We are franchise operations professionals. We choose not a headliner but to give the headlines to our franchisees.
If franchise professionals had a “oath”, is this what it would be?
One of the key ways in which we can work together with franchisees is to build committees, which typically starts with an advisory board. In the first post, we discussed the need to strike a balance between the strengths of franchisors and the strengths of franchisees.
Advisory Boards – the Basics
According to Entrepreneur.com: “An advisory board is typically composed of a number of existing franchisees and is designed to provide the franchisor with input from their perspective. This is especially valuable for the franchisor since this perspective is usually the one closest to both the customer and the cash register.”
Advisory boards are as varied as the brands in the industry itself. According to the International Franchise Association, here are some interesting facts about advisory boards that you should consider:
- More than 90% of the Advisory Councils have their members elected by franchisees, rather than appointed by the franchisor.
- Advisory Councils typically meet with the franchisor, either quarterly or semiannually, and the members serve primarily in an advisory capacity.
- Topics discussed with these Advisory Councils vary considerably and may cover goods and services, equipment, advertising, operations, corporate policy as well as communications.
8 Best Practice Tips for Franchise Advisory Councils
- Have a charter for the council that is flexible as the needs of the council changes.
- Have leadership positions such as President, Secretary and Communications Chair. These should be 1-year appointments.
- Have new members coming into the council on a yearly basis to ensure members do not become “entrenched”.
- Have broad goals for the council.
- Ensure you have an agenda for each meeting, so it does not become a “gripe session”.
- Have senior members of the franchise join the meeting and bring in specialists for specific topics such as a training manager for training matters or an advertising agency for a marketing campaign.
- If a creative new initiative is “hatched” in the meeting, make sure that members actually participate in them rather than just talk. This gets skin in the game and reduces the risk of the council becoming an “ivory tower”.
- Following each session, have a communication go out to the field. This could take the form of a Facebook Live with all members speaking and taking questions, a webinar or even a special newsletter discussing the meeting’s result. The format is less important than the message that feedback is alive and well in the organization.
How Franchise Advisory Boards Connect to Franchise Sales
When it comes to franchise development, your franchisees are your most effective franchise sales persons. Fostering harmonious relations in many different ways benefits a franchisor’s ability to expand. In the world of instant global communications, prospective franchisees are investigating franchise systems before investing in them. A prospective franchisee will quickly become aware of any significant discord, and its presence may raise serious doubts about the desirability of joining that system.
Franchise Scorecard Initiatives
One of the biggest trends to hit franchising in recent years is franchisee scorecards. If you are implementing such an initiative it is wise to include your advisory committee. Often council members include more successful franchisees including multi-units. They often have ideas about what should be included on a scorecard for operations to succeed.
Although some franchisors can think of it as an “us vs. them” – under the first peel of the onion, it is really much subtler. Often, franchisees will want to improve quality across the board. Like a sports team, where strong members of the team want everyone to be strong, and they don’t want people to hold the success back. In a world of shared google reviews, today it is more important than ever to create authentic connections.
This can also create leadership within the system about the scorecards, rather than the franchisees feeling like they are being graded by the franchisors. Everyone improves with better unit economics in our current, high competition environment.
Humans have a basic need to be heard. Those who are entrepreneurial, in a franchise system, need that even more than the average human. In my experience, having project committees is a way to resolve contentious issues.
For better or worse, I am the one who likes to take on the most challenging project. In my humble opinion, when the mountain is higher, the view from the peak is more beautiful. The rough ride, the bumps along the road are what makes you stronger – the tension, creates something extraordinary.
Having a project committee can have the following benefits:
- Prevents the “bunker” mentality with projects coming out from home office that are not seen as beneficial by the franchisees.
- Ensures franchisees have a sense of being heard and understood.
- Working together on an initiative make it stronger, since the franchisees bring a lot of local knowledge.
In my next post, I am going to show you step-by-step through my project committee formula down to sample agendas. As usual, you will get the opportunity to use my tools and make them your own.
Stefania is the Sr. Marketing Director at FranchiseBlast. She comes from 20 years in the Marketing world, 10 of them in progressively Sr. positions in Marketing – most recently as the Director of Marketing and IT Development at Tutor Doctor. During the course of her career she has worked with companies like Microsoft, 3M, Shred-it and the Intercontinental Hotel. While at Shred-it, Stefania was recognized by Google as operating a best practice in managing a franchise PPC campaign and her website at Tutor Doctor won an “Outstanding Achievement in Internet Advertising” award by the Web Marketing Association in 2016.
Stefania has taken part in several speaking engagements across North America about entrepreneurship, franchising, marketing and technology and has volunteered for numerous organizations helping children, artists and educational institutions; she is a volunteer with Futurepreneur as a mentor, and does a number of community initiatives. She was also the past Communications Chair of the Queen’s Alumni Association of Toronto. She holds an MBA from Queen’s University and a Bachelor of Commerce from Carleton University. She lives in Vaughan, Ontario with her husband, Matthew and two children, AJ and Violet.