Want Franchisee Engagement? The Best Option Is C.L.E.A.R.

Shawn Russell
Shawn Russell

Various hanging lightbulbs

When you were a kid, your teachers told you what to do. In college, professors laid out your path to success. In business, your bosses helped you achieve your goals.

Now, as a franchisor, it’s your role to be the teacher, professor and boss. It’s up to you to shepherd your franchisees and give them the tools and resources they need to grow.

Their success, and your success, depends on it.

That’s why it’s so frustrating when your franchisees aren’t listening. Unopened emails. Customer complaints. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

You need franchisee engagement.

In a nutshell, franchisee engagement refers to a franchisee or employee who feels a sense of responsibility to the success of the organization. Engaged franchisees feel like they are partners in the organization, not just customers of it.

It’s not something your business can do without.

Engaging with your people isn’t a mystery. It simply requires a C.L.E.A.R. approach:

Communication

It might seem obvious, but your franchisees can’t carry out your vision for success if they don’t know what it is in the first place.

If you want them to follow protocol, carry out their part of an overarching marketing plan or uphold the high standards you expect, they need specific, actionable communication on how to do just that.

People are inundated with information, and your communications are just a layer in a growing stack they get each day. Your message needs to stand apart or it will get lost in the fray.

Taking your message to a wide demographic requires a cross-media approach with multiple communication tools: video, surveys, print, websites, events and more.

While the day-to-day communications can be handled via email or conference calls, larger news, such as product launches, game-changing announcements and hands-on training should be given a brighter spotlight through an immersive, engaging event.

In short, effective communication is often the most overlooked piece of the franchise engagement puzzle. Learn how to start a buzz among your team in our white paper, “Give Your Incentive Personality with Effective Communications.”

Listening

Communication isn’t always a one-way street. Sometimes, getting the best results requires you to get off your soapbox and to really listen to what your people are saying.

Spark a dialogue with your team to get to the underlying cause of their concerns. For instance, if your franchisees are complaining about a lack of required supplies at their stores, probing the concern further can get to the root of the problem—delayed warehouse shipments, supplier shortages, misuse or theft.

But bigger, foundational issues such as customer loyalty, the company’s competitive landscape and carrying out a marketing plan require something larger—not just a two-way street, but a two-way highway.

Monthly calls, networking events and company-wide conferences are a great way to get your people talking and foster productive, mutually beneficial conversation.

Encouragement

No matter how you slice it, asking your franchisees to conduct business in a different way comes across as a chore. Whether you want them to go through training, revamp store signage or overhaul their POS system, you’ll get the same response from your franchisees:

“What’s in it for me?”

Your people need a bit of encouragement to make it happen. Whether that’s a simple “thank you,” which one study finds effective in improving motivation, or publically recognizing a franchisee for a great job, it’s all about reinforcement through recognition.

What’s more, when peers witness that recognition at an event, they’ll want to work harder to be appreciated, too.

Ecstatic top performers and a room full of inspired franchisees? There’s nothing better.

Autonomy

Franchisees tend to be entrepreneurial people. For people with that sort of demeanor, always playing by someone else’s rules can be hard, and adding new rules and objectives to their list might raise objections.

That’s why autonomy, in small doses, might be just the thing. Reward your people by granting authority over smaller aspects of their business to keep them engaged. If they succeed with some, gradually add more to keep franchisees empowered.

As an added benefit, autonomy can ultimately benefit the franchisor by finding ways to improve processes, generate product ideas and more. As one Pizza Hut franchisee described in a University of Cambridge study, “how do you do the same thing, day after day, without trying to improve things?”

In the same study, a KFC corporate representative commented that most major successful initiatives have come from the franchise community, not from the top down, further accentuating the importance of autonomy for franchisees.

For franchisors, facilitating this sense of autonomy requires a purposeful approach. Encourage collaboration, networking and training seminars at events that bring people together to make the most of franchisee autonomy and find ways to improve across the organization.

Rewards

Encouragement is great. Everyone likes to receive praise from their boss and coworkers. But not everyone is inspired in the same way.

Some people are thrilled by the encouragement of public recognition at an event. Others want something more tangible—namely, rewards—to go along with that.

On top of publically recognizing top performers at an event, offer them a reward.

Not only do tangible rewards offer an impressive incentive to franchisees who go the extra mile, they provide “trophy value”: whenever they use their TV, computer or other incredible reward, they’ll remember it was you who gave it to them.

Engaging with your franchisees isn’t impossible, but it does require the right strategy. It takes communication, listening, encouragement, autonomy and rewards to get them to keep them engaged and help you achieve company-wide goals.

And, with a strategic event that harnesses the power of all five aspects, your franchisees will head back to work with renewed loyalty and dedication to your organization and remember your message long after they’ve gone home.

Shawn Russell

Shawn Russell

Shawn Russell is a results-driven marketing and communications professional with a proven record of accomplishment in developing and leading comprehensive marketing strategies to attain business goals and objectives. She’s excited about exceeding expectations, building advocacy and driving business—but she’s just as passionate about being a soccer mom and baking.