3 ways to avoid franchise disputes
When you own or run a franchise system, your focus is on the growth and success of the brand. So the threat of disputes within the system – and the potential time, cost and emotional effort spent on managing these – can understandably cause some angst.
Things can go from peachy to pear-shaped pretty quickly but there are a number of steps and activities you can implement to avoid disputes in your franchise.
One of the root causes of discontent amongst franchisees can often be feeling neglected. It’s not uncommon for franchisees to receive frequent contact from the franchisor during recruitment and training stages, only to start trading and be left to their own devices.
Whilst those initial stages are essential to empowering franchisees to be self-sufficient, the nature of franchising is one which necessitates regular and meaningful support.
Ways in which this can be implemented include:
- Monthly field visits
- One-on-one meetings with franchisor executives
- Access to an Intranet or community forum
- Ongoing training
- Support for local area marketing
Feedback from franchisees should be encouraged and genuinely taken on board. While I’m certainly not suggesting that every piece of feedback needs to be implemented, franchisees need to feel safe and supported in bringing feedback – whether positive or constructive – to the franchisor’s attention.
Feedback can be formal, for example, via a ‘feedback box’, or informal, such as through email or during one-on-one meetings. The important thing is to clearly define and understand the feedback, go away and consider or investigate further, and follow up.
Not only can encouraging feedback build stronger relationships with your franchisees, but it can often also result in building your brand. Franchisees are at the coalface, so have unique insight into customer behaviour and trends that is often not possible from head office.
It might sound strange to suggest that celebrating wins can contribute to avoiding disputes but doing this can contribute to a positive culture and growth mindset within the system.
This in turn naturally leads to better relationships, franchisees who act as ambassadors for the brand, and even a more forgiving attitude when things go wrong.
In addition to celebrating wins, some examples of positive action I’ve seen in great franchise systems include:
- Annual conferences that provide resources, networking and learning for its franchisees
- Grand-opening and anniversary promotions
- Gifts for personal milestones like birthdays or weddings
- Acknowledging and rewarding high-performing franchisees
- Community sponsorships or fundraising support
These tips all have a common focus – being a focus on relationships. When these relationships are supported and nurtured, the likelihood of disputes arising is significantly lessened. As a result, your brand can grow and flourish. After all, prevention is the best cure!