In the franchise world, having a triple-digit number of locations in over 30 countries is the ideal end goal for many companies.
At least, that’s what those outside of franchising seem to think. Yes, expansion is a definite measure of accomplishment, but what about the team that is responsible for reaching this end goal?
The true measure of success is having a franchise that is filled with business partners who work together in an effort to make meaningful contributions to the company as a whole. A franchise should be built upon franchisees who are passionate about what they are selling within their markets, and who realize that they are an integral part of the entire establishment.
Reaching this goal of global expansion is a definite possibility; however, franchises should first construct a system that nurtures a positive relationship and provides a solid foundation upon which franchisees can grow on their own.
Provide a Toolbox
Of the endless articles and blog posts discussing why franchisees fail, almost all name “lack of resources” as one of the primary causes. One key responsibility of a franchisor is to provide a sound infrastructure that makes consulting services, training programs and other valuable tools readily available for franchisees’ use.
A particularly useful tool that companies can offer include on-site field consultants assigned to specific markets that conduct regularly occurring “gut checks.” During these visits, corporate representatives can guide the franchisee by using best practices to optimize their procedures and provide necessary resources to continue offering the best service possible. Without this type of support, many partners may feel they are isolated and left to fend for themselves.
Collaboration Is Key
Think of a franchise as a wheel. Each franchisee is a cog in that wheel, and without one, the entire wheel will collapse. In order for a franchise to flourish, a system that encourages teamwork and collaboration should be put in place.
95% of The Little Gym’s best ideas come straight from its franchisees, further proving that there is value in listening to everything and being open to suggestions, whether it be from a local instructor, franchisee or corporate employee. One method of building a team-focused culture is to host an annual company-wide convention at which a substantial amount of time is dedicated to holding an open discussion. Bounce ideas off each other. These discussions could lead to the next ground-breaking business idea, and one can never predict where that idea can come from.
Open Lines of Communication
Be a mentor. Franchisee-franchisor relationships are not at all similar to the often used analogy of the parent-child dynamic. Franchisors aren’t simply telling the franchisee what to do, but are instead actively listening and working together to come up with a business strategy or solution to a problem. Touching base with franchise operators on a regular basis forms a bond and creates a level of comfort that will allow them to feel like they are able reach out if they need support.
Know Their Challenges
Being aware of franchisees’ daily trials can lead to formulating better practices from the top, which will then help lead the franchisee down a better track. Similar to keeping an open line of communication, empathizing with a franchisee will create feelings of trust and confidence.
Remember that challenges and potential failures happen at any level within a franchise. If there is a conflict, don’t just ignore it and hope that the issue at hand will vanish. Building a relationship off of understanding will let franchisees know that they are cared for, and aren’t being ignored.
Building a culture that fosters collaboration, cultivates mutual respect and provides the right amount of support for your franchisees will ultimately lead to the success of your franchise as a whole.
Alex Bingham oversees TLGI’s Domestic and International Franchise Service, Marketing, Training, and Brand Development departments. Alex has been with The Little Gym since 2002 and in that time has served in several different roles within the company, including running a corporate owned store as a Gym Director, working with franchise owners in both their pre-opening and ongoing operations as a Business Consultant, managing Franchise Service as a VP of Franchise Services, and several other responsibilities. Alex also co-owned a franchise for almost two years. In addition to the last 13+ years, Alex was also an instructor at The Little Gym of Scottsdale during college breaks in 1996-97 and previously was a student at the original The Little Gym from age 2 to age 5.