As a former franchisor with five franchisees, I feel uniquely qualified to share some thoughts and ideas for other emerging franchise companies.

There’s so much to know and learn as a new franchisee – and so much ‘paper work’ coming down from HQ, that franchisees often get lost in a barrage of paper, rather than focusing on the big picture.

That can lead to your franchisees unknowingly sabotaging your brand. They don’t mean to. It’s not on purpose. It’s only because they’ve never been shown or the message was missed in deluge thrown at them.

That’s why, in my opinion, less is more. – Sharing bits of information – taking small bites versus trying to get all the information on one page (often more) works best. Try sharing each of the five points, perhaps one per week – with your franchisees to help them avoid these common mistakes that could sabotage their business – and your brand.

5 Ways to Sabotage your Franchise

There are many words and phrases that can, and will, sabotage your business. And chances are your staff is saying some of these now, without your even knowing it – on the phone and in person.

And worse yet, you’ve probably even said some of these yourself (ouch!). That’s the bad news.

The good news is we’re bringing you the top five sabotaging phrases and sharing how to neutralize the effects. So, get ready. You and your staff are about to be in a much better position to handle these common pitfalls.

1. “I have no idea”

This is normally used as an excuse rather than anything else. It’s a sure thing that the employee has not been shown how to explain something to the customer (i.e., insufficient product training). This phrase is used as something to say when the employee doesn’t know what to say. And they feel it’s an ‘honest’ statement.

When the customer hears, “I have no idea,” they immediately respond (usually silently) with, “You gotta be kidding me?” There normally is a certain blank stare accompanying this statement. Sad.

Instead, try, “That’s a great question, let me check and find out.”

2. “It’s not my department”

Well, then whose is it? Let’s remember one of our Telephone Doctor mottos: Tell the customer what you can do, not what you CAN’T do. If you get a call and someone asks for something that you don’t handle, it’s far more effective to say, “Let me get you to someone in the area you need. I work in the paint department. You want electronics.”

This is far more effective than telling someone it’s not your department. And please don’t say, “YOU have the wrong department.”

3. “I wasn’t here that day” (or “I was on vacation when that happened”)

This one really makes me laugh. I don’t remember asking them if they were there that day. Do you really think the customer cares if you weren’t there when their problem happened? Honestly, they don’t, so that’s not even on the radar screen. Just tackle the problem head on. Apologize without telling them where you were…or weren’t. Remember, you ARE the company whether you were at work or on vacation when the issue occurred.

4. “I’m new”

Ohhhh, you’re new? Now what? Does being ‘new’ allow you to be anything but super to the customer? When the customer hears this sabotaging statement, do you really think they say, “Oh, so you’re new? So that’s why I’m getting bad service? Well, then that’s okay…you’re new. Now I understand.”

Yes, even if you are new, the customer honestly believes you should know everything about your job.

Here’s the answer on this one. Tell the customer, “Please bear with me, I’ve only been here a few weeks.” That will buy you time and a bit of sympathy. For whatever reason, hearing the short length of time you are with the company means more to the customer than, “I’m new.” Again, I’m new is more of an excuse. Remember to state the length of time. It’s a creditability enhancement. “I’m new” is a creditability buster.

5. Silence on the phone or a blank stare in person

I called into an unnamed franchise the other day and asked to ask a question. It went down like this:

“Hi, this is Nancy Friedman. I need some information. What is the chance of getting into a class today?”

Then NOTHING for about 10 – 15 seconds. Zip/nada/zilch.

So I said, “Hello? Are you there?”

A very irritated, annoyed voice came back with, “I’m checking.”

Wouldn’t it have been nice for her to tell me that? Ah, if the owners only new.

Is your staff sabotaging your franchise?

Franchise Business Review helps franchisors build brand loyalty by measuring and improving customer satisfaction using our simple, low-cost ShareMyFeedback tool. Contact us to learn how you can use ShareMy Feedback to identify customer service issues before they sabotage your brand.


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