Creating effective communication strategies with franchisees is a vital part of franchise systems of all sizes. Today there are more communication tools than ever before and many are literally in sitting your back pocket, your purse or wherever you keep your smart phone. It is important to remember that when a franchisee succeeds, the franchise brand and system succeeds, and communication is a tool to that success.
A franchise relationship is like any long-term relationship. In order to succeed, both sides need to be willing to listen and to work together. Effective communication builds support and buy-in of new ideas and concepts. It also gives the franchisee a reason to share their ideas and thoughts. Remember, some of the most successful concepts, advertisements and services have originated from a franchisee. As a franchisor, you don’t want to lose out on taking the next big thing system-wide simply because you did not have an effective communication system in place.
If you are a franchisor, ask yourself these five questions to find out if your communication needs some reworking:
1. How often do you communicate with your franchisees? Once a week? Every month? Only at the annual conference? The more often you communicate, the more your franchisees will see and come to believe that you are truly invested in their success. The franchisee has invested their own money and time and they want to know that the franchisor is as invested as they are.
2. Is your communication in the same format each time? Are you a one-trick-pony communicator? If so, switch it up. There are a multitude of technologies available to you from webinars to surveys to conference calls. Don’t just send out emails. Invite groups of franchisees to participate in a web conference;
3. When was the last time you sat face to face with a group of franchisees and just listened to what they had to say? Often, as a franchise system grows, those at the top stop spending time with their franchisees and stop hearing what they have to say. Just because the system is expanding it does not mean that everything is going well and that franchisees are happy. And even if they are happy, it is still a good idea to sit down every once in a while.
4. Are your franchisees able to openly communicate with one another? You should encourage your franchisees to share their success stories and best practices with one another.
5. Do you know if your franchisees understand the mission and vision of the company? If the last time you shared your vision of the company with franchisees was at initial training, it might be time to get your franchisees excited again. Help your franchisee to become your cheerleaders. They are out there every day and working with the public. If they know the mission and vision and are excited about it, the public will be able to feel it.
Taking a page out of the Dunkin’ Brands CEO’s playbook, franchisors need to remember that franchisees are their customers. Just as good customer service is vital for the success of a franchisee’s business, good customer service from the franchisor helps the franchisor’s business thrive.