Communication, communication, communication

Achieving the balance your between obligations and collaborative communication can be key to building a successful franchise, says Sue Tumelty.


Achieving the balance your between obligations and collaborative communication can be key to building a successful franchise, says Sue Tumelty.

Any business owner will know that communication with colleagues is key to creating productivity and prosperity. Franchise organisations are unique in many ways, but the principle remains. 

To get the best out of franchisees, a franchisor will need to help communicate values and ethos as well as the nuts and bolts of running the business. And they are also obliged under the Code of Conduct to keep up a regular dialogue regarding, for example, contractual procedures and training.

In the other direction, franchisees themselves are required to communicate business records, provide data and retain confidential business information openly and honestly.

So, with digital technology rapidly taking the place of face-to-face meetings and paper filing systems, how do you ensure that lines of communication work best for your business?

The personal touch

At The HR Dept, we recognise that our franchisees are our customers and that our first priority is to keep them satisfied. So we communicate frequently with the network of licensees we have all over the UK and Ireland, with regional meetings twice yearly alongside digital communications.

Clearly geographic distances prevent regular face-to-face meetings and, with more than 60 experts operating independently around the British Isles, we have systems in place to provide up-to-date information about the tools, products and services we provide to help our franchisees market and run their businesses.

We also meet once a year at an annual conference, so that our licensees have event which demonstrates the scale of the organisation that they’re part of, while enabling them to meet and talk to the central office team and share experiences and knowledge with each other.

The growing importance of two-way communication

We make sure that our licensees are responded to quickly, and that any concerns they are addressed thoroughly, with due care and attention.

We also value the benefits of two-way communication, prioritising the importance of feedback as a means of improving our performance as a franchisor. 

It’s called active listening, and it really benefits our organisation. Not only do we receive vital information about how our products and services are being received by the small business community we serve, but the mutual respect between us (the franchisor) and our licensees means that when any conflict does occur both parties tend to seek for a constructive solution.

Keeping up with a changing world

Having said that our geographic spread makes face-to-face meetings difficult, of course in the post-Covid era, with online meetings becoming the norm rather than the exception, such concerns have disappeared somewhat. We still make efforts to visit our franchisees – our belief is that there’s no substitute for being in a room with someone – but the ability to set up a virtual meeting has made relationships much more open and easier to manage.

We’ve innovated with our digital communications, too, with a dedicated hub set up where our licensees can communicate with us and share knowledge with each other. 

Digital systems also enable us to keep clear records of interactions with our licensees, so that we have a record to refer to if necessary. It’s also a great way to gather valuable information to inform how we can continually improve what we do.

Sue Tumelty
Sue Tumelty