As anyone involved in the franchise industry knows, the franchisor-franchisee relationship is not always a happy one. What do franchisees want from their franchisors, and what are the best ways franchisors can guarantee happy franchisees? Some answers can be found in Franchise Business Review’s list of the 2009 Top Food Franchises, PizzaMarketplace reports.
Franchise Business Review, an independent research and information source for franchising, asked franchisees to rate satisfaction in five main areas: franchise relations, training and support, the overall system, financial opportunity and general satisfaction. Here’s what franchisees said they value the most — and my take on what it means for your business, whether you’re in the food-service industry or not.
1. Transparency. Companies that are open and share information with franchisees ranked highly, said Franchise Business Review president Eric Stites. This should come as no surprise; transparency has been a business buzzword ever since the Enron scandal hit. What’s more, transparency with your franchisees will “trickle down” to help your company be viewed as honest and trustworthy by potential customers.
2. Support. The top-rated franchise systems not only provide strong support from their corporate offices, but also encourage franchisees to support each other by sharing best practices. Again, the importance of support should be no surprise — that’s why franchisees buy into your system, after all. What’s interesting is that the top-ranked franchises were encouraging franchisees to help each other — not just accept “wisdom from the top.”
3. Flexibility. Given the state of the economy, franchisees need to be able to try new and creative ideas to keep business thriving. Flexibility doesn’t just refer to new marketing methods or product offerings, though; today’s franchisees are often seeking the flexibility to enjoy their downtime and personal lives while still running a business. The more options your franchise can offer — whether it’s different price points for buying into the system; a kiosk, stand-alone or store-within-a-store model; or a part-time option — the better your chances of attracting new franchisees.
With the rise of social media, mobile technology and real-time information, people are used to instantly getting what they want—whether it’s in their personal lives or their business lives. Making transparency, support, and flexibility hallmarks of your franchise is easier than ever. The key to making this work is taking it full circle.
Give them the right kind of support by maintaining an ongoing conversation as to what help they need. And offer them flexibility by encouraging them to come up with ideas and solutions that could be implemented across the whole system. Your interactions with franchisees can’t be a monologue — or even a dialogue — any longer. Now, you must hold a group conversation with the entire network of franchisees and potential franchisees.
Rieva Lesonsky is president and founder of GrowBiz Media, a content and consulting company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Follow Rieva on Twitter @Rieva. Visit SmallBizDaily.com to read more of Rieva’s insights on small business and to buy her newest book, Marketing 101: Quick Tips for Marketing Your Business.