ALL IN THE FAMILY: ESTABLISHING A VISION FOR A FRANCHISE BRAND
When it comes to keeping franchisees in tune with broader vision of a brand, it’s a family matter.
Before becoming a franchisor, I was a franchisee. Given my background, I know from first-hand experience the importance of creating that franchise family atmosphere for your franchisees.
I’m also a father and a husband. My wife and I have worked side by side to build our business into an international franchise network. Therefore, I know about family dynamics, which can be applied to a business, too.
People need guidance when they are new to any endeavor. If you have children and let them do whatever they want, they may acquire some bad habits if they aren’t guided through the learning period. The same is true in the franchise world. When franchisees join a brand, they’re excited about starting a business. However, if you’re not there for them every step of the way, guiding them on how to use your system and do it the right way, they will pick up bad habits.
Between social media, news, competition, and customer word of mouth, sometimes they feel as if they should change systems and routine practices, not focusing on the brand’s goal to stay consistent. Within the first six months each franchisee is learning how to be experts at our brand and all it entails; therefore, we make sure that their primary focus is on just that.
However, after they have passed the opening phase and begin making more money, their mindset can begin to change. They’ve seen what they’ve done over the first year. They’ve been profitable but didn’t make it to the top. By the second year, when they’ve got the tools to succeed and the foundation of running their business ingrained, your relationship will be stronger.
The best franchise brands put their primary focus on the onboarding process. Throughout the first year, you’re really overprotective of your children – your franchisees – because they really need you and your guidance. Even if they aren’t calling you, they are in constant need of training and support from you. That’s why we focus that period of time on checking in, constantly. If you have given them positive momentum and reinforcement, it’s less likely for them to go down a rogue path. That’s the first step.
After they are integrated into the brand, it’s crucial that we continually communicate and offer great value, because that’s why they bought a franchise — to grow into a great system that provides them with a blueprint to run their business by. But even then, that only gets them through the first period where they are learning and executing your business model.
Franchisees want to hear from the franchisor, whether they vocalize it or not. They are interested in knowing all the inspiring things that you handle in the background. I know from first hand experience that if you’re not doing anything for them, they’ll notice. If you’re not communicating with them at least every quarter, they begin to wonder “What are they doing for me?” Even if you know they are receiving value, it’s important you show and demonstrate that value. If you’re in a relationship, you’re not going to stay together if you don’t communicate with your partner. The stronger the relationship you have, the more they’ll know they can trust and count on you – and grow! If you have a good culture, they’ll understand you and know your heart is there with them. Belonging to a franchise is a choice. You don’t know what real-life adjustments your franchisees are having to make. If you support them in a tough time, they’ll appreciate and remember it.
My goal as a franchisor is to continually stay in touch with our franchisees and provide them support. We make sure to communicate as frequently as possible — at least every week — whether it’s through email, online forums, Facebook groups, videos or monthly newsletters. In addition to continual communication, we also make sure to update franchisees with any and all announcements: how many franchises we awarded, all the store openings that have happened, all the new vendors we’ve signed on, and all the great deals we’ve signed for products. A simple act of letting location owners know how many new franchise locations have sold can be inspiring for them.
I’ve had people call me and say, “Man, you guys are pros! I better buy another location before it gets sold.” Given my background as a franchisee, I knew that when a new store opened up and it was successful, it was time to get my act together. A little friendly competition is healthy. At the end of the day, it’s all about our franchise family. We promote a family culture. If you give your franchisees proper attention and bring them up right, they’re going to do well. At Tint World, my personal goal is to make sure that every single one of my franchise locations joins the $1 million club. It’s something that I’m passionate about and make known to my franchisees. It shows the value of the system, the value of the brand, and reassures them that they are truly important to us.
When you take these steps as a franchisor and show you have their interest at heart, it’ll be really hard for your franchisees to not think highly of you and the brand. Celebrate their wins and focus on their success, and everyone will benefit from the reward together.
Charles Bonfiglio is president and CEO of Tint World®, an award-winning franchised provider of automotive, residential, commercial and marine window tinting and security film services. With Automotive Styling Centers™ in the U.S. and abroad, each franchise location houses approximately 20 profit centers, ranging from instore accessory installations, to off-site sales and installation of residential, commercial and marine window tinting and security films. To find out more, please visit www.tintworld.com and www.tintworldfranchise.com.