8 Tips for Managing a Franchise Network

Temps de lecture : 7 mn
Emmanuelle Abensur
Emmanuelle Abensur
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Temps de lecture : 7 minutes

McDonald’s, Planet Fitness, 7-Eleven, Best Western Hotels… all these brands have something in common: they’re franchises. In the United States today, there are more than 800,000 franchised stores in all sectors (restaurants, hotels, supermarkets, real estate, etc.). This system is particularly popular with independent retailers (franchisees), as it enables them to use the name of a third-party brand (the franchisor) and market its products and/or services in order to expand. 

However, as the number of franchisees grows, the question arises: how do you facilitate, engage and unite the members of the franchise network? This work is essential, because it’s what’s going to develop the sense of belonging to the network and encourage knowledge sharing among members. But how do you even go about that? And what tools should you use?

If these questions are on your mind, not to fear! In this article, we’ll reveal the 8 best practices for managing a franchise network. 😉

1. Get to know your franchisees 

The first thing to do is to get to know your network’s members. This enables you to identify the needs and problems of your franchisees and adapt your sales strategy accordingly.

Here are some examples of the right questions to ask:

  • What’s your role within the network?
  • What problems do you encounter on a daily basis, and how can we help you solve them?
  • Do you feel close to other franchisees? If not, how can we help you connect with them?
  • How do you like to consume information?
  • What subjects would you like to learn more about? Which formats do you prefer?
  • Do you feel comfortable using intranet/enterprise social network-type tools?

2. Map out your network

Now that you know your franchisees a little better, we suggest you map them out with a dedicated tool: Holaspirit. This step isn’t necessarily essential for managing a franchise network, but believe us: it’ll be very useful for the rest of the process!

Holaspirit enables you to document all your network’s roles and processes. Thanks to a role-based organizational chart, you can see at a glance all the different roles within each franchise—as well as the needs and issues raised by each. 

This is a great way to capitalize on what you’ve learned during your interviews, and also to identify the people who can serve as your ambassadors (as well as those who might hold out to change).

mapping out and managing a franchise network on Holaspirit
Mapping out roles on Holaspirit’s organizational chart

3. Recruit a facilitator

To manage a franchise network, you need… you guessed it: a manager! Depending on the size of your network, you may need to recruit one or more facilitators who will:

  • facilitate information sharing between franchisor, franchisees, and different network members
  • report needs from the field to head office
  • share franchisor know-how to franchisees
  • energize and unite the franchise network

Facilitators must have good listening, analytical, organizational, and interpersonal skills. Ideally, they should be dedicated to their role, but they can also manage other subjects alongside depending on the network’s needs.

4. Choose the right network management tool

The next step for managing a franchise network is to set up a tool that the franchise manager can use to centralize all communications and connect franchisees together.

Before choosing your network facilitation tool, consider your needs. In particular, ask yourself: 

  • What will the tool be used for? 
  • What features do you need for this specific use case?
  • Who will use the tool? (franchisor and all franchisees; brand managers only…)
  • What constraints do you need to respect (in terms of budget, data security, etc.)?

If you’re looking for an all-in-one network management tool, Talkspirit could be the right choice. Our platform integrates all the functionalities required to facilitate and coordinate a franchise network: 

  • a news feed and a home portal to highlight franchisor and franchisee news
  • a directory that allows you to find any member of the network with a single click
  • chat rooms to facilitate information sharing and collaboration between franchisees
  • a content library to capitalize on the network’s knowledge and expertise
  • a shared calendar for inviting franchisees to key network events

Franchise networks such as Gîtes de France or PUR etc. use Talkspirit to facilitate and coordinate their various franchisees. Why not you?

Sharing publications on Talkspirit's news feed is a great way for managing and facilitating a franchise network
Sharing publications on Talkspirit’s news feed

5. Identify ambassadors

Managing a franchise network also means relying on communication relays working in the field. And the best people to take on this role are… franchise ambassadors! 

These spokespeople are a great asset to the network, as they can help you:

Their role is not to run the network, but rather to facilitate the work of the facilitators by becoming their eyes and ears in the field. 

PS: Check out this article to find out how to create your own ambassador network.

6. Promote cross-functional communication

When managing a franchise network, the aim is not just to pass on information, but above all to encourage cross-franchise communication (i.e. exchanges between members). 

Here are a few examples of initiatives to develop franchisee involvement and participation:

  • Create groups dedicated to sharing best practices and experiences on your network facilitation tool.
  • Ask your facilitators to regularly share tips and relevant content in these groups, to encourage members to do the same.
  • Organize themed Q&A sessions by videoconference and invite members to take the floor to answer questions.
  • Set up regular meetings (quarterly, for example) to encourage networking and the creation of links between franchisees.
  • Invite your members to brainstorming workshops to get them involved in strategic subjects (for example, the development of a new offer). Then highlight their contributions on your internal communications tool.
  • Suggest fun activities, such as challenges, quizzes, or competitions with prizes.

At Gîtes de France, gamification is a key element in facilitating network members. We organize an activity about every month, which we then highlight on the Talkspirit home portal. On this page, we also share tips and tricks, employee interviews, and competitions. For example, last December, we launched a Christmas quiz on our business culture. That went very well,” says Christine Cheret, in charge of internal communications.

7. Highlight local initiatives

What better way to run a franchise network than to showcase your franchisees? That’s what the French National Association for the Creation of Socially Responsible Grocery Stores (ANDES) is all about. 

In 2021, the association set up the Talkspirit platform to help its network of over 500 socially responsible grocery stores to help reduce food insecurity. Regional groups formed to share information and highlight the work of the local grocery stores in each area. This initiative has helped to promote awareness of network members and bring them greater recognition.

Quote from client Rozenn Kantarci, who uses Talkspirit for managing a grocery store network

Think you’d like to apply this best practice to your franchise network? Just follow our 3-step method:

  1. Identify initiatives launched by your franchisees through your network of ambassadors.
  2. Contact franchisees to discuss their initiatives. Then, offer to promote them to the rest of your network in the format of their choice (like print, video, or carousel ads). 
  3. Share these local initiatives regularly in your internal newsletter and/or on your network facilitation tool. Thank the franchisees who took part, and recommend other franchisees highlight their own successful projects.

7. Train newcomers

Onboarding new franchisees onto the network is a bit like integrating new employees into a company. It involves preparing a training program and resources tailored to the newcomer’s needs. However, it also means supporting the newcomer, so that he or she can settle in and integrate into the network.

To onboard and train your new franchisees, you can:

  • assign them a mentor or sponsor who can guide them and answer their questions
  • give them access to an online training program that brings together all the skills and knowledge they need
  • explain how to use your network facilitation tool
  • complement these training courses with coaching workshops led by other franchisees
  • centralize your integration and training resources (Q&A, video tutorials, useful articles, member feedback, etc.) on a dedicated tool (such as the Talkspirit library)
Centralizing resources and processes on Talkspirit's library
Centralizing training resources and processes on Talkspirit’s library

All these initiatives will facilitate new members’ onboarding and reinforce their sense of belonging to the network. This should make your job of facilitating the network much easier.

A final word

To run a franchise network, start by identifying the needs of your franchisees. This will enable you to choose a suitable facilitation tool and target the number of facilitators and ambassadors you need to recruit. These ambassadors can then help you share communications with the whole network and develop cross-franchise exchanges. 

Several of our customers have followed these best practices to manage their own internal network or community. Their feedback is unanimous: coaching has played a key role in this process. If you, too, would like to boost your franchise network, it’s time to make a move! Schedule a meeting with one of our experts today to receive customized support. 👇

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