Did you use any type of survey before this? If so, was it internal or another vendor?
In addition to the Franchise Business Review survey, we do an annual survey of franchisees to gather information from them on different aspects of their business and see what additional help they need. The importance of the two surveys—ours is internal and I look at the FBR survey as being external from a third party—is that franchisees might be willing to provide more information, be more frank, and be more open on a third-party survey.
Why did you decide to survey your franchisees with FBR?
The Franchise Business Review survey asks specifically, “If you had to do this over again, would you do it?” These pointed questions are ones that are better coming from a third-party.
Were you surprised at all by the results?
Yes, positively. I knew we had a good relationship with our franchisees, but our franchisees were very kind to us and spoke very highly about the business and the support they received from us. In a third-party survey, franchisees speak more freely, and, in our case, they spoke more positively than I would have even expected.
Do you share your results with your franchisees? If so, what reaction/feedback have you received?
High level, we do.
What are the top three ways you use your franchisee satisfaction data?
1. Management/operations—Everyone here at a management level looks at the survey results and looks for areas where we need to address anything. In our case, it provides validation that things are good but it can also show us areas where franchisees need more training and support.
2. Franchise sales—Prospective franchisees don’t have the opportunity to really know whether our franchisees are happy or not until they get to the validation stage, which is quite far into the process. The Franchise Business Review survey gives them a credible third-party response early on.
3. Benchmarking—By doing the survey year after year after year, we can see whether we improved in certain areas that we needed to address. FBR provides insight that we can compare across previous years.
An area of our survey that is often rated low is top-down communication with franchisees? How do you ensure that franchisees feel “in the loop”?
I am a very open-door guy. I try to be physically present in the field with our franchisees. Franchisees know that they can reach out to me through everything from phone to email to text – weekdays or weekends. Our management team is the same. We know that problems don’t just arise Monday through Friday, 9-5. Franchisees know if they need us they can reach us at any time.
We tend to see higher dissatisfaction among franchisees at the 2-5 year tenure point. How do you ensure that your franchisees still feel supported down the road? What do you provide in the way of ongoing training once your franchisees are on board?
This is a reality in franchising and in business development in general. As businesses mature, franchisees reach a point where they need a different level of support than they did in the first two years. In the first two years, they need very hands-on operational support, but come Year 2 to Year 4, they need more strategic and sometimes more psychological support. For example, they might have cash flow problems, which they didn’t have early on. They typically have employee management issues that need to be addressed in order to get the business to the next level. Their problems are different and if we don’t provide the right support to address those problems, franchisees can become dissatisfied.
Some CEOs tell us that their franchisees are inundated with surveys and emails and they just don’t want to send them something else. What would you say to those CEOs?
You have to prioritize what it is you are sending to your franchisees if you really feel like you’re inundating them. I would put the FBR survey at the top of the priority list because third-party, objective feedback is vital to how your run your business and the support you provide. It can reveal a hidden problem. If your franchisees are inundated, you need to prioritize but I wouldn’t cut out the FBR survey.