Change management 101

As a franchisor, Tutor Doctor has gone through many changes over the past few years: we've implemented a re-brand, introduced a bespoke online tutoring platform, created our own CRM-system and much more.

Change management 101

As a franchisor, Tutor Doctor has gone through many changes over the past few years: we’ve implemented a re-brand, introduced a bespoke online tutoring platform, created our own CRM-system and much more. And the key thing for the success of all of them was to communicate with our network every step of the way. Communication is important in every aspect of business but when it comes to managing change, it’s more crucial than ever. In order to keep our 600-strong worldwide network informed, our communication, from our choice of language to the frequency and method of delivery, was meticulously planned and executed.

Whether franchisor or franchisee, the ability to communicate to your stakeholders – your network, your prospects, your customers and your staff – will make all the difference. It’s your chance to soften the blow of impact when any change is eventually implemented. You’ll need a solid schedule in place with strict plans for releasing internal communications, as well as procedures that actively support individuals throughout the process. It’s a sad truth but, no matter how much you prepare, you can’t please everyone.

Change will directly impact lives and businesses, so you’re bound to get a little grumble. But the way you go about communicating the process can help put minds at rest. Remember that change affects everyone so it’s vital to provide reassurance that everyone is in it together. The way I like to approach this is to think of everyone like a valued customer, no matter where they sit in the business journey: how will this change benefit them? Have this message plastered throughout your communications to encourage everyone to get on board. Demonstrate value.

One of the most important parts of any change management process is the announcement. The timing of releasing your news is crucial to how it’s going to be received. It’s best to give yourself plenty of breathing space after the announcement to answer any burning questions – and, believe me, you’ll get them. People will be eager to find out more, asking how it’s going to impact them and what it means for the future. That’s completely normal so your timing needs to be impeccable. Bear in mind the peaks and troughs of business too: will it be too much for a franchisee, member of staff or customer to handle at this moment in time? Taking the time to consider their feelings will set you up for a great reception.

Understandably, change can be a huge shift, in both practice and mindset. Franchisors should understand that franchisees will be feeling the pressure from everyday business and getting to grips with any new systems or processes will only add to that. Build a resource pack that’s easily accessible at any stage of the process and constantly remind them that it’s there to use. This can be a central hub – including details on timings, training, any tasks that need to be completed before key deadlines like migration of data and a reminder of timelines. Any information that’s then released by newsletter or on a webinar, can be instantly posted onto the hub for convenience.

It’s important to not bombard people with information either. Especially franchisees, who have their own business to run. Getting inundated with too many specifics will get annoying – and that’s when you’ll start to feel a slight resistance. Think about sharing your information in a variety of ways, something we like to do via ‘seven touchpoints’. It’s more commonly known as a marketing tool but it can be adopted for other sorts of communication too. By presenting information in a manner of ways, through videos, newsletters and podcasts, things become more easily digestible. When new information can be consumed with maximum convenience, people have time to make sense of it all without the risk of becoming overwhelmed.

Change management can be difficult, especially if it’s going to affect many stakeholders. By approaching the situation with a clear schedule and plan of action, you can smooth out any rough edges to make the process even easier. Resistance is natural but by being able to provide reassurance through your communication you can handle any setbacks.

Frank Milner
Frank Milner