10 Ways to Enhance System Support Among Franchisees
Having a franchisee culture of support can lead to greater satisfaction, better overall performance for the entire network.
Cultivating a system of support is a key part of any successful franchise organization. Having a strong network with the right resources and tools can help franchisees improve performance and better serve their customers.
Here are some simple ways franchisors can enhance the support systems they provide to their owners.
1. Promote Technology
Technology is critical in any successful business. Customer demands are greater today than at any other time and the technology on which a franchise system runs needs to live up to customers’ expectations. With the right technology, a franchisee can integrate customer requests, vendor involvement, order fulfillment and much more across a wide network. Education and regular technology updates ensure systems are always operating most effectively.
2. Develop Brand Standards
With the emergence and growth of social media and other online tools, brand reputation is more important than ever. Brand standards ensure that franchisees are correctly and consistently representing the overarching company across all mediums. The actions of each franchisee impact the entire franchise system, so maintaining a consistent brand will provide consumers with peace of mind that they can experience the same level of service regardless of which location they visit. By providing very specific brand guidelines for franchisees to follow, operations representatives can better ensure the brand is represented appropriately.
Some of the best opportunities for franchise sales are existing owners.
3. Encourage Multi-Center Ownership
One of the goals of any franchisor is to grow the system – that is, sell more franchises. While getting new franchisees into the system is important, the quality of franchisees is equally as critical. Some of the best opportunities for franchise sales are found among existing owners. They are already familiar with the system and are invested in the brand. They represent a potentially great opportunity for growing the system. Training programs specifically designed for those operating multiple locations can help encourage franchisees to take the leap into expanding to another location. Additionally, offering incentives and providing recognition to those who expand can enhance the feeling of support for franchisees.
4. Provide Training
When opening a franchise, training is essential. It’s important to offer a comprehensive training program for new franchisees designed to help develop the day-to-day operational skills and knowledge needed to own and operate a new location. Franchisees should be educated in the appropriate business model and brand standards and have access to tools for ongoing support after opening. Training shouldn’t stop after a franchisee opens shop. Ongoing educational and training opportunities can help further develop people on new programs or materials.
5. Look for New Revenue Sources
To run a successful and profitable business, it is critical to continuously add products and services to help create new revenue sources. A great way for a franchisor to provide support to franchisees is to offer them new products and services, enabling them to acquire new sales and customers. Franchisees can be a great source of new ideas. Cultivate open communication so they can provide feedback and make suggestions for improvement.
6. Share Industry News and Research
It’s important for franchisees to be educated on all aspects of their respective industry. By staying up to date on industry issues and customer feedback, they can better understand their businesses and customers. Providing relevant news through trade and industry newsletters can keep franchisees informed. In addition, franchisor research on customer feedback can help educate franchisees as to which products, services and programs result in the highest return. The franchisor should share insights with franchisees about the products and sales techniques across the network that have been researched and proven profitable.
7. Encourage Customer Service
Customer service can make or break a franchise system. Great service can inspire a customer to return and recommend the business to a friend, but poor customer service almost always turns people away. It’s important to provide the necessary training and tools for franchisees to manage customer service issues. However, the franchisor can assist a franchisee with customer service when appropriate. If a service issue is elevated to the franchisor, the support team can work with the franchisee to resolve the issue in a quick and structured manner, taking some of the customer service burden off the busy franchisee. For customers, this shows that they are being taken seriously and the franchisees can continue to concentrate on day-to-day operations.
8. Facilitate Communication Between Franchisees
Being a franchisee or small-business owner can be isolating. One of the benefits of a franchise system is that there are hundreds, or even thousands, of other owners who may be dealing with similar challenges or opportunities. Facilitating open communication between franchisees not only encourages the sharing of best practices, but also provides the ability for franchisees to network among themselves. This can be achieved on a smaller scale with company newsletters and communications, but an online platform is much more versatile. An internal online platform provides a secure location for franchisees to post questions and have discussions. It’s a great place to share best practices or get live feedback directly from the franchisees on things that are happening throughout the organization.
9. Facilitate Communication With the Executive/HQ Team:
A key to cultivating confidence of support for franchisees is ensuring they feel the franchisor support team is present and actively working on their behalf. Franchisees need to have an open line of communication with their company leaders. Company newsletters and online communication platforms can be extremely helpful, but nothing can replace the power of a face-to-face visit. Networking meetings and company events with executives and headquarters employees are helpful to communicate new information to franchisees or simply provide a forum to answer questions.
10. Provide a Central Destination for Resources
Providing resources, training and communication forums for franchisees is only useful when everything is in a central location that is easy to access. By creating a centralized online destination, franchisees have a resource with all of the information they need in one place. This hub of information can include everything from downloadable marketing materials and training resources to company news. An online destination also provides the opportunity for customized content for each franchisee.
Every business is different and has its own needs, but these tips are great starting points for any franchisor to work toward enhancing their system of support for franchisees. Having a franchisee culture of support can lead to greater satisfaction and better overall performance for the entire network.
By Don Higginson is senior vice president of franchise services of The UPS Store and a member of the IFA Franchise Relations Committee. Find him at fransocial.franchise.org via the directory.