The franchise business model is one which offers many advantages to those looking to start their own business as it comes with a ready-made brand and on-hand assistance with marketing and business modelling. The challenge in a franchise often comes down to the relationship between franchisor and franchisee. Building a strong relationship between franchisor and franchisee is essential for a successful business, and can be achieved by some forethought on both parties. Understanding the culture that the franchisor and franchisee build together and then meeting their commitments within that culture is the way for franchise success.
Culture is the combined system of beliefs, values and ethics as well as the business purpose within which transactions between franchisor and franchisee take place. Hopefully, before initiating the relationship both parties looked carefully at the culture to see if it was a good fit for them - if the culture is examined critically before launching into a partnership, the prospect for a good relationship down the line is much improved.
Once in a relationship, the responsibility for culture is shared. Robert Ray, communication expert at Writinity and Research papers UK proposes that “the franchisor must make space for fair business conduct and some degree of autonomy for the franchisee. At the same time, the franchisee needs to recognise their role in the broader organization.” Working within the organization’s culture is an essential element to building a strong relationship.
Once the shared culture of franchisor and franchisee has been understood, steps towards building a good relationship between franchisor and franchisee entail commitment from both parties to certain obligations and behaviours. Understood in this context, the relationship becomes easy to manage as these commitments are explicated and met. This cannot be a one-sided relationship: if the franchisee is made to feel beholden to the franchisor, resentment is guaranteed to build as the franchisee’s hard work is unacknowledged. However, if the franchisee does not work within the franchisor’s framework other problems will arise. Let’s look at the varying commitments of each party.
The Franchisor’s Commitment
The franchisor’s role is the support of the brand and system within which the franchisee is operating. Improving the relationship between franchisor and franchisee means maintaining these commitments - so continuing to innovate and support the system that the franchisor has created. If franchisees feel that they are forced to develop a business model at the same time as working on the day-to-day business operations the relationship will become frayed, as the franchisors commitments are not being met.
The franchisor is also committed to the continuous support of the franchisee - this means long-lasting input so that the franchisee does not feel isolated. “Regular communication with the franchisee is essential,” says Jennifer Gillman, a business writer at Draft beyond and Last minute writing, “as the franchisor needs to provide a knowledge base from which the franchisee can draw. Problem-solving new challenges is one of the commitments of the franchisor.” By continuous upkeep of these commitments, the relationship between franchisor and franchisee can be strengthened on an ongoing basis.
The Franchisee’s Commitments
Because this is a relationship that entails equal input, the franchisee also has commitments that must be met. By contributing to the culture and the commitments of the business, the franchisee can contribute to improving the relationship as well. The franchisee’s main commitment is the recognition that they’re working within the system created by the franchisor, and accepting those constraints - even valuing them.
One common mistake franchisees make that erodes the relationship with their franchisor is allowing resentment to build once the franchise is up and running. It can sting to hand over the franchise fee on a monthly basis if the franchisee forgets that they are working within a system created by the franchisor and doesn’t value that system. The franchisee must recognise that a measure of their success is thanks to the strong brand and working system developed by the franchisor. Resisting this bias is a key commitment of the franchisee and one which will work to strengthen the relationship they partake in.
Til Death Do Us Part
Like all relationships, there must be room for understanding between each party, and so the commitments that franchisor and franchisee have undertaken can be open to discussion. Both sides need to understand that tweaking these commitments as circumstances change can be for the benefit of the relationship. If culture and commitments are understood by each party, the franchisor and franchisee relationship will be strengthened, and business success will be guaranteed.