Published August 22, 2012
Eric Stites (our fearless CEO) moderated a franchisee panel at the Faegre event earlier this month and it seemed to really hit home with the franchisors in the audience. In fact, I actually saw franchisors trying to woo the franchisees over to their brands over cocktails later that night!
Two of Eric’s panelists had experience in franchising going all the way back to childhood: John Francis, a former Postnet franchisee who now works with the corporate office, grew up with a father that created a franchise, and was with the corporate office as they sold to Regis; and Nick Roers, a Rapid Refill franchisee who started with Baskin Robbins, Anytime Fitness and other non-franchise businesses. These guys provided great insight into what franchisees want from Franchisors (take note smart franchisors,–you definitely want high performing, engaged franchisees like these):
Marketing Kits: Offer direction and vision, it’s what our customers want, and Nick said Baskin Robbins provided a new one every 6 weeks that he could just execute.
Detailed Profitability in the Item 19: Expectations set up front, honest and realistic numbers showing what it takes to be profitable.
Franchisors who know what franchisees need WHEN they need it: Franchisees need different support when they are new vs when they are older, successful vs struggling, etc.,-so franchisors need to structure their support teams to be constructive at the right time for the franchisee.
Talk about failing/slipping up front: John and Nick said people don’t talk about failure when they are in the selling/buying process. Warning prospective franchisees about it and talking about what the corporate team AND the franchisee can do to heed if off, is important.
Mentors: When franchisees are new, when they are off track, leverage internal knowledge to help them through
Shared Data/Knowledge: The more financial and KPIs the better. Some specific mentions of dashboards to show me vs the system, me vs the best, and Top Line Sales out of the POS.
“No Surprises Communication” and Absolute Truth: Whatever it is you need franchisees to do for the brand, show them what’s in it for them.
Corporate Staff who understand the franchisee perspective: It would be great to have all employees in the corporate location have some kind of experience in the field, staff that doesn’t email or call me when they know I am busiest with customers or running my business. As the panelists said, “When I call into corporate, I want the staff to remember that for them it’s a job and paycheck, but for me it’s my life.”
The financial success of John and Nick makes their advice worth heeding. Beyond that, they are both committed to their brands, corporate teams, and other franchisees. They give back through the mentor programs, they help franchisors roll changes out to the system, and they keep the franchisees positive and moving forward with the brand. I would encourage you to have your own franchisee panel – listen to what they have to say, have them share with your other franchisees at your annual convention, and implement the ideas above. It’s what top performers and leaders among your franchisees want, and, increasingly, what they EXPECT.