Published March 13, 2020

4 Warning Signs of Franchisee Dissatisfaction

While working with over 1,100 franchise systems over the past 16+ years, we have seen the gamut in franchisee feedback at Franchise Business Review. Your franchisees are unhappy or disengaged if you observe one or more of the four warning signs below.

1. Franchise Advisory Council (FAC)/Independent Franchisee Associations are implementing their own surveys.

If your FAC or franchisee association is initiating their own surveys, you are most likely not proactively obtaining franchisee feedback. This, in turn, means you may be perceived as not caring very much about how franchisees are feeling or addressing their issues, which can lead to a fractured relationship.

With this in mind, take the reins and implement a franchisee satisfaction survey prior to your FAC or association doing so. It will serve as both a business and relationship-building tool. There is no better way to show franchisees you want to know what they think and, if you act on the feedback, that you are listening to them. If you leave it to them to initiate a survey, you’ll miss the opportunity to shape the way questions are asked in order to address topics that are crucial to your system’s success.

2. Anonymous surveys.

Typically 40% of the franchisees we survey share their name. It is interesting to note that those who do don’t always provide the most glowing reviews. If only a handful of your franchisees are providing their names when surveyed, this could be a red flag. Why are they not doing so? Do they feel it could be detrimental to them?

Whatever the reason, it has to be addressed since ideally you want as many franchisees as possible to identify themselves. When they do, your corporate team can follow up with additional questions and more effectively assist specific franchisees. If your management team takes the time to follow up with each person who shared their name, thanks them for their feedback and speaks more with them, other franchisees will hear about it.

This helps to create an open and honest corporate culture that fosters constructive feedback, instead of dissent and ranting. Explain to your franchisees the importance of participating in surveys and your hope that they will share who they are so that you can serve them better and strengthen the system.

3. Low survey participation.

If franchisees feel you aren’t acting on franchisee satisfaction survey data or are disengaged, they will stop participating in surveys. Don’t just undergo an annual franchisee satisfaction survey without taking action to address issues it may have highlighted.

Instead, take the time to follow up with franchisees. Share with them where your system is doing well and where improvements are needed based on the survey data. Tell them what plans are in place to address the issues that came up.

Disengaged franchisees are potentially a threat to your brand since you do not know what they are thinking and, therefore, what they are telling potential franchisees or media outlets.

4. New franchisees rate your training and support low.

Our research shows that nearly 1 in 5 new franchisees rate training and support “poor” or “average”. That’s 20% of new franchisees who are unimpressed right out of the gate.

When new franchisees open their doors for the first time they should be raving about all your system does for them. If they aren’t, it’s imperative to immediately find out why and to fix whatever issues you can.

Communication is crucial. Let franchisees know that you listened to what they shared with you, the changes you are going to implement, and when they should be expect to see them rolled out.

If you see these warning signs within your system, Franchise Business Review can help you to positively and proactively address them.


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About the Author: Michelle Rowan

Michelle is the president of FBR, chair of the International Franchise Association Women's Franchise Committee, and a Certified Franchise Executive. She has facilitated CEO Performance Groups and Executive Networking Groups and is also a mentor of UNH college students. When she is not at work she is usually reading, playing outside, or hanging out with her husband and daughter.
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