Name: Iftikhar Hussain Location: Edinburgh...
The term ‘communication’ is defined as the imparting or exchanging of information or news, and as such should always be considered as a two-way opportunity both within your franchise network and to the external audience of prospective franchisees and end-user customers.
In today’s world, the phrase ‘open communication’ can encompass a range of channels, offering an abundant audience. Whether you actively engage with these channels or not, you should be aware of their presence and their ability to allow communication between others:
People like to be communicated with in different ways – it’s a balance of socio-economic factors and the level of urgency or interest involved. For example, one of the Coconut team recently purchased some clothing online. When the items were delivered, one was faulty and none were the correct size. Upon seeking assistance from the customer service team, she found that the only way to communicate with the company was via email or post. This could be somewhat restrictive under a 14-day returns policy.
For the level of urgency and nature of the query, a simple phone call would have sufficed – not least to provide reassurance by speaking with someone directly. Being forced to follow the online-only communication channel, the issue is still unresolved after almost two weeks of slow emailing with little consistency. This unfortunately, is a typical example of when communication can go wrong, and subsequently mar the experience of the end-user.
If we consider this story from the perspective of a prospective franchisee who is seeking information about your franchise, the level of urgency and interest suddenly changes. Prospects may only be interested for a short period of time, as they will undoubtedly be considering other avenues and communicating with other franchisors. This heightens the competition in which you operate, especially if other companies are able to cover a wider range of channels than yourselves.
The formula is simple… consistency + clarity = quality communication – competition
By ensuring you are delivering the same message throughout your franchise, whether it is through a dedicated recruitment team or existing franchisees, you will find that any confusion is greatly reduced. By also providing clarity of meaning to prospects, you provide easier understanding and more accessible information that will naturally draw them into you. There will always be some amount of competition within your given industry as well as external factors outside your control, but by maintaining consistency and clarity, you can reduce this competition with a unified company voice.
As your existing franchisees are often a great source of insight and information for prospective leads, we strongly recommend that you include them within communications for your recruitment process. Generating case studies is a particularly good way to deliver the company message through the voice of your franchisees, with stories about their personal experiences and successes. It is best practice to allow the given franchisee final approval of the completed case study, to check they are happy with the content.
Existing franchisees can also be utilised at discovery days and exhibitions, offering face-to-face contact. As people who have already bought into your franchise, franchisees are excellent brand advocates. We advise that you maintain communication with them about recruitment, marketing and operational activities as a norm, because this will provide you with up-to-date knowledge from the frontline, and also allow you to monitor network satisfaction through regular feedback.
Above all, remember that communication in any form is an extension of your branding. The information you put out should represent your franchise in a way that means people want to be associated with you, by joining your franchise network. In a world of constantly evolving communication methods, you cannot afford to be left standing at the fax machine whilst your competitor runs past in a flurry of tweets.