With growing concern over the effectiveness of the Franchising Code of Conduct and allegations of misleading behaviour rampant within the sector, what can franchisors do to help steady the ship?
The last 12 months has seen much contention for the sector, with a rise in franchisee dissatisfaction, however in order to repair fractured relationships, Greg Nathan, Founder of the Franchise Relationships Institute (FRI) believes franchisors need to go back to basics.
“Because of the Parliamentary Inquiry, we’ve seen a sensitivity to how franchisees are treated by companies,” Nathan said.
“One of the main drivers for change is education for franchise support staff or head office staff. We’re seeing now a change of dialect where head office workers are now referred to as support staff; it’s a reflection of culture.”
To curb the growing concern, and help franchisors rebuild strained relationships, Nathan and the FRI have established a series of ‘Culture of Franchising’ workshops.
The workshops are designed to provide education and information for franchisors and franchisor support staff to help better understand the needs and demands of a franchisee.
“The reason we’re running these events is that we’re getting some feedback that the executive head office teams appear disconnected from the franchise reality,” Nathan said.
In the past, franchisors established head office or support staff to aid franchisees in daily business operations, however Nathan believes that current communication practices could be a significant factor in franchisee dissatisfaction.
“When a franchisee calls in, there is an attitude that they are seen of as an interruption,” Nathan said.
“It’s similar to a bad culture of customer service, where the customer service staff view the customers as an intrusion rather than their reason for being. We don’t encourage any of our franchisor partners to view their franchisees as customers however; they are the most important stakeholder in the network and must be given top priority.”
“These Culture of Franchising workshops are aimed at giving support staff the skills to the turn that situation around. Rather than get defensive when a franchisee calls in, as a support officer you can find out what the problem is, develop a solution and help get them back on track.”
At the Culture of Franchising workshops, franchisors and support staff will be introduced to a range of effective communication practices focused on the different motivations, goals and aspirations of their franchisees.
“We’ll be presenting across a range of topics including; the franchising journey or lifecycle, what the franchisees will need from you when they start out and how those needs evolve. On an emotional level, what they need from you to feel confident and supported and on a business level, how they can make money and deliver on the brand promise,” Nathan said.
For franchisors and support staff, the reality of day-to-day operations is vastly different from their franchisee counterparts and often it can be hard to get into that mindset.
“The time frame that franchisors and support staff work under is very different to the time frame that franchisees work under,” Nathan said.
“If you haven’t run a small business, it is very hard to empathise. Our goal is to give them that empathy.”
Franchisors who are able to connect and develop meaningful relationships with their franchisees are far better positioned for mutual success.
A report from the FRI published in Journal of Business and Psychology found that brand passion and perceived franchisor care were major contributors to franchisee satisfaction.
Nathan said that having a dedicated team of support staff at all stages of the business that can empathise with the franchisee journey would better equip franchisees with the tools for continued success.
“It doesn’t matter what level you are in the structure, whether you’re the head of marketing all the way down to the casual receptionist, everyone can benefit.”
The Culture of Franchising workshops will be held from August 20-28 across Australia. For more information regarding ticketing, locations and times, click here.