Are you looking for ways to improve the level of franchisee happiness in your franchise? Boosting satisfaction across a network can take time, but it’s a vital process for franchisors who want to get the most out of their business. Keep reading for 10 tips on how to create a positive working environment in your franchise.
As with any partnership, the key to a highly productive franchisor-franchisee relationship lies in the happiness of both parties. For a franchise system to be profitable, the satisfaction of the franchisees is as important as that of the franchisor. So, it’s crucial franchisors spend time and energy making sure they’re supporting their investors and fostering franchisee happiness.
10 ways to boost franchisee happiness
1. Provide realistic financial projections
Happiness isn’t all about money, but franchisees will quickly become disillusioned if you set their expectations too high and they fail to reach their goals.
Some franchisors base financial forecasts on their average franchise unit, which can be misleading for franchisees who launch a business in a smaller territory or less popular location. To manage expectations, it’s a good idea to make sure franchisees know the potential impacts of economic or environmental factors on their ability to make a profit.
2. Help franchisees develop a great business plan
Well-written plans help investors grow their businesses, develop objectives and strategically plan for any challenges they may face. But, perhaps most significantly, they provide a holistic view of new franchise ventures.
It’s not your job to create a business plan for each franchisee in your network, but you should use your expertise and experience to provide valuable guidance. Make sure your investors know and understand the key elements of a great business plan, as well as why the document is so important.
3. Create an effective operations manual
The operations manual acts as the backbone of any franchise system, explaining the rules and regulations franchisees must follow. It’s a highly detailed document, and one franchisors must consider carefully.
By writing and distributing an effective operations manual, you’ll help your franchisees become more confident about developing their business. Plus, you’ll reduce the amount of ongoing guidance you’ll need to provide, and the number of times franchisees will get in touch with quick questions.
4. Upgrade your training and ongoing support packages
The more your franchisees know about building a successful business, the happier they’ll be. If you give them the tools they need to grow their franchise units themselves, you’ll also be giving them the opportunity to gain personal satisfaction in their work.
Of course, investors won’t want to spend their whole lives building up to their business launch, so finding ways to deliver training conveniently and time-efficiently is key. You could consider providing virtual business support through online tutorials, forums and one-to-one video calls.
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5. Invest in a wide-reaching marketing campaign
It’s your responsibility to develop a compelling marketing plan for the whole franchise, especially if franchisees contribute to a central advertising fund.
In short, franchisees expect their franchisor to pull their weight when it comes to marketing, creating quality advertising schemes and boosting brand awareness. Once you’ve created brand-level promotional material, individual franchisees can set about attracting customers in their local areas.
6. Be present and approachable
People think of franchisors as busy entrepreneurs, with an endless list of tasks to complete and jobs to oversee. But you also have a responsibility to support your franchisees, and being available to talk and provide guidance at the drop of a hat will help you build trust with your investors.
To further demonstrate your commitment to your franchisees’ success, you could make personal visits to their franchise units, offering real help as they complete their day-to-day tasks.
7. Regularly review franchisees’ financial performance
If you wait for franchisees to come to you when their franchise units are struggling, they may leave it too late to reverse the damage. To avoid this eventuality - and give your investors peace of mind - ask them to share performance data with you on a regular basis.
Not only will this approach help you identify potential issues well in advance, but it should also give you the chance to nurture your relationship with your franchisees.
Unfortunately, once a franchise is created, the franchisors often lack full visibility and insight into the work being performed by their franchisees. All that effort the franchisor puts into developing training guides, adhering to legal regulations and vetting their franchisees can seem pointless if they cannot even control their business after it’s been created.
—Todd Stewart, Dispatch
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8. Encourage open and honest feedback
According to Gallup, businesses with managers who receive feedback are 12.5 percent more productive and 8.9 percent more profitable than those with managers who don’t. Also, while many customers will simply stop using a company, just one out of 26 people with a complaint will raise it with the business (Esteban Kolsky).
So, talking to franchisees can be an effective way to get feedback. Try to encourage all forms of communication. And if you don’t have the chance to meet face-to-face on a regular basis, make sure people can offer their thoughts over the internet or phone.
9. Show franchisees respect
Your franchisees are your business partners, not your employees, so you should treat them as such. Establishing a respectful atmosphere will help you develop a pool of happy and engaged entrepreneurs with a genuine desire to grow the business.
The research is clear; employers who don’t make their workers feel empowered and respected have a 35 percent chance of retaining them in the long term (LinkedIn). Meanwhile, employees who are happy in their role are much more likely to form a long-lasting bond with the business - and the same goes for franchisees.
10. Create a family culture
A franchisee might be exceeding targets and making more money than they’d expected - but if they don’t feel part of a welcoming, supportive franchise, they probably won’t be very happy. Being present, welcoming feedback and acting respectfully will go a long way, but there are many more ways to develop a positive business culture for your franchise.
Also, it’s in your interests to take this point seriously. Executives who rate their culture as “extremely healthy” are 1.5 times more likely to boost their average revenue by over 15 percent across three years than other companies (Grant Thornton and Oxford Economics).
More franchisor tips on how to help franchisees succeed
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Alice Tuffery, Point Franchise ©