6 Key Points to Strong Franchise Relationships

Building Solid RelationshipsValidation and multi-unit ownership are strong indicators that positively memorable experiences exist within your franchise system. Another way to confirm the existence of these experiences is simply to ask your franchisees: would you do it all over again? However, as a franchisor you must first earn the right to even be taken seriously if you ask this question.

As you head down the path of creating positively memorable experiences with each and every franchisee, be sure to consider ALL touch points – even those beyond the obvious mediums of in-person, by phone and via email. Think digitally!

How do you interact with franchisees on Facebook? How do you come across to your franchisees in LinkedIn discussion groups? Is there common courtesy? Are you proud of each other’s actions within these platforms?

Many will refer to all of this as being great in theory, and not really practical. But just think what could happen if every touch point were seen as another opportunity to create or enhance a positively memorable experiences. How would that change the culture of your system? How would that lend towards growing your brand? Think of the ripple effect.

Here are six key points to creating positively memorable experiences in a franchise organization:

  1. Understanding the true meaning AND spirit of interdependent franchise relationships. This must be shared and exemplified at every point of contact with franchisees.
  2. Developing the right culture at all levels. Be careful- culture is also defined as bacteria! This takes time and commitment, and is a reflection of how people, whether franchisees, employees, suppliers or others, are treated at all times.
  3. Creating an environment of truth, trust and transparency based upon open, two-way communications – the cornerstone of creating the right culture. Think of a three-legged stool that could hold a great deal of weight when fully intact, yet would immediately fall under its own weight if one leg was compromised.
  4. Establishing your franchise system as family. Treat them as such but understand that this is not the typical type of family of yesteryear with subservience to the head of the household. Mutual respect is paramount!
  5. Building an environment of bottom-up profitability and growth with ALL parties to the franchise agreement and other related agreements focused on mutual goals and objectives. All must sing out of the same hymnal, and not just for dress rehearsal – so be sure to give them the hymn book.
  6. Positively Memorable Experiences – Live it and breathe it every day for optimum results!

The Changing Franchise Relationship

PAC14_Brochure_cover_small_view“…the summer of 2014 saw two major judgments that underscored the changing times. While these two rulings address different parts of franchise operation, they both serve as actions seeking to level the balance of power between the franchisor and the franchisee.” – Franchise Direct

The quote above was from the beginning of a recent article on FranchiseDirect.com, The Changing Franchisor-Franchisee Relationship. It was for this article that I was asked to be interviewed. I’d like to thank the team at Franchise Direct for the opportunity to share insight and perspective about the upcoming International Franchise Association Public Affairs Conference in Washington DC. As well, I’d like to express my gratitude to IFA Staff for their assistance in preparing responses to interview questions. I believe it’s very important to deliver the correct message on all issues so their assistance and guidance was greatly appreciated. Their professionalism is second to none!

The complete article may be read HERE, but I’ll share my interview below…

Commentary from an Industry Expert

A noted franchise industry expert and speaker, Paul R. Segreto, CFE, was nice enough to answer some questions for Franchise Direct about the legal fight the franchising industry is enduring. Paul is a current member of the IFA Franchise Relations Committee. In addition, Paul is currently the CEO of Franchise Foundry, a franchise development company, as well as the host of Franchise Today on Blog Talk Radio. You can find out more about Paul here.

What will be the main points of discussion at the IFA Public Affairs Conference (September 15-18 in Washington, D.C.)?

The Public Affairs Conference is the best opportunity for IFA members to advocate for their business and communicate to lawmakers the challenges we are facing. In July, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Division of Advice announced that a franchisor could be designated as a joint employer of its franchisees employees. The IFA is fighting this dangerous assertion because it is unlawful and will harm job growth, the economy and locally-owned franchise small businesses in every state. Franchisees have invested their capital in the business and stand to lose equity in their businesses if their franchisors are deemed joint employers. During the Conference, IFA members will take this message to Capitol Hill to fight for franchising and educate those on the success of the franchise business model and the growth that it continues to provide to our economy.

What is the risk to the industry from some of these judgments that have been handed down?

If franchisors are joint employers with their franchisees, these thousands of small business owners would lose control of the operations and equity they worked so hard to build. The jobs of millions of workers would be placed in jeopardy and the value of the businesses that employ them would be deflated.

This recommendation is a drastic and overreaching solution. Ample federal, state and local remedies are available – and are regularly used to enforce current law, including more limited NLRB action, state attorneys, general action and private rights of action – to deal with labor violations of various kinds. Destroying the fundamental tenets of the franchise model would eviscerate the most successful business model in existence.

Why do you believe so many cities and states are reviewing their franchising policies?

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) is leading organized attacks against franchising and these jobs they create. The labor unions multi-pronged attack at the local, state and national levels, including having the federal government declare entire franchise systems as a single unit rather than the collection of separate, small business owners they actually are. The SEIU wants to undermine the franchise business model so they can more easily unionize entire franchise systems, as it is much more difficult for unions to organize thousands of independent small businesses under the current regulatory system.

What specific actions are the IFA taking, or considering, to protect the rights of both franchisors and franchisees?

With our continued fight to defend the franchise business model, the IFA is ensuring that franchise small business owners are well informed of policies that could alter the way they do business so they are armed with the tools necessary to educate lawmakers. The IFA’s Franchise Action Network is a new strategic initiative that mobilizes franchisors, franchisees and suppliers at the grassroots level. A coalition of the franchise owners, all promoting a single mission, is the best way to protect our industry from an increasingly hostile legislative and regulatory environment at the federal, state and municipal levels.

How does Aziz Hashim’s ascension to chairman underscore the changing relationship climate between franchisors and franchisees?

Aziz Hashim is going to elevate the role of franchisees in everything IFA does. The nature of the game has changed. There has been no more important time for franchisees to be engaged with the IFA on public policy issues. Legislators need to hear the concerns these business owners have about policies that impact their relationship with their franchisor.

Franchisee Disaster Recovery Kit

Yesterday, I heard from Franchise Relationship Expert, Greg Nathan, as he reached out to me to help him share information to assist franchisors and franchisees affected by Hurricane Sandy. Greg wrote, “In 2011 Australia and New Zealand were hit by unprecedented floods, earthquakes and fires. To assist franchisors provide relevant and useful business and personal support for their franchisees we developed a Franchisee Disaster Recovery Kit. Franchisors told us they found the kit enormously helpful. Given recent events on the USA East Coast we would like to make the Kit available to franchisors in the USA.”

Here’s the information Greg would like to share…

Stepping Up In Times Of Need

One of a franchisors most important responsibilities is to deliver useful and relevant support to their franchisees. Great franchisors understand that in difficult times they need to be out there, standing by their franchisees and their families.

Similarly in times of trouble, franchise systems with healthy cultures will quickly mobilize themselves into action with franchisees providing practical and moral support to their colleagues.

With any crisis, it is only natural that franchisors and franchisees will want to reach out to people who have suffered loss or trauma. With this in mind we have put together this Franchisee Disaster Recovery Kit, in downloadable PDF format, to assist franchisors and others wanting to help franchisees and families who have been affected.

Read more here or go right to the Disaster Recovery Kit below…

Click Here to download Disaster Recovery Kit PDF

Well, Greg, it’s not only my pleasure to help you share this great information, but it’s my honor to know someone as caring as you. It’s no wonder that you and your organization, Franchise Relationship Institute are true leaders in understanding and strengthening franchise relationships. It all does come down to caring. Thank you for doing so!


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Utilizing Social Media for Franchise Success

I believe anything a franchisor does should be done to benefit the franchise relationship, and social media plays perfectly into this philosophy as it affords interactivity at all stages of the franchise relationship. From prospecting for qualified franchise candidates to supporting current franchisees, the utilization of social media tools and technology creates environments that strengthen relationships, shares information, provides two-way communications, and provides points of reference for follow up. It creates a multi-tiered platform of information that benefits both franchise development and customer generation efforts alike. Often, simultaneously.

For franchise startups, the founder’s vision of the concept is paramount to future success. They are perceived as the concept. They are essentially the brand. At least until a significant number of franchises are awarded and brand awareness is established across multiple markets, they are the inspiration for franchise candidates. The benefit to spreading this message through social media outlets such as social networking, video sharing, blogs, etc. is that these tools and associated strategies will generate direct excitement about the business model while generating subliminal, subtle interest in the franchise concept. This establishes a perfect foundation for growth. It also defines a very worthwhile, visible support mechanism for franchisees. Of course, it’s imperative to have a well-defined support system in place for training and assisting franchisees.

For established franchise brands, it’s a matter of improving brand awareness in current markets while creating brand awareness in new markets, and markets that are on the horizon for expansion. Again, as with startup franchise concepts, the interactivity created by social media makes it a viable option in driving customers to franchise locations and generating interest in the franchise concept. But, what’s important in a mature system, and a complement to its franchise development efforts, is the improvement of communications throughout the franchise system that is created by social media activity and ultimately lends itself to validation of the franchise concept by the franchisees. For once, franchisees are feeling part of the franchise development process as it’s visible in the organization’s social media efforts. Something that many franchisees have not been a part of in the past.


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Opinions, Insight and Perspectives on Franchising

I recently posted a question on Linkedin that addressed the primary reasons to explore franchising. Below please find several of the responses from a cross-section of industry and non-industry professionals . As I have done in the past, the names of the responding individuals will be kept confidential. Instead, they will only identified by their Linkedin statement or profile.

doors-optionsWhat is your opinion of franchising as a business model, business expansion strategy and as a career alternative?
as posted in the Q & A section on LinkedIn under Franchising

An SAP Consultant with some franchising experience obviously has done his homework and offered valuable advice as well as sharing some real life experiences.

“I have studied business and many individual businesses personally. I read many business cases and books and have a deep interest in business models and how they work in the current market.

First of all, check out the book ‘The E-myth Revisited?’ It is a very interesting way of viewing a business model. It describes the benefits of the franchise way of doing business.

I also have been involved in a few franchise opportunities, most recently, I was looking to purchase a tanning franchise. The business model was highly tuned, the computer system was revolutionary and perfectly adapted to the business through many years of iterations. The computer system alone would allow you to manage multiple stores with very little hands on control. The power of the franchise itself brought purchasing power and brand recognition which would have been difficult to built independently. The small percentage of revenues to fund regional advertising brought in enough business that I could have been almost completely hands off while still turning a sizable profit.

In short, most entrepreneurs work IN their business, but at a point you need to delegate so you can work ON your business. And franchising is a marvelous way (for most businesses) to grow exponentially.”

This next response if from a business coach that specializes in guerilla marketing strategies. Before I even read her response i knew I would agree with her perspective of franchisees needing to be prepared to work hard despite buying into a system. How true, indeed.

“I think that Franchises represent an great opportunity for some people. They can provide an excellent template for success, as well as resources and support as you are growing your business. That said, opening a franchise is just like starting any other business from the standpoint that you must have a clear idea as to how you will drive customers to your product/service. A franchisor will provide you with the tools and a blueprint, but you are going to have to do a lot of the heavy-lifting yourself. Make sure you are prepared!

Before committing to any franchise, talk to some of their current (and former!) franchisees. Don’t just call the people the franchisor tells you to call; reach deeper into their list of franchisees. Develop a list of questions that you can ask that help you to understand whether this particular franchise is going to be a good fit for you.

Lastly, if you are someone who doesn’t really like “rules”, you may want to think twice about franchising. What makes franchises work is that things are delivered consistently. That can be a good thing, or a bad thing, depending on how well you follow rules!”

An entrepreneur who previously founded a small franchise company offered his view which it appears may have been formed by some entrepreneurial types that entered into a franchise agreement with his franchise company. Personally, I do not believe true entrepreneurs make very good franchisees. On the flip-side, is he referring to true entrepreneurs or franchisees that just had buyer’s remorse and had to blame someone for their poor performance and/or failure?

“I could wax on for hours on the subject and don’t have the finger skills to type it all, but…

First, my qualifications: I founded/own a successful retail business for over 15 years. I have created multiple businesses, some successful, some not, but all independent. I also created a retail concept that I franchised. So I have the unique view of being an independent and a franchisor.

Here are some quotes:
-A franchise is like a bicycle with training wheels. Once you learn how to ride, you won’t want training wheels anymore.
-Franchising is for those who want you to help them…but, then to leave them alone. In other words they want to be indies, but in a community.
-A franchise is only as good as it’s support.
-If a franchise operation doesn’t give back in value more than royalties paid in, the franchisee will eventually resent writing a check to “the mother ship”.
-A franchise is a business model that people expect to have it all figured out – no one has it all figured out.”

A very well-respected and experienced franchise consultant offered his perspective from having worked with individuals explore franchising as a career alternative. I agree that many explore business ownership options because they cannot find a career position that will compensate them as they have grown accustomed to in the past. the choice between franchise and startup often comes down to risk.

“As a business model I think that franchising is or has taken the place of corporate expansion in a lot of cases. Especially in the startup sector. I don’t know how many times recently I have been contacted from a startup that wants to expand via franchising.

I am talking to a lot of people that are looking at franchising as an alternative career path. Most of them are coming to me because they can’t find a job, it isn’t that they don’t want one, but they can’t find one making the money they were making before.

So they turn to owning a business and a logical choice for some of them is a franchise. For others it is starting their own business.

I think it comes down to personal preference and ability to cope with risk factors. I think most of the people that buy a franchise do so to help reduce their risk, so if they were really looking for a job and then had to buy a business, a franchise is probably a one choice.

About 1/3 of my clients are people in this situation that were looking for a new career, due to recent economic conditions, and they couldn’t find what they were looking for.”

An upstart franchise founder offers her views from the perspective of being new to franchising but quite experienced in running her own business. She appears to be spot on about ideal franchise relationships but I look forward to discussing her thoughts after she awards her first four or five franchises.

“As a career alternative, franchises are not for entrepreneurs, whose M.O. is ‘anything you can do, I can do better’. As an expansion strategy, it depends on the industry, product, service and system. For those that rely heavily on outside sales, for instance, hiring salespeople is more risky and time consuming than offering the opportunity for ownership.

I agree that franchising is a great way to grow by working on your business instead of in it.

Franchises offer franchisees:
– Self direction (while some do, many don’t have too-stringent rules)
– Higher income potential than a fixed salary or most sales positions, and often even more than business ownership because growth may be better supported
– Proven solutions to problems that exist in the market, the basis for any startup
– Elimination or reduction of what can often be years or decades of research, development, relationship building and trial and error and financial investment
– SUPPORT”

Are Relationships With Your Franchisees Strengthening Your Franchise?

The following is an article submitted by Guest Author, Katryn Harris. Katryn is the CEO of Open Box, a company focused on helping franchisors use technology to build their franchises. She brings her background in management, business strategy and communication as well as her team of technical experts to work with franchisors, ensuring that their technology fits their business strategy and moves their franchises forward. Be sure to check out Katryn’s blog at www.growfromhere.com.

Are Relationships With Your Franchisees Strengthening Your Franchise?
as submitted by Katryn Harris

business-relationshipsAs a franchisor, you are in the business of building relationships; relationships with your franchisees, with your potential franchisees and with your end customers. Relationships build sales, build your brand and build your franchise.

The franchisor /franchisee relationship has interesting challenges that may not be seen elsewhere in the business relationship world. It’s not employer/employee, it’s not quite a partnership, and there are elements of both financial dependence, and inter-relatedness. The franchisor & franchisee depend on one another, and are both accountable to one another, and the success of each depends strongly on the success of the other.

One of the key success factors for good relationships (with both potential & existing franchisees) is to set your boundaries and expectations clearly. Some franchisors are more or less consultative, some are more or less friendly with their franchisees, some are more or less clear from the outset on expectations and accountability (and whole books have been written on which of these is right and which is wrong). I highly recommend
a) Knowing the pros and cons of leaning towards either side of the spectrum (do your homework)
b) Being clear about where you sit along the spectrum, and
c) Communicating where you sit to your franchisees and, particularly to potential franchisees.

Whether you are more or less consultative in your relationships is actually less important than knowing why you have chosen that position, being clear about where you stand, and then finding franchisees who are looking for that particular degree of consultative relationship. If you can attain these three, the franchisor/franchisee relationship will be strong and rewarding for both of you & lead to strong franchise growth.

One great resource for building your franchise through strong relationships is Greg Nathan and his books about the franchisor/franchise relationship, such as The Franchise E-Factor.