Two-way communication helps all parties in successful franchise. Lessons from Undercover Boss Australia Part 3

The third installment of Undercover Boss Australia saw Janine Allis, founder and head of Boost Juice head into her franchise network to see the operation up close.

A master brand is the key asset of any successful franchise.  Allis’ enthusiasm for the brand was clear. The employees and franchisees selected for inclusion on UBA represented a commitment to the healthy and youthful spirit of the brands – they generally seemed to be loving life.

For franchisees, there is a challenge in balancing being a small business owner at the same time as being part of a larger organisation.  Tina and Steve Wood, Boost store owners from Perth named hiring the right staff as one important factor in turning around the profitability of their store and increasing sales.

Franchises frequently rely on young, casual and part-time labour and as a result can struggle to retain employees. Brand strength is an important factor in being able to create an employee experience that can engage a young, mobile, award-wage workforce. Supporting the employment brand with access to development programs, networking opportunities between territories and the ability to move geographically can increase retention and commitment of employees.

MD Allis demonstrated considerable empathy towards individual franchisees and their employees in her interactions undercover.  However, not every franchise business experiences such open two way communication.

A comprehensive study of conflict resolution between franchisees and franchisors released by Griffith University earlier this year found that communication is an area many franchisees feel could be improved.

Professor Lorelle Frazer, lead researcher and Director of the Asia-Pacific Centre for Franchising Excellence revealed that only half of the study participants felt communication from franchisors was timely and accurate.

There is a risk for both parties when communication breaks down.  For the franchisor there is a risk to the brand and reputation. Franchising provides a centralised approach to marketing, advertising, product and promotion that creates a consistent quality experience across a dispersed workforce. Failing to communicate this to the franchise network will lead to erosion of the brand value.  There is reduced opportunity for collaborative innovation (ideas from the front line), and ultimately reduced profit.

For franchisees, there is a risk to their business if they do not have all the information a business owner needs. A lack of competitor or territory information, lack of shared information between other franchisees, and unmet expectations of support can hamstring a franchise from planning for and achieving growth.

Where a franchisee is unclear about the programs and support available, there is even less chance that this information will be made available to the face of the brand – the person making your smoothie.