How to Motivate Your Franchisees: 5 Problems You Might Be Facing – And Their Solutions

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Any number of problems can arise as a franchisor-franchisee relationship develops. Let's take a look at some suggested solutions for some of the most common problems relating to franchisee motivation:

Problem 1: Initial franchisee-franchisor sours after initial agreement

At the start of any new business venture, especially a franchise agreement, both sides will be keen to make a success of the undertaking. This means both will be highly committed and engaged, and be prepared to work hard to make the new franchise location a successful one.

Like most things however, the gloss can soon wear off...

This can be because of the franchisee being dissatisfied with the initial returns, or the franchisor being dissatisfied with the franchisee's failure to become an effective part of their network.

Solution: Retrain franchisee in network systems, critique systems for efficiency

To solve the problem, we need to think about likely reasons for the situation developing: Clearly for this franchisee, the system you've spent so hard developing as a franchisor isn't working. Why is this?

1. It could be either the fault of the franchisee, in which case they'll need to be retrained in how to get the best out of the system.

2. On the other hand, if the problem is that the system itself is either not suitable for their market or has a previously undiagnosed error, then the system should be altered.

Problem 2: Franchisee will not follow the system

Some franchisees either recently were, or see themselves as, independent entrepreneurs - despite having bought into your franchise system.

These types of franchisees show considerable resistance to doing things the way that your system outlines. They're convinced that they have a better way to do things, and they're going to stick to it.

Solution: Adopt positive visualisation techniques

Strangely, recent studies have shown that the more a franchisee who is reluctant to properly adopt the system has their feelings of self-worth improved, the more they will be able to enter the mental space that adopting the system requires them to be in.

Simply put?

You need to build up their sense of their own dignity so that they're confident and malleable enough to accept the system.

One of the simplest parts of these so-called "positive visualisation techniques" would be group learning, putting reluctant franchisees in the same group as your highest achieving and most innovative franchisees.

To do this, the franchisor typically publically draws attention to the changes and solutions that have been suggested by the most successful franchisees within the system. These successful franchisees are then held up as the ideal.

Then, by putting the most reluctant and the most successful adopters together in a group, neuroscientific thinking suggests that the reluctant adopters will become less defensive about losing what they see as their independence.

By being placed in a group with the highest-rated franchisees, whom they know are publically lauded in your network, they feel they are being treated as well as they possibly can be.

Systems that rely on harsh penalties for non-compliance tend to work less well in these cases, as these systems can lead to increased resistance and entrenchment of position on the part of reluctant adopters.

Problem 3: Day-to-day pressure on franchisee begins to erode performance and drive for improvement

Because of the daily pressures on a franchisee, it's highly possible that they become bogged down in running their business on a minute-to-minute basis - and thus focus less on improvement.

Solution: Initial and ongoing training should feature short, personalised, group learning activities

The situation above tends to appear when a franchisee has failed to properly learn the ins and outs of your system. Your system should work well enough that if it is implemented effectively, this situation simply shouldn't commonly occur.

This can be a failure on the part of the franchisee, but it can also be a failure of training methodology.

Your training methods should emphasise the practical experiences which have led to the development of the franchise system, and how successful franchisees have used the system to become a success.

This generally means you will need:

  • Weekly learning sessions spanning anywhere from three to six months of the franchisee's initial time with you.
  • A group learning environment featuring high-performing franchisees.
  • A "curriculum" which focuses on short, practical lessons which should be no more than an hour long.
  • Information, analysis, application, and reflection portions in every lesson.
  • Discussion between franchisees of their particular experiences using the system as related to the specific topic this week.

Problem 4: Franchise system has expanded to the point where confirming individual franchisee engagement is difficult

When you're first starting out, many systems you use aren't yet formalised. They happen as and when they need to happen, and because there are relatively few people and franchise locations involved, this isn't usually a problem.

However, as your network grows things soon start to become unmanageable given your original systems. This is usually resolved by formalising these systems and improving them.

But it can be a more difficult problem to surmount when ensuring that all franchisees are properly engaged with the system itself.

Solution: Utilise technology to bring your network together

Huge advances in modern technology mean that no matter the size of your network, you can put systems in place which keep everyone on the same page.

Systems like a franchise intranet should be an intrinsic part of your initial training, your ongoing group coaching (see Problem 3), and become a data source of both your franchise system's guidelines and best practice examples, as well as each franchisee's personal learning - records of which they should be encouraged to keep.

The intranet has the major advantage that it offers a place where you can oversee each franchisee's efforts without necessarily appearing to look over their shoulder.

Franchisees can see the approaches, successes, and lessons learned by other franchisees if given relevant permissions. This will become both an ideal group learning environment, and a great development space for on-brand innovation.

Problem 5: Franchisee achieved great success using system, but growth has since slowed

This is different to Problem 3 in that the franchisee has already shown that they can engage with and use the system highly effectively - so much so that they have in fact achieved significant success.

Now however, circumstances appear to have changed. Though their success could still be rated as "good", they have stopped the steady growth that characterised their previous development.

Solution: Provide proven "advanced" or "good to great" systems for successful franchisees

Again, assessment of the often unique circumstances that each individual franchisee faces is required. Most often though, the problem is a true lack of motivation:

In this case, the franchisee has become more successful than they'd planned to be, and are happy with their level of attainment. They have little motivation to proceed past a way of doing things that is clearly working for them up to a point, even if faced by a gradual diminishment of their growth, or a change in their market.

The solution of course, is to convince and demonstrate to the franchisee in question that other franchisees in your network have already experienced this situation, and that your system can provide the model needed for further growth to take place as easily it did initial growth.

The franchisee, having already achieved success with the initial system, will be far more inclined to follow your next system (as long as it actually does what it's designed to do, of course). This is true whether it includes system automation or other internal improvement, or altering the strategies the franchisee should use when selling to their now-changed local market.

By starting the new "good to great" or "advanced" system and having their franchisor discuss the system with them in the correct fashion, the franchisee will feel a renewed sense of the mission that saw them become so successful in the first place.

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