It may have started slowly. A drop in sales as consumer confidence dipped, a disturbing absence when regulars stopped coming by. Then, the momentum began building as store closures made headlines; perhaps a franchise nearby closed its doors for good. No matter how it happened or in what order, there are times when you might be feeling down and out. And while it is critically important for franchisors to maintain a gauge of franchisee morale, most franchisors either don’t do it at all or don’t do a good job of it, according to John P. Hayes, a franchise consultant and author of several books on franchising.
So how do you give your morale a boost? You may be overwhelmed just thinking about it, but a little effort goes a very long way.
Put things in perspective in order to set realistic expectations. “Know what you can control and what you can’t control,” says Hayes. “Then get control of what you can and forget the rest.”
Reach out to other franchisees. One of the biggest advantages of being part of a franchise is that you have access to an instant network of people who are living through the exact same challenges as you. Organize a meeting of several franchisees or ask a franchisee who’s succeeding to evaluate your business and offer tips. Says Hayes, “Franchisees can be of tremendous help to one another.”
Find support groups in your community. Call your Chamber of Commerce to find out about local business support groups, advises Hayes. Sharing experiences and ideas can inspire and motivate you, and you may even find that you can form partnerships with local businesses to help market your own.
Talk to your franchisor. “Among the top franchisors, the executives are on the phone calling franchisees to find out how business is going and how the franchisees are holding up under current economic and social pressures,” says Hayes. However, if your franchisor hasn’t been in touch, don’t wait for the call. Instead, speak up. Tell corporate that you need some support and see what strategies they have in place to provide that support. It will benefit you as well as a whole network of other franchisees. Plus, your success as a franchisee directly affects the success of the franchise system as a whole.
Remember that you’re not alone and stay focused on the goal. You may feel, at times, as though it is a long, solitary journey but look around and you’ll see that others are sharing in the plight. Set achievable goals and keep moving forward.
What can franchisors do to help franchisees maintain their morale?
According to Greg Nathan, managing director of the Franchise Relationships Institute, an organization that helps franchisees and franchisors work together constructively, the most effective methods that franchisors have used to assist their franchisees to beat the recession are:
- Monitoring franchisee financial distress more closely. For instance, franchisor executives can visit franchisees in their businesses to discuss business health indicators such as debtors, product mix, and gross margin.
- Collaborating more closely with franchisees and having more face-to-face contact with franchisees through forums and meetings.
- Providing emotional support by maintaining an optimistic outlook when talking with franchisees about the future.
- Providing franchisees with opportunities to share best practice with each other.
- Coaching franchisees to engage in more aggressive local area marketing.
Sara Wilson is a freelance writer who specializes in issues related to small businesses. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org