Forging a successful franchisor-franchisee relationship is a necessity for franchise success. This can be achieved most successfully via a balance of professionalism, dependability and hands-on leadership. In this article, we’re going to explore why it’s so important for franchisors to regularly visit franchisees.
Most franchisors have a lot on their plate. But although managing a thriving company and meeting the needs of their many franchisees is a busy job, it’s key that franchisors reserve some time in their schedule for site visits.
Meeting franchisees face-to-face on a regular basis comes with a host of different business benefits. Read on to discover just nine of the most important.
What is a franchisor visit?
This is when a franchisor pays a visit to a franchisee. For franchisees, these visits might seem intimidating at first, but they’re not just an inspection or a performance review. They’re a chance to connect, catch up, and voice any concerns or suggestions.
The franchisor is, simultaneously:
- An ambassador for the business
- A business consultant
- An operations expert
- A marketer
- A coach
- A trainer
- A facilitator
Franchisees should take these visits as a chance to learn and grow, rather than viewing them as something to feel intimidated by.
Why is a franchisor visit important?
A franchisor visit is imperative for effective chain management, as it gives an insight into the day-to-day runnings of the franchise.
Though the most obvious benefit to regular site visits is building up rapport and trust between franchisor and franchisee, a site visit is also a chance for franchisors to:
1. Assess whether any training is needed
During your visit, you’ll be able to determine whether or not any additional staff training is needed. As a franchisor, you may be able to offer that training yourself, via a programme of mentoring. You might also choose to bring in outside help, if you feel it’s warranted.
2. Assess the usage and usefulness of supplies
Being on-site offers you the opportunity to assess supplies. You can look at what’s being used, what isn’t, and figure out how to reduce supply costs for your franchisees.
3. Offer financial assistance if needed
If a particular franchisee is experiencing a cash flow crisis, it may be better to assess the situation in person, and offer support and advice where needed.
You need to get all the facts you can about the franchise opportunities you’re interested in. The best way to do that is to talk to franchisees.
—Joel Libava, United States Small Business Association
4. Improve the profitability of the entire company by gathering key data
Visiting franchisees is a great time to gather data about important business performance metrics, like cashflow, customer loyalty and percentage of complaints and returns. Keeping a keen eye on all this important information will allow you to push in the right direction and improve the overall profitability of the company.
5. Maintain customer service standards
Taking the time to study and assess customer service at each individual franchise will allow you to maintain a high standard across the business, and give you the chance to address issues and make improvements quickly.
6. Share the company-wide vision and brand values
While franchisees and staff members will have all the information they need regarding the chain, an in-person reminder is a great way to refresh memories regarding the company-wide vision and brand values.
>> Read more:
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7. Answer important questions and engage in honest communication
In this digital age, with instant communication at our fingertips, it’s easy to forget how effective face-to-face conversations can be. Factors like tone and facial expression can really help to bridge the gap and soften a conversation that could be frosty over the phone. Franchisor visits encourage open and honest communication, giving franchisees a chance to clearly address any concerns.
8. Resolve issues immediately, rather than further down the line
If issues arise during your visit, or past issues are brought up by the franchisee, being there in person gives you the opportunity to resolve things immediately. This means everyone can get on with their work, and continue to head in the right direction.
9. Listen to franchisee expansion insights
When you’re considering territory expansion, it’s key to gather all the insight that you can. And one of the best sources? Your franchisees.
How can a franchisor improve the effectiveness of their visit?
Trying to slot a site visit into an already busy schedule can be difficult. For franchisors, preparing in advance in order to improve the effectiveness of a visit is essential. Here are some top tips for doing exactly that:
1. Work up a joint agenda
Contact your franchisee and discuss the agenda beforehand. Doing this gives the franchisee space to discuss any concerns they may like to go over with you, which should give you an idea of how much time you will need to set aside.
2. Have a clear purpose for your visit, and communicate this
Telling a franchisee that you’re visiting can cause stress, so make sure you clearly communicate the reasons behind your visit, giving them the opportunity to prepare. Helping them to understand what can be expected from your visit should help, too.
3. Give people your complete attention
During your communication with the franchisee and staff members, try to make sure you’re giving them your full attention. This will show them that you’re a dedicated and trustworthy franchisor.
4. Remain friendly but professional
Being kind and personable goes a long way, but it’s also important to keep your visit solidly on a professional track. Check in on how your franchisee is doing, while also discussing the business at hand.
>> Read more:
- 5 Qualities of a Successful Franchisor
- 4 Things Franchisees Never Have Time for But Are Essential for Running a Successful Business
- How to Launch a Franchise and Get Noticed
- 4 Elements of a Successful Franchise
- How to Start a New Business on a Shoe-String Budget
- The Ultimate Guide to Franchising Success
What should franchisees do to prepare for a visit?
Receiving communication from your franchisor informing you of an intended visit can be daunting. However, they should give you notice, providing you with more than enough time to prepare. Stay productive in the meantime, and as the visit approaches, lean on these tips for franchisees:
- Decide which (if any) staff members need to be present. There’s no need to have more people on-site than necessary. Speak to your franchisor and discuss the agenda. From there, you can figure out who’s required.
- If a meeting is required, do you need to book a space? It’s likely that the franchisor will want to have a private meeting with you once the visit is complete. If this is required, make sure you have an appropriate meeting space booked and ready if there isn’t one on your business premises.
- Communicate with staff. As the franchisor has forewarned you about their visit, it’s only fair that you offer the same courtesy to staff. If the agenda states that the franchisor would like to tour a specific area, inform the necessary staff members of this.
- Think about the key messages you would like to convey to the franchisor. It can be helpful to set aside some time before the visit to think about what you might like the franchisor to see and/or know. Is there a particular area you’re really proud of? Or do you have any questions for them?
How can a franchisor deliver feedback successfully?
Once the visit is complete, it’s likely that franchisors will have feedback for franchisees, as well as general points of discussion. To offer feedback in a constructive manner, try to do the following:
- Establish trust beforehand - in a trusting relationship, feedback is more likely to be respected and well-received
- Balance negatives with positive points
- Be specific with your feedback - if you’re asking for a change to happen, how would you suggest that your franchisee implement that change?
- Talk on-site, in person, on the day - don’t wait to send feedback via email
- Don’t make comments personal - keep things business-focused
- Don’t forget to ask what you, as the franchisor, can do to make your next visit more useful to the franchisee
- Finish on a high note by congratulating the franchisee about what they’re doing well
Regular, effective visits lead to long-term franchise success
Effective, regular franchisor visits are a key part of successful franchise management. These visits are necessary, and allow franchisors and franchisees alike to run their businesses smoothly.
Interested in a career as a franchisee? Browse Point Franchise’s UK franchise directory to discover quality investment opportunities.
Cara Squires, Point Franchise ©