Q&A with IFA President, Shelly Sun
How important is franchisee satisfaction to you? I don’t know of any franchise executive who doesn’t focus on franchisee satisfaction. I obsess over it You’ve got to know what’s working and what’s not so you can course-correct if necessary.
Do you believe that franchisees begin with an expectation of success, and are looking to the franchisor for leadership in order to maximize their success? Every franchisee gets into business to succeed, but it’s not enough to achieve great sales or profit – you want to feel satisfied about what you’re doing. For success and satisfaction, yes, franchisees look to us for leadership. I have a mantra, “Listen, Learn, Lead.” I need the first two in order to do the third.
Some franchisees will tell you what they think you want to know, and others will withhold negative feedback. How can you be sure that you are making strategic decisions based on real metrics? Confidential surveys are important because they’re quantitative (we can measure and benchmark scores to specific programs) and they’re qualitative where we ask open-ended questions. Franchisees who are generally reticent will often open up if the survey is anonymous. We compare these numbers with all of our conversations to get a picture of what’s going on. Our goal is to use all availab
le tools to get a clear picture.
Recruiting high-quality candidates is crucial for long-term sustainable brand growth, and this is more challenging than ever before. How important is positive validation from existing franchisees in your sales and development process? Incredibly important. Our CMO says personal testimonials have always been the most effective advertising – always will be – and that applies to franchise development. If we “listen, learn and lead” then validation will be more positive. Being certified as a World-Class Franchise® allows us to showcase our high franchisee satisfaction (through independent, third-party research) and this has proven critical to attracting and closing deals with high-caliber candidates.
In your book, you write about a “culture of shared success”; can you expound on this? It’s very simple: we succeed if franchisees succeed, and vice versa. For example, we look closely at our weekly sales reports and jump right in if there’s a decline somewhere. A franchisee has invested her own money to succeed with our brand, and we want that bet to pay off.
For the last decade you have engaged the Franchise Research Institute to perform a confidential “deep dive” into your franchisee’s opinions. How have you used the research results to prioritize corporate efforts in order to maximize “shared success” for BrightStar Care? We use the data provided by FRI as our annual physical. A comprehensive (last year 73% of our franchisees participated) and confidential opportunity for everyone to speak their mind… and believe me they do! We are unusual in that our FAC has direct input into prioritizing our corporate efforts. For example, they asked for a better way to recruit and retain caregivers, and the very same year we delivered a solution they could implement locally. Not surprisingly, the same need showed up in our surveys with FRI. It reassured all of us that we were doing the right things.
2017 marks FRI’s 15th anniversary as the originator of franchisee satisfaction surveys. We are honored to provide research and recognition for many leading franchise companies. Founder and CEO Jeff Johnson has been immersed in franchising for over 30 years; first as a franchisee, next as a multi-unit franchisee, then as an area developer for a national QSR franchise.
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The Franchise Research Institute® is the original auditor of franchisee satisfaction and it’s focus is solely on research and recognition. FRI does not sell advertising or leads.