Among the best ways to keep franchisees from changing or competing with your brand is to have an ever-evolving brand that creates financial opportunity for the franchisee. Another great technique is to set up “Franchise Advisory Council” so franchisees are made to feel that their opinions, input and feedback matters to the success of not only their individual unit but also the brand as a whole.
Why Franchisees Go “Rogue” and What to Do About It
How to prevent a problem from occurring in the first place.
By Gary Occhiogrosso – Managing Partner, Franchise Growth Solutions, LLC.
One of the problems facing franchisors is when franchisees choose to go “rogue” by changing how they run the system or they take proprietary knowledge to compete with the brand. There are famous cases where slight changes to a name, but similar advertising and business models landed franchisees in court. One that stands out is Mister Softee, Inc. vs. Tsirkos in 2014. The franchisee copied the ice cream brand’s trucks and even operated under the name Master Softee. Needless to say the “real” Mr. Softee won out in that case. However, time, energy and money were spent on something that may have been avoided in the first. Why do franchisees make these decisions? Sometime its just in their nature or personality to take a position of “knowing better or more” than the franchisor. Although many times it’s because the franchisor is not living up to the franchisee’s expectations or worse yet, offing little in the way of field support, innovation and/or ongoing education designed to help the franchisee drive sales into their establishment. As a result a franchisee may sometimes feel abandoned and then goes into “Survival Mode”.
Ways to Keep Franchisees from Competing with Franchisors
Among the best ways to keep franchisees from changing or competing with your brand is to have an ever-evolving brand that creates financial opportunity for the franchisee. Another great technique is to set up Franchise Advisory Council so franchisees are made to feel that their opinions, input and feedback matters to the success of not only their individual unit but also the brand as a whole.
Of course how the franchisor communicates with its franchisees is a key component to success. It’s not enough to issue reports and statements concerning policy changes and procedural updates. You’ve got to meet face-to-face and make the franchisees part of the discussion. Field visits are integral in developing strong report with the individual franchise owner. An open, transparent approach to issues facing franchisee can make all the difference in the world. This approach will surely help when a franchisee is contemplating reinventing the wheel or leaving the system all together.
When issues of operational compliance do come into play (and they will eventually) you’ll need to demonstrate why following the system is the way to success. Franchisors should be confident they are making legitimate requests of the franchisee by making sure all the franchisor’s processes have been fully tested and proven to be successful. If this is the case, then in my experience, even the most difficult franchisees will have reason to follow suit although they may be reluctant to do so at first. It’s also import to keep an open mind and listen to the franchisee. When franchisees feel they are “heard” they are far less likely to go rogue. Critiquing does a lot but encouragement does a lot more. Creating a culture of open communication will go miles in preventing rogue franchisees.
What Protections are in Place for Franchisors?
Spending time to coach, counsel, correct and encourage franchisees does not mean the franchisor should ever give up their rights and remedies under their franchise agreement. And when a rouge franchisee is damaging the brand or the system or both and if a resolution cannot be reached then unfortunately the only choice is to terminate the relationship. Your franchise agreement should clearly state the terms and conditions for termination. That said, following one basic principle of communication and transparency should prevent this from happening. However if a franchisee does go rogue, then swift and decisive action must be taken to protect your intellectual property and your other franchisees.
Avoiding rogue franchisees requires skill, work and constant improvement on the part of the franchisor. The lines of communication between franchisors and franchisees must remain open and clear. Setting expectations early in the approval process and onboarding is key. Expectations must be spelled out clearly from the beginning. All these small steps, when combined and practiced regularly will help to prevent rogue franchisees.
About the Author:
Gary Occhiogrosso is the Managing Partner of Franchise Growth Solutions, which is a co-operative based franchise development and sales firm.
Their “Coach, Mentor & Grow Program” focuses on helping Franchisors with their franchise development, strategic planning, advertising, selling franchises and guiding franchisors in raising growth capital.
Gary started his career in franchising as a franchisee of Dunkin Donuts before launching the Ranch *1 Franchise program with it’s founders. He is the former President of TRUFOODS, LLC a 100+ unit, multi brand franchisor and former COO of Desert Moon Fresh Mexican Grille. He advises several emerging and growth brands in the franchise industry
Gary was selected as “Top 25 Fast Casual Restaurant Executive in the USA” by Fast Casual Magazine and named “Top 50 CXO’s” by SmartCEO Magazine. In addition Gary is an adjunct instructor at New York University on the topics of Restaurant Concept & Business Development as well Entrepreneurship. He has published numerous articles on the topics of Franchising, Entrepreneurship, Sales and Marketing. He is also the host of the “Small Business & Franchise Show” broadcast over AM970 in New York City and the founder of FranchiseMoneyMaker.com