A good franchisor will try and visit their franchisees as regularly as they can. While it’s not always possible to do it as often as we’d like, there are several good reasons for trying to do so. Here, we explore why it’s important for franchisors to visit franchisees and take a look at what these visits can achieve.
1. Maintain standards
One of the critical reasons franchisors visit franchisees is to ensure standards are being maintained across the entire organisation. While it might be possible to get some insight into how a business is being managed by looking at things like customer feedback and complaints, it’s unlikely you'll get a complete picture studying a unit from afar. Visiting the franchise in person allows you to experience the unit firsthand, providing a more accurate picture of operations and revealing the extent to which standards are being maintained.
2. Better understand the unique needs of units
Though the same problem may sometimes surface throughout the entire franchise network, each franchisee is likely to face their own unique issues and to have their own specific set of needs and requirements. One of the most important ways successful franchises ensure they're responding to the needs of their franchisees is by paying them independent visits. This allows franchisors to identify problems that aren’t occurring elsewhere in the franchise network and provide bespoke solutions. Not all issues can be tackled from central headquarters; some require a local touch.
3. Provide on-site training
A franchisor visit can be the perfect opportunity to offer updated training programmes, provide franchisees with new training material, and to run on-site course and accreditations. Businesses are in a constant state of flux and adaptation – their staff need to be re-skilled and retrained on a regular basis if they’re to keep up with changes in the industry and new technologies. Due to logistical difficulties, it’s often a challenge to organise training exercises in a remote location. Not all franchisees or members of staff will find it convenient to attend and, consequently, some will miss out on an educational opportunity. On-site training during franchisor visits is an excellent way to tackle this problem.
4. Offer more specific marketing advice
To understand a particular franchise unit's client base and assess the impact marketing and promotional materials are having, it's often necessary to view them in person. In retail, this may mean taking a look at how stock is set out and promoted in-store. It may mean encouraging greater use of loyalty schemes at the checkout. It may mean looking at sales figures and working out what's going wrong and how to change it. The critical aspect here is that much of what you’ll discover on a franchisor visit, couldn’t be found out any other way.
5. Make sure you’re on the same page
The franchisor and franchisee need to see eye to eye if they’re to make the relationship work and build a sustainable and mutually beneficial future. It is not possible for the two parties to pull in opposite directions and for the franchise model to function as it should. At some point, the relationship will break, and individual units will begin to lose the support they require, while the franchisor will also lose the control they desire. An on-site visit is a perfect opportunity to ensure that both parties are on the same page, working towards common goals, and are content working together.
6. Allows for questions to be asked
Franchisees can often feel as though they’re not given a suitable forum to ask questions or air grievances. This can lead to disillusionment with the franchise and foster a sense of abandonment. When visiting franchisees, franchisors can dedicate a portion of their visit to talking through the issues the franchisee faces on a daily basis, explore how they feel about the relationship, and look into ways it can be improved.
7. Resolve problems immediately
Once these problems have been identified, it’s a good idea to try and resolve them quickly. Not only do visits allow the franchisor and franchisee to explore solutions together, it provides the franchisor with an opportunity to take action immediately. Rather than letting the problem fester, they can demonstrate their willingness to assist in whatever way possible.
8. Build rapport and trust
If you talk to existing franchisees about what constitutes the best franchises to own, most will tell you that they prefer franchise arrangements with a franchisor that’s trustworthy, willing to listen, and easy to speak to. One of the essential ways franchisors develop this rapport is through on-site visits. While conversations over the phone or via email may be suitable for the vast majority of enquiries and day-to-day communications, they don’t allow for the same personal connection as face-to-face conversation.
9. Decide on a future direction
Having taken a look at a franchise and explored where it’s going wrong and what it’s doing right, franchisors can then sit down to discuss plans for the future. This conversation will involve both parties making commitments to one another and agreeing to a shared vision of the future. Not only does this mean they're working towards the same goal, but it also means that both parties are aware of their responsibilities going forward.
10. It demonstrates commitment
Finally, taking the time and making an effort to visit franchisees demonstrates a franchisor's commitment to their business. It's all too easy for franchisors to collect their fee and remain at a safe distance while franchisees struggle through problems without the required support. However, a good franchisor will ensure that they're on-hand to assist whenever necessary. Visiting franchisees is one way of providing this practical assistance, though it also doubles as a symbolic demonstration of their commitment.
Visiting franchisees is important for franchisors because it offers another perspective from which to assess a business' shortcomings and look for resolutions. It also helps establish a healthy relationship between franchisee and franchisor and highlights the extent to which the franchisor will go to provide support. Put simply; on-site visits are an essential part of franchise management.
The Editorial Team, Point Franchise ©