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By Gary Occhiogrosso- Founder of Franchise Growth Solutions, LLC.
The Importance of Franchisors Building Relationships With Their Franchisees When Onboarding new franchisees the franchisor should always remember that a common thread to success is the franchisor’s culture of support, co-operation, communication, education, and profitability with their franchisees. Building an ongoing relationship with its franchise community can mean the difference between growing a restaurant brand to hundreds of units or failing before ever making a mark in the industry.
Without these critical components in place, a restaurant franchisee can quickly go “off the rails” and compromise brand standards. It’s not long before many of these franchisees negatively redefine the brand. Poor service, improperly prepared menu items, lesser quality ingredients and overall appearance and cleanliness of the restaurant are just a few reasons why a healthy relationship with your franchise owner is essential.
It Starts At the Beginning.
Creating the proper franchisor /franchisee relationship builds success for both. This relationship building must begin right from the start. Successful restaurant franchisors know that ramp-up time and getting a new restaurant profitable takes smart planning and hard work by both the franchisor and the franchisee. The training, support, communication and ongoing assistance the franchisee receives early on in the relationship can set the tone for the entire term of the franchise agreement.
One of the most crucial steps a franchisor can take begins when selecting a franchisee. Franchisors should conduct an in-depth interview as part of a thorough vetting process. Along with the obvious discussions such as past management and business experience, time commitment to the operation and funding, franchisors must also explore the core business values of the franchise candidate. Spending this time upfront to examine the candidate’s vision, expectations and the overall business plan goes a long way into understanding if the potential franchisee shares common goals with the franchisor. It is also the first step in building brand value and a robust, lasting business relationship.
Increase Your Communication And Reduce Your Failure
New businesses can fail for a variety of reasons. Although the vast number of restaurant failures are due to undercapitalization, it could also be the result of substandard operations, inefficient marketing, poor location and changing consumer trends. In addition, a failure in a franchised restaurant may be the result of the franchisee working outside the franchisor’s branded system. Franchisees can destroy their business by implementing procedures and introducing products that are counterintuitive to the brand image. Franchise owners often lack the time, experience and money to do proper research on a new product or a new procedure, never realizing that it may disrupt the entire system. Conversely, franchisors must always be aware and teach the idea that “everything touches everything else.” Building a healthy relationship and a clear channel of communication with the franchise owner can often prevent franchise owners from circumventing the system in the first place.
Harold Kestenbaum noted franchise attorney who has specialized in franchise law and other matters relating to franchising since 1977 explains: “Over my forty-plus years representing franchisors, I have seen too many franchisors fail because they do not realize how important it is for their franchisees to succeed and make money. Franchising is a two-way street, and to be a successful franchisor, you, as the franchisor, must understand this and make it happen. Franchisors cannot be successful if they think that it’s only them who should make money. Ray Kroc knew that franchising could only work if the franchisees made money along with the franchisor. Supporting your franchisees from the outset, and not when they are choking is imperative and franchisors need to realize this. One such way to make this collaborative effort work is by creating a franchisee advisory board. Franchisors with more than ten franchisees need to implement this without the franchisees asking for this. A franchisee advisory board will show the franchisees that you are trying to make them be a part of the system and that you want their input. Franchising is not an autocratic method of doing business; it is a collaborative method of doing business.”
Looking in the Mirror Helps
It’s easier to blame the franchisee for failure than franchisors like to admit. Franchisee behavior is often a reflection of the franchisor. Some franchisors are quick to dismiss why proper onboarding, relationship building, creating brand value, and adequate franchise support are vital to the success of the new business. When a franchisee loses confidence in the franchisor, it is complicated to turn back. Franchisees stray or “go rogue” because franchisors fail to supply the “rails” that the franchisee must run on.
An open, working relationship between the franchisor and the franchisee is the most important aspect of brand success. Franchisors must take a very active role in the franchise operation, perhaps more than they want. Supplying great tools, conducting superior training, regular visits to the restaurant to evaluate the goals and progress of the business is a crucial commitment a franchisor must make. Communication, transparency, ongoing coaching and counseling are the essential elements of relationship building. The ROI for these efforts will be opening hundreds or even thousands of franchised restaurants locations.