In a perfect world, franchisors and their franchisees would have the best relationship. But as we all know, the real world is far from perfect. In fact, franchisors and franchisees often come face to face. In franchising, the relationship between franchisor and franchisee is paramount to the success of both. So for there to be meaning for franchisees, buzzwords like communication, collaboration, integrity, and inclusiveness all need to be backed by action.
In this article, we discuss how franchisors can manage conflict when it arises, create opportunities to foster trust with franchisees, and set the stage for productive relationships as they grow their brand.
1) Tackle conflicts head-on
Conflict is an inevitable part of life. However, when a conflict arises in franchising, it is important to act quickly and decisively so that feelings do not escalate. Franchisors must be prepared for conflicts between franchisees ranging from interpersonal disputes between employees or managers to larger systemic issues such as customer service. So when a conflict inevitably arises:
- Stay calm and listen carefully to what is being said. Remember that you’re not the only one with an agenda, so be open-minded and firm in your resolve. If possible, avoid being defensive or antagonizing during the conversation. Remember, it’s about solving problems!
- Acknowledge what the franchisee is saying and that you hear their concerns.
- Don’t make any promises you can’t keep. If the franchisee wants something, come back to them with a realistic action plan.
- Document what was discussed and follow up in a timely manner.
Franchising is about relationships and trust. When these principles are not nurtured, it creates an environment conducive to conflict, tainting the overall franchisee experience. Franchisors must be proactive in identifying and resolving conflicts as they arise. This will help maintain the trust of their franchisees, an essential element for a healthy franchise system.
2) Create opportunities for trust
For the franchise to work effectively, there must be a high level of trust between franchisors and franchisees. Franchisee trust is created when franchisors act in a way that shows they are looking out for the best interests of their franchisees, while demonstrating competence on many fronts. Franchisee confidence:
- comes from transparency and honesty about what is happening at all levels of the company.
- comes from consistency in how franchisees/employees are treated and communicated to all levels of the business.
- comes from open, balanced two-way communication between franchisees and franchisors, rather than just listening to what franchisees have to say, without giving them feedback on their thoughts or concerns about your brand.
3) Build a parent-child relationship with your franchisees
Franchisees must be able to trust their franchisor, understand their franchisor’s expectations, have confidence in the systems in place and know that they will be supported at every stage of their growth.
A key part of ensuring franchisee success is fostering a parent-child relationship where the franchisor is the guardian and the franchisees are willing to follow their lead. This means that communication should go both ways, with franchisors being transparent about what is going on in the business and taking note of any suggestions or criticisms made by their franchisees. This creates a positive culture that can help your system evolve smoothly. Establishing a positive work culture is essential for any business, but it’s especially important when it comes to franchising.
By establishing trust, communication and transparency between franchisors and franchisees, you will create an environment conducive to success. Conflicts will always arise, but by dealing with them quickly and effectively, you can maintain the necessary positive relationships.
This article first appeared on the FranConnect website and is used here with permission. To learn more, visit their website.