As a franchisor, it is your responsibility to ensure the entire franchise system is successful. However, not every franchisee is the same. You are often dealing with many different personalities and growth paths, and everyone may not be as immersed as you want them to be. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to create an environment that gives them the room and opportunity to engage. Ultimately, the more they are able to participate within the franchise system, the greater chance they have for success.
Below are four ways to get your franchisees more involved in the franchise system:
1. Communicate with your franchisees.
Although there are times when communication to the entire franchise system – such as emails and newsletters – are beneficial and necessary, nothing beats being able to connect with them one-on-one. Before you pick up the phone and give them a call, it is important to ask yourself, “why am I having this call?” As a CEO, your calls to franchisees should be about learning more about them and gaining insight on how their business is going. It is also an opportunity for them to know you are there to support them, so you should be asking questions like “how can I help you?,” “what’s working for you?,” and “what’s not working well and how can we change that?”
2. Have a yearly convention.
Franchise conventions are a great opportunity for the franchisee to get excited about the year to come and hear how involvement can be beneficial to them. Convention is always the most exciting time of the year for the franchisee. This is a chance for everyone to come together and spend time with one another while being recognized for their accomplishments over the past year. It serves as a reminder they belong to something larger than themselves.
An annual convention also encourages franchisees to reach higher. For example, during award ceremonies, franchisees may be inspired to do more in their communities when they see their peers doing it. Another way to leave them inspired is by hearing fellow franchisees speak at convention. Franchisees get a lot of value in hearing from each other, so it is important to think about how to include them in your convention.
Annual conventions also allow face-to-face conversations with a franchisor, without either party having to book an extra trip. As a franchisor, it is important to make yourself available by stopping into learning sessions or floating between rooms. You will find franchisees ask you more questions during convention because of the accessibility. Additionally, when franchisees are away from the daily grind of life they are able to think differently. Meaning, they have room to formulate questions they’ve always wanted to ask, but haven’t had the chance to process the information enough to form a question.
3. Reinforce good practices and offer leadership opportunities.
Often when people are given the right leadership opportunity, it inspires them to rise to the occasion. At City Wide, we have a Franchise Advisory Council. Members of this internal committee help strengthen our organization by providing recommendations to the Home Office based on feedback received from franchisees throughout the entire system. The franchisees voted onto this council have demonstrated their ability to successfully run their business while being engaged with the franchise system. Being given this opportunity motivates franchisees to put their best foot forward. It allows for the thought leaders and those who are already building strong relationships in their markets to get recognized for their work.
This council is beneficial to both the franchisee and you, the franchisor. For the franchisee, it gives them a chance to show their leadership skills, make the voices of their constituents heard, and build a stronger connection with the team at the Home Office. As the franchisor, having thought leaders represent your organization internally and within their own communities will help leave a lasting impact through system improvements and evolution.
4. Listen to your franchisees’ thoughts and opinions.
You can learn a multitude of things from your franchisees – they all have different perspectives and experience different challenges and opportunities in their markets.
Take the time to ask your franchisees questions and make room in the conversation for their feedback. In order to find sustainable happiness within your franchise they have to feel a sense of belonging, so allow them to have an open environment where feedback is welcome. Asking someone for their advice and actively listening to what they share makes them feel like a contributing member to the franchise. If you believe you can grow and learn from others, then you should always be seeking out your franchisees’ opinions. Hearing them may even spark new ideas on how you and your team can build a stronger business.
Remember, the only way to find out how to help a franchisee is to listen to what they have to say. Only then can you determine what you can do to help.
Jeff Oddo is the president of City Wide Maintenance and City Wide Franchise, a sales and management company in the building maintenance industry with more than 60 franchise locations across the United States and Canada.