It’s not a marriage
- What is the main challenge facing any new franchisee?
- Is it the rental of a business space?
- Is it managing the daily running costs?
- Is it finding the right staff members?
- Or perhaps the difficulty of dealing with established competitors?
No, it’s none of these. Sure, these are all important issues that need to be addressed, but there is an even bigger challenge: Managing the relationship with one’s franchisor, according to the 2014 Franchise Association of South Africa (FASA) Franchisee Survey.
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Of all the franchisees questioned during the survey, 28% cited the relationship with the franchisor as being the main challenge.
This makes it, by quite some margin, the biggest issue facing new franchisees (second place is a tie at 13% between managing staff and paying franchise fees).
The main problem is that franchisees (and even many franchisors) define the nature of the relationship incorrectly.
Far too often, it is described as a marriage, but it isn’t that at all. It is actually more of a parental relationship than anything else.
Why it’s not a marriage
We’ve often heard people compare the franchisor-franchisee relationship to that of a marriage.
They will talk about the ‘honeymoon’ period and how the franchisor and franchisee are in ‘partnership’ together for a common purpose. And while this analogy may have some merit, a marriage is exactly what the franchise relationship should not be.
When we think of marriage, we think of a joint-venture relationship. In a joint venture, there are partners. Because of the relatively equal footing of the ‘partners’, the typical joint venture starts out with a negotiation – and is often a series of ongoing negotiations.
Like a marriage, there are the ‘who does the dishes’ issues, and then there are the more serious issues, such as money. Because each joint venture is unique, every one of these issues is usually subject to negotiation.
Because a joint-venture partner is usually compensated based on how much money goes to the bottom line, one concern that most ‘marriages’ have is how the accounting gets done.
On a one-off basis, this is fairly easy to monitor. But on a massive scale, it is almost impossible. And when your joint venture spouse cheats on you, it can become a battle among equals in divorce court.
In fact, that is one of the big differences we find between franchising and joint ventures.
Unlike partnerships, franchising is much more like a parent-child relationship. The franchisee, like the child, will go through a variety of growth phases.
When children first come on the scene, they are very dependent on their parents, relying on them for the education and training that will allow them to survive in this world. And as they grow older, they become less dependent, and parents begin to allow them some latitude.
As they get older still, they will begin to test the boundaries of their relationship, pushing a little around the edges, trying to change or influence the system that parents have set for them, and perhaps breaking some of the rules.
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But the child is still a dependent. It is simply a question of how forcefully the parent chooses to put their foot down.
The good parent
The franchisor needs to start by establishing the boundaries of the relationship. It is important for the franchisee to understand that the franchisor’s first role as ‘guardian’ is to guard the system and the brand so all franchisees can thrive.
Thus, one of the most important roles of the franchisor is that of disciplinarian. To do that, it needs to clearly communicate the rules and the intention to enforce them right from the start.
At the same time, it is important for the franchisor to understand that discipline can no longer be meted out exactly as it was before franchising took place. If franchisors try to give a franchisee the ‘it’s my way or the highway’ speech that worked so well before, they’ll quickly find themselves with alienated franchisees — the first step on the road to real trouble.
Franchisees are business owners, and as such, require franchisors to communicate with them in a professional manner. Being firm with franchisees, as opposed to managers, also means providing them with an explanation for various ‘requests’.
Most franchisees have a key desire for their opinions to be heard. A franchisor should thus avoid making decisions in a vacuum and providing direction to franchisees without a clear explanation of why the direction is being given.
Communication is key
The secret to a good relationship between franchisor and franchisee starts with communication. And that means more than the occasional newsletter and a visit from the field representative.
In today’s technology-centred society, it is all too tempting to rely on the Internet for all communication. But in a franchise context, that would be a big mistake. All too often, we have seen well-intentioned emails ignite a firestorm when they are misinterpreted.
Relationships are built through dialogue, so it’s important that dialogue be encouraged in every aspect of the relationship. Good franchisors are careful to create multiple venues where constructive dialogue can occur.
Annual conventions, regional meetings and advertising councils all provide opportunities for two-way communication.
The accessibility of senior staff is also vital. There are senior executives of some fast-growing franchisors who would not go home for the night until they had personally returned every franchisee’s call.
To be effective, the communication needs to be more than frequent. It needs to be honest. While there are some things franchisors may choose not to share with their franchisees, the key to a long-term sustained relationship is trust. And trust starts with openness and honesty. Get caught in a lie once, and you have destroyed that trust forever.
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Lastly, to be effective, franchisors have to genuinely care about the success of their franchisees. Good franchisee relationships start with a franchisor that is, first and foremost, committed to franchisee success.
That commitment, more than anything else, needs to permeate the franchisor organisation at every level.
If franchisees do not sense true commitment from franchisors, a relationship could quickly become adversarial. If, on the other hand, franchisees see franchisors breaking their backs to help them achieve their success, there is almost nothing they won’t do to assist.
Develop Digital Marketing Competency In 3 Simple Steps
Conquering the digital revolution needn’t be daunting. Polish up your tech skills and watch your digital marketing prowess increase throughout your franchise.
As a franchisor, digital marketing may be proving to be a challenge due to the unique structuring of the business.
“The very nature of franchises is ‘structured’, however, when it comes to marketing, that structure often lacks,” says Marcela De Vivo, Founder and CEO of Gryffin Media.
Franchisors and franchisees often struggle to reach common ground when looking to achieve different marketing goals. While the franchisor needs to control the brand in its entirety, the franchisee wants to market their business using particular strategies suited to their location.
Research has found that smartphones are the biggest influencers of 82% of users when they make their in-store purchase decisions while. It’s for this reason that the importance of digital marketing for franchises has increased.
Here’s how to harness its power of influence, amplify foot traffic and solidify brand loyalty:
1. Recruit digital natives and early adopters
As much as you’re the leader of your franchise network, there are franchisees in your chain you could learn from. The global increase in millennial franchise owners means it is highly likely that you’ll be able to identify early digital adopters within your franchise network.
“The best people to learn from are those who have been in your shoes before,” says Matt Forman of the Franchise Centre at Griffith University.
“Encourage and support their efforts and use them as case studies to demonstrate to the rest of your franchisees the value of digital marketing, and how to do it right.”
2. Invest in training your team
“Each digital competency level requires more education and resources in order to integrate digital marketing with your physical stores,” says Forman. For this reason, regularly investing in continuous training for your team so as to ensure they keep abreast of any new and emerging trends.
Proactivity and adapting to the constantly evolving digital landscape led KFC to open a LinkedIn account for its founder and mascot Colonel Sanders. KFC’s out of the box tactic is a fresh approach to what has long been considered a B2B platform, under-utilised as a B2C platform.
3. Apply custom targeting techniques
The discovery of new and small businesses is being fuelled by Google searches, social media and online reviews, making these platforms a goldmine of invaluable tools.
Leveraging certain custom targeting techniques like easily searchable keywords and exposure on other reputable and high-traffic websites, gives your franchise’s digital marketing efforts a boost. This results in an effective campaign, favourable reviews and meaningful and lasting interactions with consumers “whether it’s a reply to a Facebook comment or a retweet,” says Entrepreneur’s Emily Conklin.
How To Hire Skilled Workers For Your Franchise
Your staff run your business – you just have to show them how. This is why employing the best people for the job is essential.
According to the Franchise Association of South Africa (FASA) 2017 Franchisor Survey, one of the main challenges facing franchisees is finding the right staff.
“Staffing your franchise can be one of the most challenging parts of running a successful business. Without a great team of employees, you cannot run your business effectively,” says Saxon Marsden-Huggins, founder of WebRover.
These three tips could help you find the best employees for your franchise outlet:
1. Don’t hire in haste
While you may be rearing to go and keen to fill gaps to speed up profitability, research your candidates thoroughly.
As the job applications keep flowing into your inbox, keep in mind that not all of them qualify for the positions available – it may even be a small percent who are actually viable candidates. This is why your hiring process should include:
- Taking the time to thoroughly screen CVs to develop a short list
- Creating a carefully crafted list of interview questions
- Setting aside adequate time for thorough interviews
- Getting to know the candidates through a second round of interviews to confirm your choice.
Giving the hiring process dedication and attention will ensure you get the cream of the crop, contributing to the long-term success of your franchise.
2. Demonstrate support in the workplace
While you can instil the necessary skills into new recruits, it’s difficult to train for culture. This is why choosing the right employees from the beginning will make the rest of your franchise management system will run more smoothly.
“The manner by which you run the franchise will influence employee perceptions of the brand as well,” says Hireology’s Erin Borgerson. “Your staff must become ambassadors of your franchise system to attract the target consumer market.”
The best way to do this is encouraging staff to give you their honest feedback. Your commitment to creating and upholding a positive culture will result in increased loyalty from your current staff and a superior pool of applicants.
3. Offer appealing incentives
When advancement opportunities are clearly communicated, staff is keen to hear how they can get there, as they have career goals of their own. Encouraging this ambition will draw good employees to your franchise.
“Helping employees understand the steps to advancement helps them to view their current job as an important part of a career with an upward path, not just a pay cheque for this week,” say financial reporting technology experts at Qvinci.
Performance bonuses and employee benefits incentivise staff’s efforts, therefore increasing their income alongside the profit of the business. “This serves to make employees a part of the business and not merely people ‘who work there’,” they explain.
3 Ways Communication Helps You Run Your Franchise Better
Managing your business as an independent owner may have been challenging at the beginning, but – as you’ve come to realise – the successful operation of a franchise network requires an extended set of skills.
“When it comes to a multi-location business such as a franchise, effective communication is vital,” says Dani Peleva, Managing Director at online marketing agency Local Fame. “So what happens when you’re struggling to connect with the franchise network you have in place?”
It may be time to upgrade your franchise management skills, because the success of your franchise network has a direct correlation to how you integrate feedback systems into your management processes.
Have a clear comprehension of the challenges your franchise encounters, keep an open chain of communication between yourself, franchisees and managers, and maintain regular interactions between everyone in the network. These are some of the most crucial aspects of successful franchise management:
1. Understand the challenges you face
A thorough understanding of your business requires dedication to regular and consistent groundwork for first-hand experience on how the day-to-day operations of the business are conducted.
“Seeing and talking to the people that make your business will help you understand the challenges that franchisees face and the systems they need to drive higher profitability and growth,” says Rosie Niblock, Marketing and Communications Manager at Proactive Marketing.
“That way you can work more effectively to make improvements to franchise management systems logically and within the financial grasp of all franchisees.”
2. Get personal through regular visits
You never want your franchises to feel neglected. It’ll demoralise them and possibly drop sales, profits and their ability to keep the business running as you intended. Maintaining regular contact and sharing as much information as possible – when you can – fosters strong relations with your franchisees.
Empowerment through information and communication makes a difference in the business and helps franchisees make decisions in favour of the business and to make sure that they all pull in the same direction in terms of customer satisfaction, says Alan van der Westhuizen, executive manager of new business sales at Fournews, a 20-year-old franchise holding company for News Café, Krispy Kreme, Moyo, Brooklyn Brothers, Smooch, Cafe Fino and Go! outlets.
Ensure your response to these concerns is swift. “If not discussed they could fester ad create undesirable rumours,” says Niblock.
3. Create events for network collaboration
One of the most important aspects of managing your franchise is meeting with all your franchisees, at least annually. “Franchise conventions are almost certainly the biggest tool when it comes to building profitable engagement,” says Peleva. “They’re one of the most important things to focus on when you’re considering how to lead your franchise network.” According to her, a successfully attended and executed convention will let you:
- Boost your network-wide productivity
- Hugely increase your profitability
- Drive passion for your brand
Communicating with your franchisees is the best way to identify problems, work towards solving them, and building a pleasant and fruitful relationship with your owners.
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