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New and Better Communication Tools for Your Franchise Network

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Franchising Bulletin

Any well-managed franchise network must possess relevant means and tools of communication that allow for a genuine and timely exchange of relevant information as well as (ideally constructive) criticism, ideas, comments and suggestions.

First and foremost, these tools, means and processes of information, communication and exchange must be clear, well-structured, known (especially to franchisees) and well understood.

There is a whole range of traditional tools and means by which a franchisor can communicate with its franchisees, motivate them and obtain their cooperation.

For many franchisors, these tools and means include:

  • Newsletters, directives, memoranda and other written communications (or, more recently, in audio or video formats) regularly transmitted by thefranchisor to its franchisees;
  • Meetings (one-on-one or in small or medium-sized groups) between officers of the franchisor and franchisees;
  • Assemblies, seminars, conventions and other gatherings to inform, train, educate and entertain the partners in the network, and often to recognize, in various forms, an exceptional contribution by one or more of them;
  • Several committees, working groups and advisory councils that bring together franchisees and the franchisor's management to discuss ad exchange information on a regular basis on subjects of interest to the entire franchise network;
  • Several training and information sessions for franchisees and their staff members; and
  • Conference calls, webinars and online meetings aimed primarily at informing franchisees of recent developments and the franchisor's decisions, initiatives and projects.

Although these tools are still relevant for most franchise networks, it would be beneficial for many of them to review their operations and adopt new ones that are even more effective, efficient and flexible.

In fact, close collaboration, rapid communication (in both directions), efficient execution of changes, accessibility and flexibility are today among the important keys to the success of any franchise network.

Today, the means and tools of communication within a franchise network have to be:

  1. Timely:

    Timeliness in the exchange of information and monitoring of developments between the franchisor and each of its franchisees is now critical to both timely and effective decision-making.

    Ideally, the means of communication should enable both the franchisor and each of its franchisees to know, in real time, what is happening within the network and its environment, as well as what is coming up for them.

  2. Truly Multi-Directional:

    Gone are the days of one-way communications from the franchisor to its franchisees.

    Franchisor-franchisee communication must now be multi-directional (franchisor-franchisee(s), franchisee(s)-franchisor and franchisee(s)-franchisee(s)).

    Also, communication tools within a network must allow franchisees to easily, openly and quickly express their ideas, concerns, criticisms and comments regarding communications received from the franchisor or other franchisees and, in general, facilitate and promote communications from franchisees as well as from the franchisor.

  3. Accessible and Flexible:

    It is often difficult (and expensive) to get many franchisees and many franchisor executives together at one time in a same location.

    The means of communication set up by a franchisor must therefore be accessible from various locations and at various times, which implies the use of various technological tools, whether by videoconference, podcast, interactive webinar, private page on a social network, private social network, communication platform, etc.

  4. Simple to Use and User-Friendly:

    Obviously, the simpler and more user-friendly they are, the faster the communication tools are adopted and used frequently.

  5. Economical:

    Many businesses, including franchisors and franchisees, are today facing significant financial challenges.

    This is not a good time to be acquiring and installing expensive new systems, even though these investments may pay off in the long run.

    At this time, franchisors should look for systems that are quick, efficient and economical (both for them and their franchisees).

    Notwithstanding this, the implementation of communication tools that meet the criteria described in this bulletin cannot wait, as the importance of fast and effective communications within a franchise network is immediate.

  6. Interesting and Stimulating:

    Finally, communication tools within a franchise network must be user-friendly, interesting and stimulating in order to encourage optimal use. 

    In oder to achieve this objective, one can think of various means of interest and motivation, including, for example, exchanges of a more social nature (such as virtual breakfasts and happy hours), various simple surveys of interest to the network, the search for and open exchange of creative ideas, the formation of special interest groups on a platform, a site or a private social network, etc. 

  7. More generally, one of the best ways to stimulate your franchisees' interest in communicating more frequently and openly with the franchisor is to ensure that their communications are responded to promptly and that their comments, ideas, recommendations, fears and criticisms are truly taken into account by the franchisor.

    Obviously, the communications tools within a franchise network must be adapted to the characteristics and resources of each network, and evolve with it. What is appropriate for a young franchise network with a dozen franchisees located in the same area is not at all appropriate for a network with more than a hundred franchisees spread over several markets.

    A good way for a franchisor to design and implement new, effective and truly useful communication tools within their network is simply not to try to do it alone, but in collaboration with their existing franchisees. This will allow you to get more ideas and suggestions, while at the same time ensuring a better collaboration with your franchisees and a better adhesion of the tools put in place at the end of this exercise (since they will have participated).


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