What Is Two-Way Communication? (Hint: It's the Secret to a Strong Franchisor-Franchisee Relationship)

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two-way communciation

In any walk of life, effective communication can build trust, encourage the sharing of ideas and help make sure concepts and issues are understood. As a franchisor, being able to communicate well will be key to your success, as your franchisees will essentially be tasked with recreating a business model to your specifications. Youll also need to be able to listen, not only to your franchisees, but to their employees too. But exactly what is two-way communication?

Explaining and listening; that is the essence of two-way communication, which is defined as the process whereby two parties reciprocally communicate with one another. The franchisor and franchisee relationship should be built using two-way communication to make sure that its strong and based on trust.

There are plenty of examples demonstrating how two-way communication can work wonders for a business. Take Tesco, for example. In 2012, the brains behind the company decided to launch Listen and Fix, a programme encouraging Tesco employees to raise any issues they had. Once the leadership team had collected all the responses, they set to work resolving them and made sure they sent out regular notices explaining their actions to the entire organisation. This process made staff at Tesco understand that their employer would not only listen to their concerns, but work to eliminate them too. Thats why two-way communication can greatly improve employee engagement and productivity.

What is the difference between one-way and two-way communication?

When you're running any business, there are two types of communication systems you can choose to use: one-way and two-way. Imperative in any franchisor and franchisee relationship is the transferring of messages or information. This is the element that both one-way and two-way communication systems have in common.

The difference occurs after this message or information is sent. In a one-way communication system, the flow of the message stops when the receiver has acknowledged the information sent. With two-way communication, the receiver gives feedback to the sender regarding the message or information they have received. This makes it a complete communication system, as both parties have input. The best franchises to own are the ones that encourage two-way communication, as youre able to play a part in the business.

When is each method most useful?

As a franchisor, it may be that you choose to employ both one-way and two-way communication when sharing franchise information, depending on the circumstances. For example, when a relatively inexperienced franchisee joins your business, it may be much quicker and simpler to use one-way communication methods to ensure they understand your franchise business model and systems.

However, as franchisees become more knowledgeable and confident, using a two-way communication system is much more effective. After all, your franchisees may have some great ideas about improvements that can be made. As your franchisees interact with customers day-in, day-out, theyre in a perfect position to offer valuable insight and opinions about your franchise.

Encouraging your franchisees to share their ideas, opinions and concerns with you can make your business opportunity one of the best in the eyes of prospective franchisees. But two-way communication can also give existing franchisees a sense of job satisfaction and benefit the business in the long run. Lets take a closer look at some of the key benefits of this type of interaction.

The benefits of two-way communication

More and more franchisors are coming to appreciate the importance of two-way communication in the workplace. Here are just some of the ways that the exchange of ideas, opinions and issues can benefit your franchise:

  • Trust is built Its clear that communication enables two parties to share their views, emotions and thoughts. However, without trust, conversations cannot be open and honest and this is vital for the success of a franchise. By encouraging two-way communication and providing both positive and negative feedback, you can strengthen your professional alliances and develop a franchisor-franchisee relationship that is based on trust.
  • Issues can be identified quickly When open and honest conversations take place, youll become aware of any problems within your franchise system sooner rather than later. Finding out about problems in good time enables you to right the wrong effectively. Being able to restore stability and overcome challenges promptly will provide further reassurance to your franchisees that you listen and take action when necessary, increasing their trust in your leadership abilities.
  • Feedback opportunities are created Many businesses use a top-down' approach to management, which means that employees are not given many opportunities to make suggestions about the company. But, as a franchisor, you should remember that your franchisees are not your employees but, rather, your business partners. Their feedback should always be taken on board and, where relevant, changes made based on their comments.
  • Franchisees feel valued Most investors choose to join franchises where they think theyll feel valued. Making money and running a successful franchise can be motivating on its own, but without the feeling of being appreciated, job satisfaction can be low. Remember to flag good ideas and give recognition to franchisees whose feedback is the catalyst for change.
  • It can eliminate misunderstandings Franchise information can be complex and confusing. If you solely rely on one-way communication methods, such as emails or memos, how can you be sure that your franchisees have fully understood the message? Using two-way communication techniques like team meetings or telephone calls to relay information and get an immediate response removes doubt and uncertainty, making it a much more effective tool for your franchise.

Putting two-way communication into action

Its clear that two-way communication is crucial to the success of a franchise, but how can you incorporate it into your business? Its simpler than youd think.

  1. Start by thinking of your franchisees as individuals rather than a franchise outlet. By taking an interest and getting to know your franchisees better, you'll have a greater understanding of what motivates them and help them feel valued.
  2. Once you've developed a deeper understanding of your franchisees, you can adjust how you communicate to get the best out of your team. Do your franchisees prefer to give feedback face to face or over the phone? Do they like to discuss issues or concerns with their fellow franchisees in a group environment? How can you generate and share ideas most effectively? When you have the answers to these questions, you can put processes in place and organise events to encourage feedback and facilitate the sharing of ideas and opinions.
  3. Lastly, never underestimate the power of a simple thank you. Whenever a franchisee has the courage to give you feedback good or bad thank them for their honesty. Likewise, if a franchisee suggests an idea that ends up resulting in improved performance, recognise their achievement. Not only will your franchisees know that their opinions count, but theyll feel more willing to be honest and innovative in the future which will benefit everyone.

The take-home message

We hope weve convinced you that two-way communication is the way to go if youre dedicated to running a franchise thats successful in the long run. Although youre the franchisor and possibly the founder of the business too its vital you dont get carried away with the power you have. Treating your franchisees as your equals will pay dividends, as youll probably benefit from a whole host of business ideas youd never even considered. And boosting your franchisees sense of fulfilment and job satisfaction can only mean good things for future expansion too.

We have a whole archive of articles for franchisors and franchisees; click here to browse our recent ones.

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