When it comes to franchise networks, it is a well-known fact that implementing change can be a tough job. A lot of the problems stem purely from the logistical difficulties faced on both the franchisor and franchisee sides of the business that come with implementing any changes, but another important element is the networks willingness to embrace it.

Whether it be a re-branding activity, a move to a new system or procedure, or the introduction of a new product that requires buying equipment or stock, the process of making change within a franchise business is often met with resistance. Franchisors see that change is necessary and key to a businesses survival and success, however it is often the way they go about implementing such changes that ruffles feathers within the network.

When planning a change to be rolled out across a franchise network, it is vital that each and every franchisee is able to understand the reason behind the decision. Taking on a ‘because we said so’ attitude will be met with resistance everytime, and if franchisors can’t make their case as to how the change will be beneficial to the franchisees business, it will just be seen as an inconvenience.

Conducting a cost versus benefits analysis to detail the impact of the change is a great selling point when it comes to getting franchisees on board, especially if the business owner will be incurring a significant expense. It is important to consider that despite being part of a larger franchise network, many franchise owners likely have a plan in mind for how they see their business growing. Asking them to get on board with an unexpected change may be a strain and misalign with their current plans for themselves and the business, particularly if it effects their time or financial commitments.

Another point that gets raised often when discussing the topic of change within franchise networks, is that franchisors should lead by example. Implementing changes in corporate run stores, or with a select group of eager franchisees is a great strategy to actively show the rest of the partners why the change is needed. This strategy can act as a trial period to eliminate any issues before a network wide roll out, and if all goes well will leave you with a group of franchisees to act as positive ambassadors for the change.

This is the first step towards a collaborative approach that gets all parties involved in the decision making process. Opening the proposed change up to recommendations, questions and comments can help air any grievances and answer any burning questions. Embracing some form of collaborative change process often leaves everyone feeling more settled and open when the time comes. Having been involved from the start removes any element of surprise, and gives the network time to have input.

However, franchisors shouldn’t wait until they want to make a big change, to prepare their franchisees. In any franchise group it is vital that willingness to embrace change is encouraged and embedded in the company culture. This starts with the type of prospects that are recruited into the business and is maintained through building a positive association with change and a high level of trust between the franchisor and franchisees.

When dealing with any large network of franchise partners a unanimous decision is unlikely. But taking these steps to foster a company culture that sees change positively and actively following a collaborative process will make all the difference next time your franchise network faces change.

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