Communication is an essential part of every business (and of life!). The franchisor franchisee relationship needs to have good communication because a misunderstanding can lead to potential loss in clients and revenue.
Nowadays, it’s just not practical to think about calling people on the phone or going to meet them every time you need to transmit a message. Furthermore, if your company is growing and it has 100+ franchises, a communication strategy like that can cost you a lot of time and money.
In this post, I’ll go over some alternatives that can help you save time, money and can be effective if done right. Plus, I’ll include some tips that will let you take full advantage of these means of communication.
Tips to a Better Franchisor / Franchisee Communication
Before we begin, we’ll go over a couple of things that can help you have a better relationship with your franchisees overall.
First, as a franchisor, you need to know that an unclear message can be more damaging than no message at all. By sending out an unclear message, you can cause a riot in your business. Make sure you’re getting your point across and getting help from an external source if need be.
Secondly, you, the franchisor, need to have an open mind and be available to answer your franchisees’ doubts and concerns. Of course, there are some rules that aren’t up for discussion but, by being unapproachable, you can hurt that communication flow. This could make your franchisees feel that they can’t talk to you or that doing it won’t change anything. So break down the barriers and let’s get to it!
Note that, while these tools I’ll go over are great to carry out messages on day to day life, I would still advice meeting your franchisees face to face on a more or less regular basis.
Calling them on the phone is another great way to get a more personal approach but by using Skype, you get to see them without having to take a trip to do so. This gives you a chance to know them more and get closer to them as a person and not just a username.
Regional meetings and franchisee advisory counsil, are also good opportunities to open up the communication channels within your company.
Communication Tools for Effective Franchise Relationships
A weekly newsletter or massive email can help you get one message around to all of your franchisees. With it you can update your franchisees about general current events: let them know about what’s going on with corporate, important dates, business or marketing strategies, statistics, changes in branding, etc.
Sharing these makes your franchisees feel part of a team and aware what’s going on with the business. There are many newsletter services out there that can make it easier for you to spread the word about important information (like Mailchimp).
You can also use this space to inspire your franchisees: from inspirational quotes that fit your line of business to your thoughts about a certain problem. If you are interested in local content, you (or your marketing team) can send out a list of topic ideas for your franchisees to write on.
On the other hand, you can share stories of success. For example, if a certain idea works for a franchisee, share his achievement so the others are inspired to do the same. Give credit where credit is due and make an example of best practices, problem solving, etc.
By including these in a newsletter, you give importance to your franchisees’ work, give them something to aspire to and a solution for when a similar problem presents on other franchise.
Videos and Documents
Be it with videos, graphics or other documents, training is very important for communication. It’s a kind of support that can prevent misunderstandings because you’re giving your franchisees the information firsthand.
These can include guidelines, general rules, brand compliance, etc. that let them know about the business and how to go about it. By addressing the core concepts, they can further understand what your business is about.
You can have your franchisees go back to these training documents if they have any questions further down the road. This is a way to unclog the communication flow because they already have the answers to them. Just make sure that these documents are up to date for all your franchisees so there’s no confusion between them.
A big part of communication is feedback, especially when it comes to franchises. Franchisees need to know about you and you need to know about them because they are the ones who are running your business and they know how people are perceiving your product or service.
A collaborative effort where the parts are integrated and the information is socialized can make everybody’s learning experience better. By hearing other people’s opinions, you can learn more and feed off of their ideas.
In it, you can start a thread (a single conversation) where you can propose a topic and hear your franchisees’ ideas about it. Or you could open up a brainstorm forum where your franchisees let you know about their opinions and input ideas for certain areas in the business.
By taking in their opinions you can not only get very good advice from people that know your company from the inside, but you show them that their ideas have value and that they have the power to influence and improve your business. They are engaged because they feel that they aren’t just being handled like a puppet.
Another way to take advantage of this tool is to answer questions. As simple as that. By giving your franchisees the power to post their doubts and concerns on a platform for everyone to see, you are enabling franchisee collaboration. If any of your franchisees post a thread with a question, anyone, you or your franchisees, can help him/her out. This makes them feel part of a team and that they are not alone.
For example, here at Empowerkit, we have a tool named “Pulse” and while it’s not exactly a forum, it works like an instant messenger where your franchisees and you can share experiences, doubts and ideas. By being integrated, you build a more solid company that cares about its workers and workers that care about their company.
I know what you’re probably thinking: social media is everywhere, how much more can you talk about it? But that’s exactly the point: social media IS everywhere and it’s likely that your franchisees are on it. By enabling them to have a local profile of their business and by adding them to a Facebook group, for example, you are favoring a direct and instant communication flow. Again, communication and feedback go hand in hand.
Sharing a video or document, posting a comment, giving a “Like”, retweeting, etc. is a quick and sure fire way to get your message across. By taking advantage of social media you can almost ensure that the “memo” was delivered because it’s used so often.
Remember that franchises are different so you need to pick the methods that best work for your business. These technological alternatives are a way to keep in touch when your franchisees are far away or for when you have so many that it’s difficult to keep track of each one. Plus, by sharing information via Internet, you run less of a risk of certain documents getting lost or tossed away.
Communication is a key ingredient and by being efficient about it, your work can flow naturally. In addition, it can improve your business management and the way your franchisees feel about your business. So, what are you waiting for? Communicate!
If you have any questions regarding this post or Empowerkit, don’t be afraid to ask!