How To Encourage Feedback In Franchising
The one word that is guaranteed to strike fear into any employee or franchisee is ‘feedback’. This is especially true if the person uttering the word is the employer or franchisor. Of course, giving or receiving positive feedback is great, but the awkwardness and difficulty of negative feedback is tough no matter which way around it is.
This is why the good old suggestion box is often strategically placed in offices, factories and shops up and down the country. It’s so much easier to anonymously give your opinion without any repercussion. But, the truth is that this method is not only outdated, but extremely ineffective too.
Prospective franchisees are looking for franchise opportunities where they can learn and grow in an open and honest culture. This is an important factor to be present in any business, but is even more prevalent in the franchise model where both franchisor and franchisee have a vested interested in becoming one of the great franchises.
So, here’s four ways that you can promote feedback within your franchise…good or bad.
1. Encourage transparent feedback methods
Rightly or wrongly, when a boss asks for feedback, the overriding feeling is fear. It can be scary being truthful with someone in a position of power especially if the feedback is negative rather than positive. But if you want to promote the importance of feedback in your franchise you need to create a culture of trust, openness and honestly.
Once you’ve got the culture right, your franchisees will feel empowered to give feedback as and when they feel it’s appropriate. After all, they’ve invested in your franchise model and sharing their thoughts and opinions could result in positive changes being made that impact the whole network.
And it’s not just the good feedback that should be given openly (although this is important). Although great feedback encourages people to continue doing what they do well, it’s the constructive feedback that really helps people grow.
2. Don’t just wait for feedback; ask for it
Being an approachable franchisor who is willing to take feedback on board may not be enough to urge franchisees to come forward and tell you what right and what’s not. A tried and tested way to get truly honest feedback is to take the time to meet with franchisees and ask them.
It shouldn’t be a case of putting anyone on the spot, but great franchises learn from the experiences of their franchisees and you should know the best way to gain valuable insights from them. Ask questions such as:
- If you were me, what would you change about the franchise and why?
- What feedback are you getting from your customers or employees that you think I should hear?
- What do you like most and least about being a franchisee?
- How can I help you to become more successful?
So, now you know how to get your franchisees to give you feedback. How do you react?
If you’re going to successfully instil confidence in your franchisees to be open with you, they must be sure that you can deal with what you’re being told. You need to receive any thoughts, comments or opinions with an open mind.
Being able to embrace the feedback and welcome criticism as a way of learning and growing is a powerful example to set your franchisees. They will be looking for franchise leadership that demonstrates that all feedback is beneficial. It should be actively sought, because good, or bad, it’s an essential tool for our growth.
3. Don’t just walk the walk; talk the talk
It’s all well and good asking for feedback, but you must be able to give it too. Your franchisees will only run great franchises if they’re given advice and guidance from you, their franchisor.
This is difficult because you must always remember that your franchisees are your business partners and not your employees. You must respect them at all times and give feedback appropriately based on your relationship.
One way to achieve this is by asking if someone wants to receive feedback, rather than just giving it. Asking for your franchisees’ permission will make them feel like they’re in control of the situation and be more willing to accept what is being said. This approach means that you’ll step down from your pedestal and will be viewed as simply offering your opinions and perspectives, not putting yourself in a superior position.
And you might want to think of a different way of delivering feedback than the overused ‘sandwich’ method. This is where you squish criticism between compliments to smooth it over. Most of the time this isn’t very effective, and even when it does work, it’s highly likely that your franchisee will have noticed, which can make for an awkward conversation.
Having the ability to deliver more direct and honest feedback instead comes back to the culture that you create. Rather than shy away from giving feedback you should lead by example and give it out as you would wish to receive it.
4. Act on the feedback you receive
There’s no better way to discourage feedback, than by not acting on what you’ve been told. If your franchisees have been honest enough to give some home truths, they’ll be looking for franchise improvements in response to their feedback.
Not only will implementing the suggestions that franchisees make strengthen your relationship with them, but they may also be very successful. In fact, the Big Mac was developed by a franchisee. Imagine if feedback on how the humble burger could be improved was disregarded by McDonald’s? Sometimes, franchisees will have a better understanding of what customers want and need, so listening to them can prove to be lucrative.
Whether you’re giving or receiving feedback, do it in a way that has a positive effect on the franchise model. And remember, criticism is as important as praise. After all, a flower needs both rain and sun to grow. So, if you want your franchise to develop and flourish, always promote the importance of feedback.
The Editorial Team, Point Franchise ©
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