Franchisee engagement is a term on everyone’s lips after the recent International Franchise Association (IFA) convention in Orlando. But, what does it truly mean?
Authentic franchisee engagement is about having your people truly feel like they are part of the organization. Not just on the piece of paper where they signed on the dotted line, but from deep inside of them.
But, it is easier said than done.
Below, are some tools and technology to help engage every person in your network.
The first engagement touchpoint in the franchisee lifecycle is training. It starts with the road to opening, and then typically a live session at the Home Office. There are also sometimes certifications associated with the industry, such as a Certified Senior Advisor, for instance or franchisor staff may need to be trained as well. Many franchisors also find it worthwhile to pursue financial training such as Profit Mastery.
eLearning is also something that can be hugely helpful for ongoing training and even training around rollouts.
Seasonal programs and rollouts are the bread and butter for franchisors. But finding a staff member who can do an effective rollout is like seeking out a unicorn.
Love it or hate it, e-mail is often the first go-to tool for franchisors to send out operations and marketing eBlasts. Measuring responses is a great way to determine engagement, when you are using the right tools.
On the other hand, franchisees “go numb” to communication when you bombard them with too many e-mails.
As a result, there are other ways to roll out programs, such as posting in the intranet, integrating in webinar and video communication and even adding in ratings system, for the brave among us. Having franchisees create their own articles on the intranet, or their own videos will go even further with the rest of the system.
Finally, to avoid one person in your office getting bogged down and overloaded with e-mail, you can invest in a ticketing system, with role-based responses.
- E-Mail: Constant Contact, MailChimp
- Intranet: FranchiseBlast
- Video: Vimeo
- Ticketing: FreshDesk, ZenDesk
We are in a collaborative world, nowadays. Today’s owners don’t want to sit back and passively receive information from Home Office. They want to connect back and forth. And, when you think about it, the franchisees wanting to roll up their sleeves and abandon the “employee mentality” is a positive thing.
At the heart of field support, is some of the following functions:
- On-site training
- Key Performance Indicator (KPI) review
- Ongoing business coaching
- Financial review
- Field audit visits
Field Auditors have the hardest job in franchising, but the more two-way communication they have, the stronger the relationship will be.
The annual convention is the most fundamental investment any franchisor can make. There are the formal learning benefit, then the informal social benefits (which, if you are doing it right will be a highlight for everyone).
Generally, conventions are the glue that holds everyone together.
To level-up your event, include an app, or even add in a gamification element to it.
The evolutionary version of 1:1 communication, is a 1:many collaboration! Collaborating, by building projects together with franchisees will enhance engagement and grow trust.
Instead of creating things in the Home Office vacuum, and hoping they will stick, try to collaborate “on the fly” with franchisees using the latest tools.
Looking to have some fun while collaborating? You can also utilize crowdsourcing for an engaging and collaborative experience, have design contests with many designers, and get franchisees to vote.
You can connect with franchisees, regionally, or by a special interest group, via text, a form of communication up to 500x more powerful than e-mail.
Finally, you can create business plans collaboratively with franchisees, which has been shown to enhance engagement and ameliorate outcomes.
- Communication: Slack, Facebook Groups
- Text: TextMagic EZTexting
- Crowdsourcing: Crowdspring, 99Designs
- Planning: FranchiseBlast
Tools will never replace the human touch when it comes to franchisee engagement, but they do enhance the experience, and spark the imagination. We will be updating this article regularly, so come back soon to see our most recent recommendations.