I really enjoyed talking to Kevin Wilson on the podcast this week. I love the unique perspective he brings to franchising, and I really loved that he spoke so much and placed a great deal of importance on the franchisor-franchisee relationship, which my listeners know is something I place a high level of value on myself.
In my view there’s almost nothing more important as a franchisor than making sure my franchisees feel happy, comfortable and that we maintain a great working relationship with each other. I know that they are the backbone of my success and I am open with them about that, so I do all I can to support them, put them in a position to thrive and reward them properly for their successes.
One of the most important things you need to do in order to have good relationships with franchisees is to be selective about who you work with. Don’t enter into a partnership with just anyone, and don’t be afraid to take the course of a month or 2 to really get to know your prospects before committing. Once you find people you’re confident you can work with, there are 4 central tenets you really need to stick to in order to build and maintain healthy working relationships.
- Start On the Same Page
How you begin your relationship is crucial in determining your long term success, so you need to be open and honest about expectations right from the beginning.
One thing Kevin highlighted this week was the importance of both parties acknowledging that there will inevitably be hiccups. The relationship will get strained and both sides will end up making mistakes along the way, but as long as you commit to working together through those mistakes you will be able to conquer obstacles together and maintain a good relationship throughout the process.
Establish grounds that no one will hold a mistake against the other as long as those mistakes are admitted and everyone holds themselves accountable. Agree to leave emotions on the sideline and simply work towards solutions. Finally, agree that no matter what happens we are all people first, people with families and lives outside work, and that always needs to be respected. By creating an environment with priorities aligned each party will feel comfortable and confident in the relationship, paving the grounds for success.
2. Commit to Being a Pillar of Support Above All Else
As a franchisor, your #1 goal is to support your franchisees. You need to make sure they are happy, healthy and secure in order to perform at a high level. If they get that support from you they are going to have no problem going the extra mile, enthusiastically cooperating, creating, bringing you new ideas, etc.
In order to do this you need to be on speed dial 24/7. You need to make sure you’re bringing them leads. You need to have training and coaching programs that actually deliver results, and most importantly you need to be a guiding light, a mentor, who has been there before and knows how to steer the ship.
Every time you go to collect a fee, first ask yourself how your franchisee is doing. Did they fare well this month? Was it better or worse than the month before, and what has the general trend been? What areas could they improve in, and how can you help them make those improvements?
If you don’t have ready answers to these questions, you need to rectify that immediately, and make sure they feel your presence and support. The last thing you want to be as a franchisor is the guy who just comes around collecting a portion of your franchisee’s hard earned money, but if you’re doing your job properly, that should never be a problem.
3. Treat All Franchisees Equally
As with any classroom or workplace, if some people feel that others are getting special treatment they will quickly come to resent not only the employer who is giving that special treatment, but the recipient as well, causing a company culture to potentially become toxic.
It’s important for franchisees to be able to rely not only on you, but also on each other, and they all need to feel valued and respected equally in order for that to happen. If you have a favorite and you coddle them noticeably in lieu of the rest, that’s not going to go over well.
This isn’t to say that you need to treat everyone exactly the same, but it does mean everyone needs to feel valued, respected and cared for. Some franchisees have more experience or are just stronger than others. A top producing franchisee doesn’t need the same treatment as a struggling new one, but all team members must be treated with respect, feel heard and supported, and have the opportunity to grow.
If they are getting that treatment from not only you but from the other franchisees in your network they are going to be more eager to be contributing members who add to that value, and your entire group of franchisees will consistently lift each other up. A strong network takes a huge weight off your shoulders by reducing problems and creating an environment where those problems even solve themselves occasionally. Positivity breeds positivity, and positivity breeds positive results.
4. Reward Generously
Your franchisees are dependent on you, but you can’t forget that you are dependent on them too. At the end of the day, your success depends on the hard work and intellect of your franchisees, and if you’re not rewarding people handsomely, they’re much more likely to underperform.
Don’t shy away during bonus season, and be ready to give equity to the right people at the right time. Doing so gives them ample room to grow, inspires the rest of your team to achieve the same goal, and helps insure your top performers never leave you. This is a great way to motivate people to take some of the work off your plate and grow your network for you.
If you choose your team carefully and make sure they feel supported, the sky is really the limit in the franchise game. Prioritize the health, happiness and wellbeing of your franchisees, and you may be surprised how easy running your business becomes!