Working with franchisees can sometimes be a challenge. It is essential to build trust, communicate clearly, listen and make sure they are excited to be part of the franchise.
In order to help strengthen this relationship, Cail Morrison, the vice president of franchisee support for Anytime Fitness, shares five tips for working with those that are advocates for your brand.
1. Get Personal — It is important to get to know your franchisees. Developing rapport and earning trust is important in the franchisee/franchisor relationship. It’s the building blocks to a partnership in which two entities rely on each other. If you have trust with your franchisee, they should know that you are working in their best interest. It also opens the door to good coaching; you can be more direct and clear with someone you trust, and who trusts you.
2. Listen — Listening is crucial. Asking the right questions is even more important. The communication layers must be actively open; having a franchisee advisory council, franchisee message boards, accessibility and availability of leadership. Any way you can gather info or feedback from franchisees makes them a voice of the brand. Ask three questions about the idea/concern at hand before providing a solution. If you are unsure or need to dig deeper into a topic, “tell me more about that” is a great phrase to get you started. I’ve found this quote to be true: “Intelligent people don’t always have to be right, they just need to be heard.” Often, what is most important is what they are not telling you, and the only way to fully understand any situation is by truly listening — and asking the right questions.
3. Set Expectations — Understanding what is expected of both the franchisee and the franchisor early on can save a lot of potential challenges in the future. This is very important when setting up modes of communication, length of communication, timeliness of communication. If both know their role, and understand it, most times you can fall back on that to make sure everyone stays focused on the member, product or solution. Check in on expectations from time to time to make sure both are meeting them. The roles and expectations may change, as you get further into the franchisee/franchise timeline.
4. Know the numbers — Knowing the key metrics and drivers to the business can keep both the franchisee and franchisor on track. Sometimes we get distracted with smaller, more insignificant things that may not have a great impact on the member or business. While it is important to tackle the small tasks at hand, it is crucial to move to solutions that drive business.
5. Know the “Why” — Knowing the “why” behind a new process, policy or mandate is very important when working with a franchisee. Make sure you know, and can explain the, “why” behind the final decision. The franchisee will then know that you had a process, debated the angles and made the best decision for the franchisees, franchisor and consumer. It is important that we keep them focused on being a part of the franchise. They may not like how every decision effects them personally, but they will be accepting if you can explain that decisions are made for the collective good for the franchise, franchisee and most importantly, the customer.
By Emily Harbourne