Often compared to marriage, this important dynamic should be built on trust, open communication and mutual respect from both parties to be successful
Throughout my career in franchising, I have always found that getting on with people is the key to success. However, this does not just mean with your customers; it means with those in the same franchise network as you too! Franchising is not an autocratic way of doing business. It requires collaboration, trust and honest communication between the franchisor and franchisee. So, forming a great franchisor-franchisee relationship is essential to the franchise’s success. At Greensleeves, forming great relationships with our franchisees is at the forefront of our minds, which is why every franchisee going into the renewal period over the past 12 months resigns for another term. We pin our consecutive record-breaking years over the past two years largely down to the great relationships we share with our franchisees. So, here is my advice on how you too can foster the perfect relationship with your franchisees.
1. Work with people you can openly communicate with
When taking on a franchisee, the franchisor’s job is to ensure that they know exactly what is expected of them at every stage of their franchising journey. This way, there are no misunderstandings once they have skin in the game. Remember, as a franchisor, you rely on franchisees to represent your brand to the best of their ability, follow your guidelines and help the brand grow. In turn, a franchisee expects you to provide them with training, support and the tools to get their business started. If both parties are committed to being honest and open, a strong relationship will be developed and both sides of the bargain will be fulfilled.
Once expectations have been established and the franchisee is part of the network, the franchisor-franchisee relationship is all about communicating with one another to share ideas, best practices and systems that are proven to work. To develop an open communication channel, I would recommend setting up regular meetings where you can provide the franchisee with the support, training and materials they need to succeed. By holding one-on-one sessions, you can chat through any problems, give feedback, and better understand how each other operate. Taking the time to sit down and connect also shows your franchisees you value their opinions.
2. Shared information leads to business growth and success
Franchising is a way for anyone to become their own boss, and even if the franchisee is not particularly entrepreneurial, with a franchisor’s help they are more likely to succeed. As a franchisor, you have ‘been there, done that’ and have systems in place to ensure their network becomes successful. However, to ensure the franchisor can get this information and support across to the franchisee they need to feel comfortable enough to communicate effectively. Information shared from one to the other will positively impact the business.
For example, franchisees can benefit massively from access to information about performance across the entire business. On the other hand, franchisors can learn a lot about their customers from franchisees and develop a more accurate picture of industry trends. A franchisor and franchisee who can work together effectively are more likely to create a successful, profitable franchise.
3. Take responsibility
The franchisor-franchisee relationship is a unique and complex one and will only work well if both parties are invested. There is no denying that most of the responsibility for creating a strong relationship lies with the franchisor, but franchisees also need to ensure they give enough time and energy to the business if they want to feel valued, trusted and looked after by the brand.
Franchisors have a responsibility to ensure they tell their franchisees about the positive and negative sides of the franchise. For example, if there are known challenges that need to be fixed, the franchisor should be open and make them clear from the outset. Honesty is undoubtedly the best policy. Having a solid brand identity and consistent business strategies will lay the foundations for success, while good leadership and effective communication will ensure that both parties are engaged. If both the franchisor and the franchisee work to achieve these factors, a balanced and productive relationship will make success easier to achieve.
Hear from a franchisee
Jimmy Wilson-Petch runs Greensleeves’ Richmond territory with his wife, Judy. The gardening duo are now in their fifth term with Greensleeves and are the second-longest-serving franchisees in the network. “When we bought into Greensleeves, we were going into the business pretty blind. There was not anywhere near as much support as there is now because we were one of the very first franchisees,” explained Jimmy.
“As the years have gone by, the whole franchise has gone from strength to strength. My relationship with David and the team in head office is fantastic. They always go above and beyond to support us, and they are always looking to help us improve by bringing in new developments like the Greensleeves Live app. Head office provides us with the tools, and it is up to us as franchisees to follow the systems that suit our business best.
“My advice for creating a great relationship with your franchisor is to establish a good channel of communication, ask questions whenever you need help and work hard! We achieved 13 per cent growth throughout the pandemic and our net growth was around 250 customers. Our focus now is to get someone in to support Judy and me to give us a bit more time off.”
David Truby is the managing director of Greensleeves.