Giving positive feedback is like handing out chocolate; people will always appreciate it.
Figure out what people need to do their job better, and help them get it. This could range from training and better equipment to the elimination of a counterproductive policy. You may find out that people want you to intervene with a problem co-worker or another branch, advise them on how to handle a sticky situation, or give more targeted feedback. Use the communication channel discussed in point 4 to highlight any on-the-job coaching, support and training available to them to target certain areas of their work or overcome any problems. This serves to improve and motivate individual and team performances.
All good marketing and engagement strategies involve a call to action – your interaction with your franchisees should be the same. Use a survey, a click to a resource or even a simple invitation to engage with you – but ask them to do something, which in turn leads me to our final point…
Who’s reading your communication? Who is responding? If they’re not reading them – why not? It could be something as simple as your franchisee having changed their email address, or as serious as real discontentment – either way, you need to take steps to remedy the situation. As you know, starting a franchise presents tremendous opportunities for both personal and professional growth and, like a parent, the role of franchisor can be as exciting and rewarding as any business venture conceived.
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