Franchising is all about communication, and when that’s absent, franchise owners can feel left in the dark. Here’s how brands can make everybody feel involved and supported
This article is powered by Scorpion
One of the biggest draws of being a franchise owner is that you go into business for yourself, but not by yourself. You can control and own your destiny and the trajectory of your career, but still have the systems and support from franchise brands who have a proven path to success.
At least, that’s how things are supposed to go. But franchise owners are increasingly reporting frustrations with their franchisors, and more and more are feeling like they have to single-handedly carry the burden of marketing, branding, and long-term development – all while managing the day-to-day of a franchise location.
According to Scorpion’s latest marketing research, 44.7 per cent of franchise owners say that marketing guidance from the top is “rarely” or “never” tailored to their local communities. When marketing is tailored, almost half say that it is only “somewhat effective”, while 25.1 per cent report that it is “not very effective”, if at all.
There’s clearly a division between what franchise owners want out of this relationship, and what franchisors are currently providing. So how can we bridge that gap, and ensure that each franchise location provides a mutually beneficial relationship to all involved?
As with most problems we encounter in the professional world, the first – and sometimes the only – step required is opening lines of communication between all involved parties. In the franchising sphere, this means that franchisors need to listen to their franchisees, but also that franchisees need to be open to the suggestions and guidance presented to them by corporate.
“In my opinion, three of the most important makings of having a successful franchisor/franchisee relationship are open communication, transparency, and trust. Just like the relationships you build in your personal lives, the connections and relationships you build with franchisees have to have key components for things to not only work out, but to thrive,” says Brad Voreis, vice president of strategic marketing at Scorpion.
“The thing to remember is that this is a two-way street so both sides should be communicating often, openly, and respectfully. If there is an issue, or a potential issue, then it needs to be addressed at the first appropriate opportunity and both sides should work together to correct the issue and reach a desired resolution.”
This sentiment is one again backed up by Scorpion’s research, which suggests that many franchisors simply aren’t communicating effectively with their franchise owners. In instances where they are in dialogue, it sometimes falls short of what franchise owners would like to get out of the interaction.
For example, only 13.1 per cent of respondents indicate that communication with their franchisor is “extremely efficient”, with the largest segment (36.1 per cent) considering this “somewhat efficient”. A third of franchise owners also state that their franchisor only takes time to address issues raised “some of the time”, with just under five percent suggesting that their issues are “never” addressed.
What this showcases is that communication is important, but actions speak louder than words.
Committing to the first step of speaking with franchise owners is a great direction for franchisors, but follow-up is fundamental if any positive change is going to occur.
44.7% of franchise owners say that marketing guidance is “rarely” or “never” tailored to their local communities
A key change that needs to take place in these unfulfilling franchising relationships is a change in perspective. Some franchise owners feel that their corporate partners aren’t invested in the success of an individual location, and this can make franchisees feel like a cog in a machine rather than a necessary member of a broader network.
“They feel that the promotion of the business is not their job. I was told their job is to sell more franchises, not promote the franchises that are already out there,” says an education franchise owner from Scorpion’s study. “Them providing brand awareness is a no go. I would feel they cared about our success if they actually promoted their product.”
This sentiment is echoed throughout the industry, with the most challenging aspect of strategizing marketing between franchise owners and their brands being identified as “agreement on channels”. Less than half of franchise owners feel closely connected to their brands as it relates to having a vested interest in one anothers’ successes; a crucial part of building deep, meaningful, long-lasting business relationships.
“What is shocking is that they don’t use some of the great content created by franchisees,” says a pet care franchisee respondent. “They are so out of touch with what it takes to run one of these franchises that most of what they send out or decide to do is a joke.”
36.1% of franchise owners feel that corporate is only “somewhat invested” in their success
Build relationships with support and guidance
As established, franchisors need to make sure that they show consideration for each and every franchise location within the network; not just high performing sites, or the newest additions.
But, understandably, franchise corporate teams are often stretched thin. Time and bandwidth can be tight when supporting dozens, if not hundreds, of franchise owners.
Nonetheless, this doesn’t let franchisors off the hook. If providing real-time, in-depth feedback and guidance is too overwhelming for corporate teams, they need to find force multipliers who can amplify the support they’re providing to the franchise network.
Thankfully, there exists a range of vendors and tools that can provide both white-glove services and technology to help franchisees better understand their business and stay ahead of local competition. These solutions aren’t just a helpful toolkit for franchisees – they also demonstrate the value franchisors promised in their initial sales pitches.
“There are always going to be issues that arise from time to time,” says Brad Voreis, “but I promise that if you build the proper foundations with your franchisees, make sure they are happy, and build on those relationships with trust, then your chances of success will be far greater.”