The latest research shows more than half of surveyed franchisees have notched up an average tenure of 6.8 years in their franchise system.
So long-term franchisees have even more experience at their fingertips, and that presents specific challenges to franchise operations teams.
Adding value to mature franchisees was the theme for the recent National Franchise Operations Conference in Melbourne.
Greg Nathan, founder of Franchise Relationships Institute which organised and ran the one-day conference, released findings from FRI’s recent research.
When you compare the 53 percent of franchisees who are mature in their networks with field managers clocking up an average tenure of eight years in franchising generally, not just the current franchise, and senior executives in franchising an average 13 years across the industry, there is a weight of brand experience in the hands of franchisees.
“Most of the experience sits in the field among franchisees who have longer tenure than executives,” Nathan said.
“We need to respect the experience and knowledge that is sitting out there. We hear franchisees say all I want is acknowledgement and respect.”
About 20 percent of all franchise executives are GenY Millennials and there are attitudinal differences that can create difficulties when dealing with mature-tenure franchisees.
These franchisees are likely to believe younger executives have to earn their way in the organisation.
Franchisees who have outlasted management are critical of waffle and get sceptical when they go through processes or adopt concepts that don’t work.
“When you come out with new ideas, you need to cut to the chase,” said Nathan. Franchisees will say “‘How is it going to work? I’m not interested in the strategy plan’” he said.
A franchise support team will need to deal with franchisees who face particular challenges that are not work-related but which can have a devastating effect on the franchise they operate.
In fact one person in five every year goes through a significant crisis – that could include depression, divorce, addiction – Nathan pointed out.
“Have tools available when franchisees are going through a hard time, it shows that you are there with them,” he advised.
There is also the challenge of a changing franchise system.
“The business they bought into isn’t the same today. How do you move someone with you?” Nathan said.
Top considerations when working with mature-tenure franchisees
- Can experience relationship fatigue
- Are likely to hold most of your intellectual capital and cultural history
- Can be resentful of younger franchisor executives
- Get impatient with conceptual fluff
- Can get distracted and take their eyes off the business
- Are more likely to experience a personal or family crisis
- Can be grieving for the good old days
- May have legitimate concerns about reformation risk
The one-day conference was well-attended with breakout sessions, case studies, a keynote speaker and a panel of franchisees who shared with delegates what they wanted from operations.
Franchise companies at the conference included Bakers Delight, Bank of Queensland, Boost Juice, Clark Rubber, Choice Hotels, Domino’s, Endota Spa, First Class Capital, Gelatissimo, Hudsons Coffee,Just Cuts, Nando’s, Pandora, Poolwerx, Retail Food Group, Vision Personal Training, Weeding Women and Zambrero.