Perhaps one of the most important things when it comes to building a successful franchise network as a franchisor is frequent and effective communication with your franchisees, whether it’s about the day-to-day running of the business or their training requirements.
But in this day and age, it’s all too tempting to rely on email to communicate, bypassing face-to-face interactions. This is a big mistake as it not only makes franchising less personal but it can also make your franchisees feel less motivated. You need to remember that franchisees bought into your business because of you and your ability to communicate with them. They wanted to feel like a member of a wider business family.
Good franchisors communicate with their franchisees using different avenues, not just relying on the occasional email or newsletter. They understand that relationships are built with dialogue and personal interaction. This can be quite challenging when franchises are spread out across the country, so the network’s annual general meeting (AGM) offers franchisors the perfect opportunity to reconnect with their franchisees and keep the lines of communication open.
Traditionally, franchisors use their AGM to review the progress they’ve made over the past year, discuss future plans and address any key issues affecting the business and the sector. However, these meetings can be so much more. The last thing a franchisor should do is overwhelm franchisees with information and miss a great opportunity for team building and collaboration.
Apart from selecting a venue that’s convenient for everybody, you need to ensure that the space is versatile and allows you to plan other activities around your meeting. Remember: the formal business of the AGM doesn’t have to be the only thing that happens at the event.
Interesting speakers and informative sessions can make it more appealing to the franchisees. Invite speakers who will share their expert knowledge on business topics your franchisees need to know more about, such as PR and social media, and use the time to hold training sessions too. For example, at Extra Help’s last AGM we gave franchisees the opportunity to complete psychometric assessments, which helped them understand how to cope better with pressure and identify their leadership styles or preferred methods of communication.
Recognition is also an important part of building a positive business culture. It’s easy to get caught up with financial targets and assume that your franchisees already know that you appreciate their hard work because their figures look good. So why not organise your own internal awards, with categories such as Best Customer Service or Fastest-growing Franchisee of the Year? This will not only recognise your franchisees’ hard work but will also reinforce your network’s values.
Last but not least, don’t forget to have fun and relax. Our annual meeting gives us the chance to unwind and get to know each other better. And after the official meeting, we usually go out for dinner and drinks. This makes everyone feel like they’re part of the family and encourages collaboration across the network. Find out what your franchisees enjoy doing and organise some fun time as well. After all, you know what they say about all work and no play.