Franchises are meant to be big. Without the promise of significant scale, there is no point in the major investments every new franchise demands.
Everything from network expansion to branding and legal setup all come at a cost, but there is a hidden pitfall in expansion that’s often overlooked in lieu of line items that pack a punch on the bottom line—the challenge of staying connected with a growing group of franchisees.
In the beginning, everyone knows everyone. Life on the ground floor can be both exciting and simple, and it’s easy to stay in touch. But as the franchise vision becomes a reality and more new people join the team, it becomes harder to pay attention to which franchisees are in the loop and notice who might be falling through the cracks. Isolated franchisees may not show up in the cost spectrum right away, but they could end up crashing the brand.
To build and maintain a positive culture of cohesion, solid communication has to be emphasized at every level. Without it, morale and performance could plummet.
Build a thorough organizational structure
One person businesses can revolve around a single leader or two, but franchises have to be prepared for grander development with a solid organizational structure that plans for today as well as tomorrow. Accessibility is everything when it comes to building a healthy franchise, but for any ship to sail smoothly, every sailor can’t
have access to the captain 24-7. Instead, leaders should lean on a structure that empowers regional developers to be an extension of the corporate team. Regional developers who serve as both franchisees and corporate spokespeople can be your eyes and ears, relay vital messages, and understand daily franchise life.
Notable franchises invest time and resources in educating the entire team on the brand’s systems, scripts, personality, and strategies. Emphasis on education goes double for regional developers, who can personally pass on their knowledge to new, seasoned, and potential franchisees. It’s not easy to educate every single franchisee
flawlessly, but if they can rely on a solid backup system for help, they’re more likely to ask questions quickly instead of waiting around for rescue.
Send specialists to oversee operations, especially in the beginning
A vetted group of regional developers is an asset, but new franchisees will need more than supervision when they first get started. A specialized field trainer should be dedicated to holding hands, answering questions, and being on-site just before and during the first few opening days. Telephone and email support is always great, but there is nothing like having a human being there to help when you need it most.
Keep checking in
To keep the team connected, don’t rely only on field trainers and regional reps to guide franchisees through every process. Conference calls aren’t enough, either. Every week, someone from corporate leadership should reach out to franchisees directly by phone. A personal phone call from one human to another makes people feel important, plus gives franchisees an opportunity to ask questions or raise issues they might not feel comfortable bringing up on a group call.
Don’t just ask about numbers
Numbers are an indication of profit and performance, but they can’t even begin to tell the whole story of how a franchisee is really doing. Reach out on multiple levels to ask if franchisees need guidance. If someone is particularly successful, find out what they’re doing to stay on top and shine a spotlight on how they achieved
wins. If they’re struggling, offer to help by connecting them with experts and introducing them to other franchisees who have overcome similar obstacles.
Develop a culture
Blast emails are a useful communication tool, but the finest mass marketing on earth can’t build a meaningful culture that people will feel proud to be part of. Mega-messaging keeps people on the same page and can serve as a support for an existing culture, but it’s no substitute. Every level of your franchise team structure should ooze
a positive attitude that faces challenges directly, solves problems, and encourages teamwork to drive success for everyone.
Guide franchisees away from communication cracks
Some franchisees will have a harder time feeling connected at first, especially when they’re caught in the fray of running a business, but that’s no excuse for letting anyone fall through a communication crack. Track all communications in a shared system that includes notes, schedules, and a log of contact dates and times. Don’t let a franchisee slide into a communication gap.
Communication is about connection, but it takes concentrated effort at every leadership level to maintain a healthy
verbal exchange network. However, building a reliable structure and implementing a strong system with checks and balances will amount to a happy culture and hearty profits in the present and the long term.
Kyle Zagrodzky is president of OsteoStrong, the health and wellness system that boosts bone and muscle strength in less than 10 minutes a week using scientifically proven osteogenic loading concepts. OsteoStrong introduced a new era in modern fitness and aging prevention two years ago and has since helped thousands of clients between ages eight and 92 improve strength, balance, endurance, and bone density. In 2014, the brand signed commitments with nine regional developers to launch 500 new locations across America.