A Franchisorsí Guide to Supporting Franchisees

08/03/2018 08:00 | Start a business

How to support franchisees

The focus that franchisors place on franchise development is vital to prospective franchisees. This is particularly the case for those who have never managed their owned business before.

Franchisees choose to join a franchise because they want to be their own boss, but they also want the safety net that comes from buying into a proven system, brand and processes. They want the reassurance and comfort of the guidance and support that the franchisor will provide throughout their franchising journey.

As a franchisor, how can you best support your franchisees?

Your franchisees will pay their franchise fee and in return expect to be trained adequately enough to run a successful and profitable business. But the support that you provide should go deeper than this. There are many ways that you can help your franchisee be the best that they can be, which goes further than the support detailed in the franchise agreement.

Here's a guide on how to provide quality, consistent and accessible support to all your franchisees.

Help them to develop their business.

Franchisors tend to be very good at providing comprehensive training as soon as the franchise agreement has been signed and the franchise fee has been paid. However, franchisees donít just benefit from the initial training package, but from ongoing franchise development too. This is particularly true for the more experienced franchisees who quickly become dissatisfied if their growing needs are not met.

There are many ways that your franchiseesí ongoing training needs can be provided for, which doesnít have to involve them taking time out of their business and sitting in a classroom for hours on end.

You could spend time with your franchisees at their franchise sites, for example. Franchisees will appreciate your willingness to roll up your sleeves and get stuck into demonstrating your in-depth knowledge of the system. They will respect and admire a franchisor who takes a hands-on approach to ongoing training.

As well as shadowing your franchisees personally, you should also ensure that there is traditional field support resource available. Being able to place experienced and knowledgeable support staff into the each of the franchises regularly, means that the level of training and coaching can be tailored to the individual franchiseesí needs.

Through spending time with the franchisees, they can identify skill gaps and focus on closing these to improve sales, profitability, market share and brand awareness. If you and your team invest time and effort into the franchisees that need extra support, theyíll be more likely to achieve their goals.

Hear what they are saying and take action

Never forget that franchisees should be treated like the business partners they are, rather than like employees. Nothing is more frustrating for a franchisee than operational changes being introduced to which they have no prior knowledge. Not only is this disrespectful to your franchisees, but you could also be missing a trick. After all, no one has more insight into operational issues than a franchisee.

Make sure that you implement transparent feedback methods so that your franchisees feel comfortable to share their opinions and ideas with you. Effective communication will ensure that you stay connected with franchisees, therefore, building strong relationships and a sense of community. Most importantly though, when you receive feedback from franchisees, act on it. There's no quicker way to lose the trust that has been created than by ignoring franchisee feedback.

Offer them leadership

If you want to drive the performance of your franchisees, then gaining their buy into your mission, values and culture is critical. This is something that can't just be added to the franchise agreement. Itís more than words, rules and obligations. Itís inspiring your franchisees to be the best they can be by helping them understand how they fit into the bigger picture.

Demonstrate your leadership skills by being consistent, honest and fair. This will not only engender respect within the franchise but also results in satisfied and motivated franchisees. In the absence of a leader, franchisees may feel unsupported and disengaged. It's not that they don't care or have a desire to achieve more, it's just that they have no one to encourage them to do so.

Give them a chance to get together.

Franchisees often mention the sense of security they get from being part of a group of like-minded entrepreneurs. In particular, they appreciate the chance to interact with other franchisees at meetings and conferences.

By organising regular opportunities for your franchisees to meet up face to face, youíre encouraging them to share their ideas, questions and concerns. This is crucial for their franchise development and helps confirm the sense of community.

Be mindful though, that the practicalities of being able to leave their franchise for a day or two to attend a meeting or conference can sometimes be difficult for franchisees. Make sure that the content of the events is informative, motivating and inspirational to make attending it worth their while.

Show them that you care.

If you want to grow your franchise, then your franchisees play an essential part. For your franchisees to become your biggest cheerleaders and recommend your franchise to prospective candidates, they have to feel that you genuinely care about their success.

Invest time in their development, pick up the phone regularly, often visit and make sure that they know that your door is always open if they need you.

You'll benefit in the long run too.

As a franchisor, youíll have invested blood, sweat and tears into creating your brand and your systems. To ensure that all your hard work isnít jeopardised by unsupported and poorly trained franchisees, you need to guarantee that they have access to the help that they may need.

Protecting your investment by supporting your franchisees is essential to your success and longevity. They are your brand representatives, responsible for following your system, and conveying your values to their customer base. If they donít succeed; then neither will you.

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