Owning a fitness franchise location (like Anytime Fitness, Snap Fitness, Orangetheory, Cycle Bar, Retro Fitness) is a bit different than owning a fitness facility or gym outright. Franchisees must interact with the franchisor on a fairly regular basis. Furthermore, franchisees must adhere to nuanced rules and standards established by the franchisor. This relationship has the potential to sour as time progresses. It is important for both groups to proactively attempt to nurture a mutually beneficial relationship. Here are some tips that will help maintain such a civil and successful relationship across the long haul.
1. Promote Trust by Keeping the Lines of Communication Open
Crystal clear communication is essential to the success of the individual business as well as the brand. Franchisees and the franchisor should interact on a regular basis to share ideas, discuss best practices and maintain a meaningful dialogue. The franchisor should transmit information to all franchisees through numerous channels ranging from daily bulletins to regional meetings, web portals, newsletters and beyond.
Franchisees should be provided with the opportunity to give feedback through channels like feedback forms, dedicated call lines and even direct access to those who have the power to make decisions that affect all of the franchise locations. It is important for the franchisor to listen closely to each franchise owner's concerns, complaints, and insights. After all, franchisees are the ones who are out in the field using the systems and products that make money. Their feedback is essential to the success of the overarching brand.
2. Meet Obligations
Both parties must live up to their obligations. As an example, the franchisor is responsible for implementing changes across the board in terms of tech additions, system improvements and new product and/or service offerings. The franchisor must provide every franchisee with the materials, systems, and trainings necessary to succeed. Regular evaluations of franchisee locations must be conducted to guarantee standards are met. Franchisees are responsible for hiring staff, determining employee pay rates, adhering to system and operational standards, adding to franchisor marketing with local ads, reporting sales and honoring service/product promotions. If either party fails to live up to their respective obligations, trust will deteriorate and the relationship will prove combustible.
3. A Genuine Understanding of one Another
Both parties must have a thorough understanding of one another's goals, perspectives, background, etc. A genuine understanding of the other party helps each understand why certain actions are necessary. It also promotes respect. Franchisees and the franchisor must strive to understand business-related matters outside of their own subjective perspective.
Both parties must not lose sight of the fact that asking questions is fundamental to understanding the other side's position. A steady stream of questions should be encouraged to promote heightened awareness. Research is especially important at the outset of the relationship as it reveals important information that shapes the outcome of the partnership.
4. Success is Dependent on the Right Tools
Franchisees are paying to tap into the power of a proven business model. These individuals require the right tools to get the job done and replicate the franchise model in their locale. The timely and through delivery of operating systems, training programs, training manuals, equipment and marketing materials is essential to each location's success as well as the brand's success.
The old adage of a craftsman only being as good as his tools certainly applies here. A franchisee has little chance to succeed unless he is provided with the exact same equipment and information as other franchisees in a timely manner. Otherwise, it won't matter if the franchisee has a strong work ethic and extensive business experience. He needs the proper tools to get the job done right and on time. It is up to the franchisor to provide him with these materials.
5. A Willingness to Change
We live in quite the dynamic world. Things are constantly changing. If a franchise becomes static and does not adjust with the times, its policies can suffocate franchisees. What worked a decade or two ago might not work today or a year from now. Though it is important for franchisees to commit to the overarching brand and let the system prove its worth, requests for updates and alterations should be entertained by both parties. After all, everything from laws to target demographics is subject to change.
If the business does not keep pace with such alterations, the bottom line will be negatively impacted. However, franchisees have limited flexibility to implement changes. Alterations to the business model come from the top. This is precisely why the franchisor must listen closely to franchisee suggestions for improvements, changes, updates and other requests. There is a good chance the troubles and concerns faced by one franchisee also affect other franchisees. The best franchisors are willing to consider these challenges, make the appropriate adjustments and allow the business model to evolve as time progresses.