Communicating with franchisees can be a challenge but there are ways to harness their energy and get them on side.
At some stage you will need to introduce changes to the franchise system, the operations manual, the royalties; or you will want to bring about a new strategy that takes the business to the next level – but in a way franchisees may not expect.
How you get this across to the franchise network will affect the success or failure of the initiative.
At the recent Franchise Management Forum organised jointly by the Franchise Advisory Centre and Griffith University’s Asia-Pacific Centre for Franchising Excellence a discussion on how to achieve buy-in came up with the following five points:
1. Build rapport
You need to speak to franchisees in their language and ensure the message you want to get across is clearly understood. Rather than push them into resisting the concept, help them identify with the decision and make it their own.
2. Face to face communication
Phone and email are easy communication channels, particularly with interstate franchisees, but nothing beats a face-to-face meeting.
3. Be honest and have agility
Transparency is important in a franchise relationship and franchisees appreciate when franchisors admit mistakes. But it’s also essential to pinpoint what has been learned in the process so you can adopt new working methods and get back on track.
4. Understand your franchisees
Everyone has an individual personality and each one of us will approach a situation, and a relationship, in a different manner. Your franchisees are the same. Some will always be positive, others cast a negative light on things. Get to know who will be easy to deal with and who will argue, and customise your approach accordingly.
5. The art of persuasion
Communication is all about persuasion and not manipulation and it can be handled with elegance and style. If you show wisdom, and listen to franchisees, your communications will improve and the network will benefit.