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How do you keep franchisees happy?

Image of Debbie Williams
Debbie Williams

One of the biggest keys to success for any franchise brand is bringing on the right franchisees and maintaining committed, happy, and engaged franchisees who are committed to and aligned with brand goals.

With over 780,000 franchises in the U.S., accounting for more than 10% of all business in the country, that’s a lot of people having a big impact on our economy.

It sounds simple, right?  If someone invests their time and money into running a franchise, it will be easy to keep them happy and aligned with the brand. 

A franchisor-franchisee relationship is not set it and forget it. Maintaining positive relationships with franchisees requires a plan of action that is carried through consistently. This proactive plan will help ensure they are happy and unified with the brand strategy, which keeps the entire franchise system strong and productive. 

At the 2021 Fast Casual Restaurant Franchising & Innovation Summit in Charlotte, several franchise executives shared insights on how to keep franchisee partners happy. While the panel agreed on many things,  a top point they all agreed on was that happy franchisees are those that make money and grow. So it’s critical to give franchisees what makes them happy.

Focus on the Human Relationship

Franchisees need to feel a meaningful connection to the brand and company culture in order to replicate that in their establishment(s). There's a trickle-down effect that starts with the franchisee and reaches their whole local team. When the whole team feels this way it’s one of the most beneficial aspects you can develop for your business.

Jim Thompson, vice president of operations at Chicken Salad Chick spoke on the Fast Casual panel and shared that the "relationship" starts in the franchise sales process as the franchise development team establishes the relationship.

"Once we're in a new restaurant opening process, about 10 weeks out from store opening, they have access to shared information and a project manager is having a weekly call with (the) franchisee and then business consultants get involved six weeks out to make sure the people components are being done," he said.

Keep Communication Open Both Ways. 

At Chicken Salad Chick, franchisees want strong communication from the brand and with fellow franchisees to share best practices with each other. 

Thompson said that in some cases franchisees are communicating on their own and using group chats. The brand does a monthly call with top leadership to share what's going on across the business. 

At the event, John Ramsay, vice president of franchise sales at Noodles & Company said that communication is a key factor in their franchisee happiness. 

"We are doing intra-franchisee communication. We use a methodology of collecting the communication and putting it out there and it's all discussed. Ultimately the good ideas bubble up," he said.

Leverage technology to streamline processes. 

From in-house POS and instant data sharing systems to franchise marketing platforms, having unified technology for all locations creates a symbiotic relationship between franchisees and the brand.  It ensures that processes and information are consistent across locations and that everyone has the same access to local data and marketing opportunities. 

Building technology partners into franchise agreements is something many brands are doing.  Brian Dixon, director of real estate at Team Oney, a Papa John's, Starbucks, and Qdoba franchisee, said that they use Leasecake to send out lease information to franchisees at the same time the brand receives it, which has eliminated the need for Excel and paper documents and fragmented communication. 

Technology enables franchise brands to have frictionless processes, communication, and marketing.  

Communication, relationships, trust, and consistency are some of the most important aspects to ensuring happy franchisees - ultimately, creating a stronger and more profitable brand. 

For even more franchise marketing tips, follow us on LinkedIn. 



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