Staying in touch takes effort as brands grow
Clear, regular communication is the key to success for any growing franchise. It has the power to make or break companies, and compared with legal fees, the cost of communication is downright tiny. So if communication with franchisees is that significant, why do many companies fall short?
When a new franchise is starting out, people know each other and it’s easy to stay in touch. However, as the family grows in both number and geographical bandwidth, making people feel genuinely connected can become an uphill climb. In a growing business, relying on quality field support is the key to maintaining healthy communication with franchisees.
Make education a priority. Spend time and resources educating the entire team on the brand, systems, scripts and strategies. Regional developers, field trainers and franchisees should have comprehensive, regular training. Thorough education means everyone is on the same page, which results in a more cohesive brand.
Furthermore, when franchisees know they can lean on trained regional developers, there is less pressure on corporate leadership to be all things to all people.
Construct a solid organizational structure. Large-scale organizations have to rely on a hierarchy to function. Ideally, every franchise should have regional developers to grow territories, but the other half of their role is to offer franchisees another layer of support. Regional developers can check on progress, give advice and communicate key messages. If there is an issue with a single franchise, regional developers can take the lead and allow the corporate office to work on the overall business.
Create a purposeful culture. Blast emails have their place, but they aren’t enough to build a meaningful culture. Foster an attitude at every organizational tier that emphasizes a positive attitude, team mentality, facing challenges directly and solving problems to make everyone successful. The burden for building a culture can’t rest on key leadership, who can’t be in constant contact and know the daily struggles franchisees face. Regional developers can.
Don’t make it all about numbers. Every business depends on good numbers, but numbers don’t always tell the whole story. If a franchise is doing great, ask how they’re achieving those goals and share their tips with the team. If a franchise is suffering, regional developers should find out what’s going on and offer specific help, whether it’s one on one or by connecting franchisees to other owners or corporate experts.
Rely on field specialists. Send a field trainer for the first week a new franchise is open to get the business started right. Most new franchisees will require some hand-holding. Continue offering telephone and email support throughout the franchise life cycle to help eliminate issues before they can become bigger problems.
Beware of cracks in the system. Communication is vital in any franchise, but no matter how connected the group overall may seem, it’s easy for a single franchisee to fall through the cracks. Track every level of communication in a shared system that shows who recently interfaced with which franchisee. If someone is about to slip through a gap, it will be easier to spot early.
Check in—and keep checking in. Corporate leadership can’t rely only on field trainers and regional reps to guide franchisees. Someone from the corporate office should contact franchisees directly every week by phone, which is more personal and gives franchisees the chance to ask questions or raise issues they might not discuss on a conference call. Even if you just a leave a message, knowing they have a real connection to every level of the franchise will make owners and operators feel like part of the team.
Kyle Zagrodzky is president of OsteoStrong, the Nashville-based health and wellness system designed to boost bone and muscle strength. Reach him at 615.656.1340; firstname.lastname@example.org.