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Trouble Connecting with Your Franchisees?

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Some franchisors experience difficulty connecting with and motivating a certain number of their franchisees. Here are some tips for dealing with this problem.

Certain franchisors can be frustrated with their relationship with their franchisees. Rather than moving together on the same path toward the same goals the two parties have a type of disconnect. The franchisor believes that they have the right franchise program, the right staff and the right product. Although some of their franchisees are doing well, a number of them arenít performing up to expectations. A limited number of franchisors survey their franchisees on a periodic basis or use a third party. Although this can be an effective way to evaluate and measure levels of franchisee satisfaction it may not be the most effective way to drill down to the causes of any disconnect that may exist. Nevertheless in some cases, the use of franchisee surveys can uncover existing or potential problems.

Ways to identify why there is a problem and how to address it:

1. Identify a representative group of franchisees that fall into the category of those who are ďdisconnectedĒ or not fully engaged. Youíll want to include those franchisees that are in compliance with the terms of their franchise agreement and those not on the verge of default. Although a franchise advisory council could be useful in this effort, this entity or group typically includes a cross section of franchisees that represent all franchisees on various issues. A FAC could help facilitate a solution but it may not be the most productive way to proceed with all types of problems.

2. Gather data on the group of disconnected franchisees so that you can establish an overall profile of the group. This can include how they compare to the more successful and responsive franchisees include how long they have been franchised and any other pertinent statistics. This might help identify any common problems or issues that this group shares.

3. Create a reasonable number of franchisees that can serve as a representative body. For small franchise systems, there may only be a few franchisees, therefore it may be better to meet with them on an individual basis.

A Suggested Agenda for Change:

1. Discuss and identify franchisee expectations when they first started the franchise and whether there has been a significant change in these expectations. There may be situations where a franchisee has expectations that cannot be fulfilled. The key objective is to try to determine if the disconnect is the result of unfilled expectations or other factors.

2. Organize the responses and information into a workable list of items that can serve as a basis for change. The importance of this step is to determine if change should or can make a difference. There may very well be situations whereby the franchisor cannot be expected to resolve all of the issues. One result may be that a franchisee would be better served to exit the franchise. The key point is to identify any root causes.

3. Create an action plan for resolving any issues. This is the most important step in the entire process since it involves determining how to solve the problems. Each problem or issue needs to be considered in terms of whether itís correctable. There can be some issues that canít be changed. If the resolution can be addressed with training, adjustments to the program, marketing strategies or staff support, then there is an opportunity for success. In some cases, a resolution may be difficult to achieve.

When a franchisor has a group of franchisees that are non-responsive or disconnected itís important that the franchisor takes steps to address and resolve the issues where possible. The time invested in meeting with these franchisees is an opportunity for a franchisor to resolve problems or identify potential problems before they get out of control.

© 2013 FranchiseKnowHow, LLC

Ed Teixeira is the President of FranchiseKnowHow, LLC. He can be reached at franchiseknowhow@gmail.com

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