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10 Ways Franchisors Can Improve Franchisee Communication

by Nathan, Founder, Franchise Relationships Institute

Here are 10 ways franchisors can improve the effectiveness of communicating with their franchisees and improve franchise relations.

Each year I have the privilege of talking with thousands of franchisees about how to make the most of being part of a franchise network. I also get to work with lots of franchisor teams, helping them to engage more effectively with their franchisees. If you are a franchisor executive, here are 10 ways you can immediately improve the quality of your communication with franchisees.

1. Take responsibility for communicating important messages to your network. Do not rely on franchisees to communicate policy messages to their peers, even if these do come from FAC meetings. It is not their role and, because they will inevitably have conflicting interests, they are likely to communicate inconsistent or incomplete messages, creating disappointment all around.

2. Do not endorse franchisees meeting together without a competent facilitator . Human nature being as it is, the angriest or most unhappy people will almost always pull down the mood of a group making these meetings unenjoyable, unproductive "bitch sessions" - a pet hate of your better franchisees. If there are problems to be resolved, ensure the person running the meeting understands how to set up a constructive process that results in workable suggestions and solutions.

3. Stay calm and non-defensive when responding to franchisee concerns . Even if you feel your competence or integrity is being questioned, trying to prove you are right and they are wrong will just make them suspicious you are hiding something. It also can also frustrate people who will feel shut down and not raise legitimate concerns in the future. Listen carefully to people's underlying concerns and respond directly and factually.

4. Do not use town hall meetings to resolve group gripes . Allowing angry or opinionated people to stand up with microphones creates an unsettling, political atmosphere of point scoring rather than the honest, open discussions you need to understand and resolve issues. There are more effective methods to have gripes heard where everyone gets a say, the mood stays positive and actions are agreed on.

5. Coordinate franchisee communications through a single channel . Franchisees have better things to do than wade through a mass of random, verbose emails from different departments. Ensure all emails are interesting, relevant and short. If the franchisee has to take action make this as clear and easy as possible.

6. Minimize lecturing to franchisees at regional meetings . At least 50% of these meetings should be devoted to interactive discussions and workshops on topics that will help franchisees to drive sales, deliver a better customer experience and improve their profitability. The messages they are likely to remember will be the ones they were involved in.

7. Train franchisor executives in effective presentation skills . Maximize engagement through the effective use of voice modulation, confident posture and a light easy pace. Use pictures and simple charts to bring your messages to life. If you are just going to read points off a slide you are better to provide this information online or using a handout.

8. Prepare for meetings by imagining what success looks like . Consider what you will see happening if it goes really well. How will people respond during the meeting? How will they feel afterwards? What outcomes will be achieved? Discuss this as a team prior to the meeting.

9. Set an example of constructive participation . Executives that wander in and out of franchisee meetings or sit at the back of the room catching up on their emails are making a statement that the meeting is not really all that important. Feign interest if you have to. While you may have heard the messages, if you look bored, it can come across as a lack of commitment.

10. Use regular webinars with top leadership to keep franchisees up to date . A 30 minute webinar with your CEO every few weeks will keep franchisees feeling connected and in the loop on important strategic information. Webinars should start and finish on time, be tightly run and provide an opportunity to ask questions.

Greg Nathan is a psychologist, author of several popular franchising books and Founder of the Franchise Relationships Institute. This article is from his collection of Healthy Franchise Relationships Tips, available from www.franchiserelationships.com .

 

 

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