Regular regional meetings for franchisees are a key part of a franchisor’s support package, Michael Johnson, managing director of Card Connection, says
One of the key benefits of joining a franchise is that you are not alone. Your franchise network is designed to support you while you run your business. Regular meetings are one way franchisors ensure the right backing is being offered when it counts.
Most franchisors organise an annual conference, which is a chance to catch up on company news, updates and strategy and can also be a team building opportunity plus a social gathering too. However, because of the regional nature of many franchises, differences in geographical locations also need to be addressed in more detail - and this is often best achieved through regular regional meetings.
At Card Connection, we arrange biannual regional meetings at venues throughout the country to meet with clusters of franchisees. Such regional franchisee meetings are generally more interactive than our annual conference and the smaller numbers of attendees ensure there is more time for open discussion and feedback. It provides time to get down to the nitty-gritty of running the franchise on a day-to-day basis and deal with any hiccups.
Around 15 franchisees attended one of our recent regional meetings held at the Hilton Hotel in Bromsgrove in the West Midlands. A welcome coffee and chat started the day, followed by product update presentations, while business development managers discussed plans for the next few months. There was the opportunity for franchisees to ask questions and providing feedback was actively encouraged throughout the sessions. As a franchisor, we need to know what’s happening at the coalface, so we can work to address any issues and improve our business processes to make life easier for our franchisees and head office staff.
Good housekeeping is always a topic that needs covering. Filling in the background about why certain processes are necessary, or undertaken in a certain way, is key to making it happen. For example, high visibility clothing is now needed for any visiting supplier to our valued forecourt retail customers, so we were able to take time to ensure all our franchisees were on board with this new requirement. High visibility clothing was even provided for each franchisee.
Because of the nature of the greetings card business, you can guarantee there is always much discussion about which card designs are the most popular, and the meeting at the Hilton was no exception.
We took time to compare regional feedback with national sales statistics, which is always valuable information for the design team. Franchisees brought along their best-selling card and gift wrap designs to compare with colleagues and assessed any regional differences.
Many of our greetings cards sell well across the board, but the exercise showed some interesting regional variations and it was helpful to gain an insight into retailers’ views of the product through franchisees’ experiences too. A buffet lunch plus more networking preceded further interactive afternoon sessions.
New ideas on achieving the best looking greetings card displays were also shared via some fun exercises. Some of the newer team members were able to learn from the first-hand experiences of more established franchisees and it enabled detailed analysis of differences between types of customer to be discussed too. It was interesting to hear how established franchisees could rapidly anticipate which designs would sell best by taking various external factors into consideration, such as the other types of retailers in the vicinity of the customer’s store or the proximity of a school or hospital, for example.
Overall, regional meetings are about sharing information to improve the day-to-day running of franchises. They are a chance to find out about any common issues that need to be addressed by the management team. However, more than that, they provide the time to network with fellow franchisees and head office colleagues and learn from each other’s experiences. Franchisees voices are there to be heard and meeting in such an interactive environment cements the relationships and goodwill necessary to run a cohesive team that’s all working towards the same goal