The Importance of Early Establishment of An Independent Franchisee Association
It has been an unfortunate aspect of independent franchisee associations that they only get established in the face of perceived impending calamity.
In that mode, what precedes the establishment of the association is a period of conflict between the franchisee community and franchisor management. The “air” is filled with invective for a substantial period of time, and animosity is the mood and the ambience. That is absolutely the worst way to go about franchisees providing a really effective positive group force useful to enhance living with a franchisor. But everyone does it that way.
The lesson of this article is to teach the importance of early on establishment of an independent franchisee controlled franchisee association as a vehicle to promote cooperative positive interaction with a franchisor that, because all franchise contracts are very one sided, probably believes that he has no reason or obligation to consider any view but his own on any subject whatsoever.
Without the early onset establishment of this kind of association, the deus ex machina attitude of almost any franchisor has no resistance to its entrenchment. There is no unified moderating voice that is competently advised and focused on only important issues and positions that, ignored, may often become pernicious.
It is also much less expensive to establish a franchisee association early on, before serious problems infest the relationships. When there are no great emergencies that require mountains of hurried work, the available association resources can be put to use building the membership base and developing approaches to the positive management of what needs to be managed. When budgets don’t need to be consumed in rushed confrontational projects, a more rational and reasonable approach to every arising issue is facilitated at much less expense.
In every franchisee community there arises a natural leadership group. If these leading franchisees put up the seed money and retain competent, effective professional guidance, the message that goes out to the franchisee community about what the association is about and why it is so important for all to be participating members is more likely to receive more favorable support. At this juncture, ridiculous promises about litigation not being the purpose of the association – always ill advised, no matter what – don’t have to be made hoping to reassure apprehensive franchisees against a dangerous agenda. When the right message is configured, focused and positive, the association has a far better chance to attract widespread support.
That support won’t happen overnight, and it will probably be necessary for the leadership group to provide the financial support to keep it going for about two years. Ten leaders putting up $ 5,000 a piece for two years is a reasonable magnitude of commitment. By that time the effective message to the franchise community at large will take up the strain, and an organization will become alive because of the constructive projects and programs it can then initiate.
Properly started before emergencies arise, it soon becomes something that franchisees in general perceive they cannot afford to be left out of.
As the franchisor perceives a continued positive and constructive agenda, the modus vivendi of their coexistence becomes more reliable. Mutual respect for the needs of each interest group, franchisees and franchisor management, has a burgeoning impact upon the quality of life unless one party is simply out of touch. The out of touch mentality is far less likely to arise when the association is begun very early on and sends constructive messages.
The cynical amongst you will call this all Pollyanna nonsense and ignore this advice. They have no faith in the willingness of the group to participate and pay dues and end up with the eventual need to deal with emergency situations for which there has been no preparation. To them I say, Good luck. But the reactions will never change if the stimuli never change. Think about that before you write this notion off.
How the franchisee community goes about identifying and evaluating which issues to address, and how the issues should be addressed are the two most highly mismanaged things that franchisees do as a group. That need not go down that way. Betting on the wrong horse always ends badly. Many large groups of historically well performing franchised businesses go awry violating that particular principle, largely because they believe that their operational success has made them prescient concerning the management of difficult franchising issues. Most often that is not the case, and their ill advised decisions make matters worse and much more expensive to address. Why do that to yourself?
Franchise systems in which deficient relationship management is the rule do not produce long term success. Much can be accomplished by stark aggression over time on a huge budget. Much more can be accomplished by doing this in the manner I am suggesting.