One sure-fire way to help your franchise business succeed is to develop a strong relationship with your franchisor – but how do you do this?
Just like any good relationship, it begins with a common interest (the franchise) and is built on a backbone of trust as well as mutual respect, but do not forget to add a little personality in there – you want to maintain a professional bond, but you will only gain from developing a more personal relationship.
Every interaction is important when it comes to this bond; from your initial enquiry, through the application process and onwards through the support you receive once your franchise is set up. Just remember that your franchisor has access to a huge amount of data, training and other resources from which you could benefit enormously.
In the beginning
Your franchise process will typically start with you sending an application to your franchisor – a submission that is generally all about the more formal aspects of your experience and abilities. Read through your application several times – and get someone else to do so too – to avoid any errors appearing, thus underlining how professional you are.
If your application is accepted then you will generally be invited for one or more interviews at the franchisor’s headquarters. It is important to remember that the interviewers will have seen that you could be a potentially successful candidate on paper, so the interview is more about what you are like as a person, so remember to loosen up a little and ask lots of questions to show your interest.
The person that you meet with will want to assess whether your personality is suited to the business, but they will also be aiming to see if – on a personal level – you would be someone they would want to work alongside. In-the-flesh meetings – as opposed to telephone calls – are great for getting to know the franchisor and showing a bit of charm.
If your interview is successful and the franchisor is happy to take you on board, then chances are you have got along well with them. Moving forward to the opening of your business and beyond, you want to retain a mixture of professional honesty and efficiency with a dash of sociability.
An important touchpoint for a good business relationship is knowing what your franchise agreement entitles you to in terms of support. Your franchisor will want you to ask for help and learn from them, but at the same time there are some times in which a bit of initiative is necessary. One way of tarnishing a friendship is to take up too much of their time with questions that are perhaps unnecessary.
Similarly, to run your own business takes a cool head, so while they may expect you to get in touch when things are tough, they will also want you to take responsibility wherever possible. If you can get them to respect you as a businessman and a person, then you are well on your way to the ideal franchisee-franchisor relationship.
There are countless business tips that apply to franchises, but in terms of your relationship with a franchisor the most important ones arguably relate to effective communication.
Sometimes, for example, an email conversation can turn a little hostile because words are not taken in the spirit intended. If this type of situation develops with someone from your franchisor, then immediately pick up the phone or go to see them in person, as this will normally help resolve things.
Another important tip is that you should try to persuade your franchisor to go off-script. They will have guidelines that they will use to educate you on how to make the business a success, but chances are that the person you are speaking to has all sorts of other experiences they can share with you. Talk to them as a person rather than as a teacher and encourage them to share real-world tips.
Beyond this, the basics of human interaction are of course important; be friendly, considerate, enthusiastic, patient and as charming as you can, so that your franchisor has no choice but to like you!