Since joining the Any Lab Test Now home office team in 2007, my perception of the franchising industry has evolved and grown. Now, as the CEO of Any Lab Test Now, I want to share my hard-earned insights. We serve the healthcare segment, but I believe that many of the lessons I have learned will help other franchising systems realize the value of maintaining well-developed, open relationships with their franchisees.
Treat Franchisees Like Family
While one of home office’s objectives is to sell locations and expand the brand, franchisees are no ordinary customer. Unlike most interactions with buyers, the relationship does not end when a purchase is made. Rather than view franchisees as just another customer, think of them as family.
Just like in a family, there may be an occasional conflict, but disagreements are natural. When handled appropriately, they can actually benefit the relationship and contribute to company growth. Remember that the home office team and the franchisee are working toward a common goal — drawing in customers, providing a top-notch service or product and, at the end of the day, making a profit — so embrace different perspectives and opinions.
Along those lines, I’ve also found it critical to measure the results of any new campaign or initiative. Of course, this makes business sense: You want to know which were successful and which were not. But, it also helps in maintaining relationships, because hard numbers are often easier to understand than differing opinions. Having data in hand may help resolve conflict should it arise.
Support Your Franchisees
Your brand will suffer if you don’t invest time and resources into developing support services for your franchisees. From the moment a new franchise is awarded, it’s crucial to provide the owner with proper training and set them up for success. Failing to start the relationship with adequate support leads to a lower brand perception and ultimately a faster turnover rate.
It’s equally important to continue offering on-going support to franchisees. Continual training sessions and open communication will contribute to both a location’s well-being and your brand’s longevity. For example, at Any Lab Test Now, franchisees are assigned a dedicated contact whom they can contact to ask questions and receive personalized support at their convenience. This is critical to the system’s strength, because it’s the built-in support system that makes franchising so appealing to many entrepreneurs; they can maintain their independence through small business ownership, but don’t have to do it alone.
Encourage Franchisee Engagement
The final insight I’d like to offer is to actively seek feedback from franchisees — listen, listen, listen. Your franchisees have fantastic ideas and by keeping communication lines open, home offices can build relationships, trust and camaraderie with owners. As a result of having their voices heard and receiving balanced feedback, franchisees will feel more respected and are far more likely to develop a positive perception of the brand. Happy franchisees are an incredibly valuable asset as they are more likely to recommend investing in the brand to a friend, family member or potential new franchisee. Never underestimate the power of positive testimonials. Just remember to follow through on any commitments you make and act on their input when appropriate.
I’m grateful for the chances I’ve had to build this knowledge and be part of the Any Lab Test Now family over the past ten years. Certainly, franchisor/franchisee relationships may be complicated, but they are just that – relationships. They take work. Through support, respect and open communication, long-term success can be achieved for everyone.
To learn how you can join the Any Lab Test Now family, visit Franchise.AnyLabTestNow.com.