Keeping franchisees happy through mergers and growth

By Sarah Stowe | 02 Nov 2015 View comments

Results of the latest survey on franchisee satisfaction have been released and this year's topfranchise.com.au's listing reflects the two different approaches taken in mergers and acquisitions.

That's according to 10 Thousand Feet and topfranchise.com.au’s head of intelligence Ian Krawitz.

Smartline has remained top for four years. In 2009 and 2010 Mrs Fields was ranked in the top three; in late 2011 it dropped out of the topfranchise.com.au top 10 listing; now it is back at number seven.

Krawitz told Franchising "When Mrs Fields took over Cookie Man the franchisee satisfaction dropped off, now they have their eyes back on the ball the levels are back up. After Smartline's merger there was no change to the franchisee satisfaction levels.

"This points to the merits of being planned and structured about mergers and growth," said Krawitz.

Krawitz also pointed to the benefits of clarity in communication at times of change. "If you are on the front foot ahead of changes you can get the franchisees on board, keep satisfaction levels high, and the trust levels up.

“We have seen that clearly outlining the vision for the business and the benefits and changes ahead is critical in any merger and has a significant impact on the satisfaction of franchisees.”

 

Mrs Fields

 

Andrew Benefield, CEO and owner of Mrs. Fields said “We bought Cookie Man opportunistically when it was in liquidation without any clear strategy with what to do with it. The management team and I then got consumed in understanding the Cookie Man business and also understanding how the market place is changing Post GFC. We clearly missed the time to pay attention to the basics with Mrs. Fields franchisees.

“We couldn’t share the vision for how we would manage each brand before the acquisition with franchisees or even three months in as we were working it out ourselves.”

 

Smartline

 

Smartline Personal Mortgage Advisers has gone through two mergers in the past three years and maintained franchisee satisfaction levels throughout. Franchisee Kevin Lee has been with the company since 1999. He said the company has always been transparent about the reasons for the acquisitions.

"Smartline has an incredible culture. In the past three years our size doubled through acquisitions to over 200 franchisees but I haven't noticed a change in the franchisee service levels from the support office. Through both of the mergers we knew about them before they happened and I got to meet franchisees from the company prior to the merger. The impact after each merger has been minimal."

 

About the survey

 

More than 3000 franchisees across 80 systems were surveyed by marketing firm 10 Thousand Feet. Each franchisee is asked 35 questions in key areas, with the feedback used to benchmark performance in comparison to other franchise systems.