I want to be a Franchisee: Step 8—Communications pt. 1: Talk Amongst Yourselves

By Beth Caron

Thinking about becoming a franchisee? Excited about the opportunities out there but overwhelmed with what you need to know? Here’s the next part in our series of informational posts about how franchising works.

The focus of this blog post is communications—specifically, how franchisors communicate with franchisees, and how they help their franchisees communicate with their customers. As you can imagine, in this ever-changing world of communication channels, franchisors are using more and more methods and formats to deliver their messages.

We asked Tammy Nienaber, Director of Communication for Great Clips, Inc., to tell us how the Great Clips communications team shares important information with franchisees, managers and salon staff.

At Great Clips, we believe the role of a franchisor in communicating with its franchisees is to inspire and influence. We don’t use our communication channels to dictate or direct. Rather, our job is to give franchisees an understanding of the value of following a system that will lead to success.

In the case of a walk-in hair salon, that means helping franchisees know the best ways to attract customers, train employees, deliver great service, sell product, support and promote the brand, find new locations, and anything else that will help grow their business.

Our goal with internal communications is to get important information to our franchisees as quickly as possible, and to share success stories. We use multiple formats to reach them:

  • An extranet site (a website accessible 24/7 to franchisees, general managers and home office employees) that includes the latest news, plus access to training, marketing, financial data and real estate tools
  • Franchisee News, a weekly newsletter emailed to franchisees, featuring success stories from franchisees and relevant information for running a salon
  • Leadership Report, an annual print publication mailed to each franchisee, featuring executive reports and analysis about the industry and the future of the company
  • Systemwide emails on new initiatives, such as brand standards for salon performance, company programs, etc.
  • Webinars on hot topics, such as health care reform and new programs and initiatives

Our extranet site is a critical source of information for our franchisees and their general managers. We are in the middle of a major renovation of the site to make it more content-rich and user friendly, based on feedback from franchisees and managers who use it on a daily basis, and our corporate staff who use it to provide information and resources to everyone in the system.

With our other communication tools, we are big believers in story telling as a way to keep our franchisees informed and to share best practices. That’s one of the biggest advantages of the franchise system—having built-in support not only from the corporate office, but also other franchisees. And Great Clips franchisees love to tell their stories if they know it will help another franchisee. They are never shy about sharing their successes, and they are also very open about sharing what didn’t work or how they addressed a challenge. The best communication is from someone who’s been “there,” and we are fortunate to have franchisees who are so willing to support each other in this way.

In addition to communications aimed at franchisees, we also deliver monthly newsletters for managers and stylists. We believe the best way to grow our brand is by delivering great service in every salon—so communicating with the people who are on the front lines is really critical. These newsletters recognize top performers throughout the system, and give tips for ensuring customer satisfaction.

That’s some of how we communicate internally with our franchisees, and how we help them talk to each other and share information with their staff. In Part 2 of this blog post, I’ll focus on how we support franchisees through external communications: public relations, social media and cause branding.

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