How can you rely on other franchisees in the network?

Sharing best practicesFranchisees are more likely to turn to their peers, who work in the same conditions as them and have identical points of comparison, than to the franchisor or his team.

The saying goes: “Alone, we move fast. Together, we go further”. If, as a franchisee, you really want to go further, you need to rely on the greatest resource in a network: your fellow franchisees. All franchisees can benefit from the experience of other company directors. Whether they are “old hands”, in their3rd or4th contract with the franchise, mastering the brand’s tools and services, and the subtleties of the relationship with the franchisor; or they have recently joined the network, more open to the franchisor’s latest innovations, remembering perfectly the gas pedals to success at start-up, and still imbued with the solidarity they received from their peers.

The operational manual, in case of hesitation about a peer recommendation

All franchisees of the same brand go through the same stages, identical situations, and experience the same difficulties, with the same initial resources. This unprecedented opportunity allows us to build our own story, drawing inspiration from the paths, and even shortcuts, taken by our peers in the same circumstances.

Such a windfall should not, however, deprive the franchisee of the opportunity to meet business leaders in other sectors (in entrepreneurs’ clubs)… Or to question the advice, recommendation or tip passed on by another franchisee, despite all the goodwill expressed by his colleague.

If this is the case, you have an absolute remedy: the franchisor’s operations manual. This know-how bible should always be referred to, and is a useful tool when it is kept up to date, structured according to the day-to-day practice of the profession, and highlights the mistakes made by the pilot unit in the form of “pitfalls to avoid”.

Relationships based on openness

This community of spirit between franchisees must be established as soon as you are a candidate for integration into a network, and you have mutually satisfied the first exchanges and the visit to the head office. With the franchisor’s approval, you can talk to certain franchisees, or even visit their outlets. Or contact them directly, knowing that they may legitimately consider you to be a competitor posing as a candidate.

Their opinions are not necessarily positive, and certainly not “honeyed”. The discussion is generally frank… and sometimes hostile, if the incumbent franchisee is afraid of seeing a neighbor arrive in the previously unoccupied exclusive zone that he was still allowed to prospect.

These conversations, not necessarily secret, will give you a good idea of the franchisor’s support, the atmosphere within the network and the reality of the know-how passed on if you interview several of them.

Group events

Once you’ve joined the company, you’ll have the opportunity to network with your peers at group events (initial and ongoing training courses, regional events, annual national convention): it’s easier to talk to each other when you can put a face to a voice! For example, this is the time to talk to well-known franchisees in the network about their favourite subject(s): sales, recruitment, management, business development…

Business isn’t just business

Whatever your new job, there’s nothing like experiencing it in practice. Apart from the obligatory stages(discovery or immersion course), any new franchisee, provided he or she gets on well with another colleague, can perfect his or her technical skills in his or her company, or even allow his or her staff to spend a few days with the neighbor in the same geographical area (in general).

Better still, another franchisee, with whom you have formed a partnership, can provide temporary replacements in your catchment area, or even long-term replacements in the event of a prolonged absence, or temporarily provide staff. You can also decide to pool your resources at a local level, as in the case of a communication campaign in the regional press.

Last but not least, business transfers between franchisees in commercial activities (not dependent on a store) are not to be overlooked: technical services for which we do not have the skills or even the regulatory certifications, national corporate customers working in several regions, etc.

Franchisor bodies: defending together for the good of all

Franchisors are quick to set up working committees, i.e. a forum for discussion with franchisees on operational or technical issues: communication, logistics, marketing, development of know-how, IT, products, purchasing, human resources…

With over sixty units in its network, it has more often than not set up a “Conseil des Sages” (council or advisory committee), this time designed to discuss strategic issues with elected franchisees, going beyond the purely technical framework of the brand’s business. This can go as far as mediating with franchisees, with a role of arbitration and regulation within the network.

In both cases, it’s essential for franchisees to gather ideas from their peers, then group them by theme and compare them with those of the franchisor, who has already given the matter some thought.

A vision shared by the network will carry more weight, because the franchisor has always been well prepared in arguing his solution. These forums remain an opportunity to address the real issues in the field and to support practice-based suggestions. The franchisor, who is no longer permanently in front of the end customer, and his team, whose thoughts are not totally free, are not always aware of the potential effectiveness of actions not filtered by individual animation.

Local informal franchisee clubs

By being able to talk freely with someone in the same business, without being a competitor, about the same issues, business leaders in a network naturally forge links with each other… right up to convivial meetings, formalized in certain regions, ranging from a simple dinner to the integration of an activity.

These moments of sharing, requiring a minimum of organization and animation, make it possible to combine professional and personal lives. They provide an opportunity to exchange tips and tricks of the trade (recommendations on the use of a tool, benchmark cost tips for a particular service, etc.), to share successes and failures alike, to induct newcomers locally, and even to pass on suggestions to the brand with a single voice. Sometimes, after discussions on themes planned in advance.

This positive interactivity continues, outside of these special events, through various communication channels such as WhatsApp groups, to ask for a solution to a complex situation or one too trivial to call the franchisor’s team… or more trivially, to send each other good jokes!

These professional relationships between franchisees, which can lead to great friendships, are just as important in painful situations as they are on a day-to-day basis, to keep each other’s spirits up. Always remember to grow them.

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