10 franchisee mistakes that frustrate franchisors

By Greg Nathan | 17 Sep 2019 View comments

An article I recently wrote on 10 common franchisor mistakes that annoy franchisees generated a lot of interest.  But as we all know, franchising is a two-way relationship. To balance things out, here are some common frustrations that we hear from franchisors in our work at the Franchise Relationships Institute.

10 common franchisee mistakes that annoy franchisors

1. Releasing sensitive data

Leaking sensitive information about network initiatives to competitors or to the media, without considering the negative impact on the brand or their fellow franchisees. Franchisees with a gripe may think this is a good way to punish their franchisor, and naïve franchisees have been known to be manipulated into sharing information with journalists who have their own agenda.

2. Posting disruptive social media comments

Posting negative opinions or provocative comments about initiatives on internal Facebook or Google groups without mentioning all the facts. It’s easy for franchisees to use social media groups to have a cheap shot if they don’t like the sound of something. This just means the franchisor team (when they eventually hear about this) has to spend time and energy settling things down by sharing the full picture.

3. Being defensive

Getting defensive or angry when receiving fair but unpalatable feedback about how they are managing (or not managing) their business. One of the most important roles of a franchisor is to protect the brand, which means franchisor staff may need to tell franchisees to stop or start doing certain things. Some franchisees take this as a personal affront, even when it is given with the best of intentions.

4. Living in the past 

Blaming franchisor staff for mistakes or problems that occurred years ago, when these people had nothing to do with this. Remember, the average tenure of a franchisee is double that of most franchisor staff so that revisiting issues that predate the current franchisor team is seldom useful.

5. Employing self-serving bias

Attributing strong business results to their own hard work and talent, but blaming the franchisor team when business results are weak. Psychologists call this very human tendency to take the credit for the good, and blame others for the bad, as the “self-serving bias”. Unfortunately the franchisor team is in a lose-lose situation here, as it seldom gets the credit for anything.

6. Letting standards drop

Not maintaining brand standards by letting their business become run down, or by delivering a sub-standard customer experience. Because profit can always be increased in the short-term by cutting costs, franchisees can be reluctant to invest in ongoing staff training, or basic maintenance to keep their business looking sharp. This can be false economy if it drives customers away.

7. Demanding short-term benefits

Refusing to cooperate with brand initiatives that won’t deliver an immediate short-term benefit, even if these are clearly good for the network. While the franchisor is responsible for the strategic, long-term health of the network, franchisees tend to have more of a short-term, tactical focus on paying wages, utilities and rent. Getting franchisees to see the bigger picture is seldom easy.

8. Behaving like naughty children

Being disengaged or making underhand, derogatory comments in group meetings. Sometimes franchisees can behave like naughty children, giggling or getting distracted with side conversations when important information is being presented. This is disrespectful to both the presenter and to others in the room.

9. Letting off steam in group sessions

Using group meetings to stand up and aggressively grandstand about a pet issue that could have been more constructively addressed in a private conversation. When someone stands up to publically let off steam, it not only turns the atmosphere in a room negative, it can also derail the session and waste everyone’s time.

10. Ignoring franchisor communications

Not reading or responding to franchisor emails or intranet posts,and then complaining about poor communication. Franchisor teams often spend hours crafting updates and newsletters to keep franchisees informed, only to find franchisees are not putting aside the time to read these.

Because of the long-term, interdependent nature of the franchise relationship, both franchisees and franchisors are bound to occasionally make decisions or take actions which create tension, undermine trust, or just plain annoy the other party.

However if the relationship is seen as a work in progress where both parties are open to feedback, there is no reason why mistakes can’t become a foundation for a stronger, more prosperous future together.

What do you think?