Franchise Relations Dialogue Community — An Avenue to Building Positive Relationships
There are many educational sessions, programs, guides and articles that have been developed over the years by leaders within the franchise community.
By Barbara Moran-Goodrich, CFE
The relationship between the franchisor and franchisees within a system is greater than any normal business relationship you would have with a supplier or a business account. The franchisor-franchisee relationship is much like a marriage. There is a courtship between the parties, an offer of intent to join together, the preparation for the commencement of the relationship, and the overall ceremony joining the two parties in a long-term commitment with the intention to work together following a proven business system.
And as with any marriage, there is an extensive process to ending the relationship should one or both parties desire. In fact, when ending this relationship, you hope that it will go smoothly; however, sometimes it can be just like a difficult divorce, which creates stress on everyone involved. This is why the relationship you develop between one another is vital to the overall success of the relationship and your system.
Cultivating the Relationship
Establishing and maintaining positive relationships within a franchise system takes a sustained effort. It can not only be arduous at times, but also overwhelming. Knowing where to turn for advice and information on cultivating positive franchise relationships is a key component of the equation.
One of the most significant benefits of being a member of the International Franchise Association is the ability to access a body of members that collectively possess a wealth of varied experiences and knowledge. Through your IFA membership, you have the ability to network with your peers and to share and benefit from each other’s past experiences and knowledge.
IFA Relationship Tools
That is why I consider the tool that has been recently launched to be the most valuable accomplishment that has the power to change how we obtain information between members. With this tool we have the ability to achieve the goals that we have all strived for in having successful, healthy relationships with our franchisees. The association’s Franchise Relationship Committee, in conjunction with several IFA board members, oversaw the development of a member-to-member communication tool within FranSocial’s web pages, fransocial.franchise.org, specifically about enhancing relationships. This tool is the Franchise Relations Dialogue Community to which all IFA members are linked. All we have to do is to utilize it as a resource for questions, sounding board, feedback provider to others and a point of access to the library of programs and guides that had been on the IFA website.
In addition to this amazing tool that has been developed to enhance our ability to communicate with each other, but also access information on relationship building, there are other programs, guides and tools to provide assistance. Highlighted here are just a few of those tools that are available to IFA members now in the Franchise Relations Dialogue Community located in FranSocial.
- Let’s start with what is available in a downloadable format that can be implemented in your system or even communicated to your team members. Within this library/resource center is a guide called “Effective Development of a Franchise Support Organization.” This text was developed with the intent of helping franchisors develop an effective operational support system within their organizations. The information that is covered within this guide is invaluable and covers topics about franchise support principles, basic elements of support, support standards, goals, objectives and measurements of the support organization. In addition, this guide also provides an appendix of sample support forms and letters that can be implemented within a system.
- Another informative guide that has been developed for the IFA is the “Successions Planning and Transfers Handbook.” It was created to be used interchangeably, by either a franchisee or franchisor, as a guide to help in planning for the eventual exit from your business. This guide explains why a succession plan is needed, how to develop the plan along with detailed information on the sale and transfer of a franchise. The detail within the sale and transfers section is broken into steps ranging from selling to an outsider to marketability of the franchise business, valuation methods, selling to an employee and the importance of establishing a transfer policy within a system.
- A program that has been developed by the Franchise Relations Committee for IFA members is “The ABCs of Establishing a Mentorship Program for Your Franchise System.” This guide can be downloaded and implemented easily within any franchise system. The areas covered define mentoring and its benefits, the role of the operations department within the program, what it means to be a mentor and what it means to be a protégé. In addition to this program outlining the roles and responsibilities of the participants, it also provides a breakdown of areas in which the protégé may need assistance along with the necessary forms and templates to be utilized within the program.
- In addition to the written materials, you can access PowerPoint presentations such as “Getting Franchisees Engaged, Productive and Profitable,” as well as “Franchise Relations in Action,” “Crises Management” and “Social Media Risk,” which were educational sessions and summits that had been conducted by the Franchise Relations Committee. And another source of information that we have compiled within this library is an extensive collection of past Franchising World articles that are relevant to establishing and nurturing positive relationships within a franchise system.
- One final, but important source within IFA regarding tools that drive positive franchisee-franchisor relationships is the Certified Franchise Executives™ program. The mission of the program is to enhance the professionalism of franchising by certifying the highest standards of quality training and education. The program offers a wide range of educational sessions for franchise executives to learn and to grow professionally. With the extensive collection of classes, forums and educational sessions available through the CFE, there is sure to be a focus within the curriculum that you will find that drives positive franchisee-franchisor relationships. In fact, the Franchise Relations Committee has been actively working with the ICFE in developing accredited educational sessions focused on that specific topic, such as the ICFE Special Session held in 2013 on Franchise Relations in Action and the Webinar being held this month on Successions and Transfers.
I have only scratched the surface of the available tools that we as members of the IFA can access to drive healthy, positive franchisee-franchisor relationships. There are many educational sessions, programs, guides and articles that have been developed over the years by leaders within the franchise community. Now we have the most beneficial communication tool of all within FranSocial. The community is solely dedicated to our being able to quickly ask questions, share information, ideas and data on enhancing, improving and driving positive, healthy franchise relations within our systems. What more could we ask? Why are we waiting? Let’s log on and start sharing. n
Barbara Moran-Goodrich, CFE, CEO and co-founder of Moran Family of Brands, serves as chairwoman of the International Franchise Association’s Franchise Relations Committee. Find her at fransocial.franchise.org.