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Effective Communications in a Franchise Environment

When a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it…trust me, there is no sound.

How do I know that?  Simple, during my career in the franchise business my experience has demonstrated that when material gets sent to the franchisees from the franchisor and isn’t widely read (or seen or heard), then nothing happens...no sound.

Sure, the information got sent and management is confident that every franchisee is waiting with baited breath for the latest direction or idea or operational imperative. But, in the heat of the everyday business battle, assuming that the information is read – let alone absorbed – by the majority of your systems constituents, is a fool’s errand.

If nothing else, the franchise business is a communications business.  There are two reasons.  First, there is not much in the way of consequences for a franchisee ignoring, not paying attention to, or simply not getting the direction. And, second, if the communication is not received and implemented everywhere, then the brand is not running on all eight cylinders.

So, ask yourself this, “Do your internal communications have a marketing plan?”

Yes that sounds redundant, or worse, corporate speak, but nothing you do is more important.  If you haven’t thought about it you are missing a big opportunity to create more effectiveness in the things you are doing – without doing more things. Like any marketing plan a strategy, is necessary. Three key strategies will help guide the process of building your Communications Plan.

Choose Five Channels

If you have not used five channels to communicate your message, then you haven’t fully communicated. Channels vary and can include:

Regular communications platforms (i.e., monthly newsletters or podcasts)

  • Direct emails
  • Videos
  • Conference calls
  • Webinars
  • One-on-one communications
  • System wide or regional meetings
  • Step-down training
  • Meeting minutes

There is nothing magic about the number five but insisting on a fixed number of multiple communications channels ensures that you are reaching every constituent through their preferred (most comfortable) method of learning. And, everybody retains information better if they are exposed to it more than once.

Minimize Frequency to Maximize Impact

Other than one “regular communications platform” like a newsletter or podcast, keep franchise system-wide communications to a minimum frequency.  Get control, if you don’t have it already, of the “send” key for system communication lists.  You can’t distinguish important from unimportant if anybody can email everybody.

Don’t allow anybody to get a copy of your contact lists that doesn’t absolutely need it. And, don’t allow anybody to print it out. As fast as things change today, once a hard copy is printed, it’s obsolete.

Big Ideas Require Bigger Channels

The bigger the program, the bigger the communications stage. Use a system-wide webinar or internal video to kick off bigger programs or ideas, and then follow up with your other four channels of communications.

Don’t be afraid of outside the box ideas to capture the attention, if not the imagination, of your audience. With reliable overnight shipping you can send just about anything, anywhere, to arrive on the same day and about the same time.  Use your creative instincts. The list of communications channels above is by no means complete.

Work on the strategies that make the most sense for your franchise business and communications needs. Then stick to them and execute your Communications Plan with as much thought and effort as you would your Marketing Plan.

Effective and timely communications is a business imperative in any business but it is exponentially more important in a franchise environment.  Think of communications as a competitive advantage for you, if your good at it, and for your competitor if your not.

Bob McDevitt, Senior VP of Franchise Development, Golden Corral can be reached at bmcdevitt@GoldenCorral.net

To learn more about unique and exciting franchise opportunities, visit BeTheBoss.com.

Bob McDevitt CFE,Senior Vice President, Franchise Development
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