You probably have a great onboarding plan for new franchisees. They’re likely following a process that gets them up and running. There will always be a learning curve. There will always be challenges. That’s why it’s always good to help out as many ways as possible as the franchisor.
One area, that I’m sure you’ve thought about, is how to help franchisees with their vendor partnerships. Any new business will be overwhelmed with all the work. Bringing on vendors to help is critical. But obviously there is a lot of work involved in just figuring out what vendors to choose. And testing can be tricky because it takes time. It takes money. Franchisees often have to hope for the best when choosing vendors.
But as a franchisor you can take the lead on testing and provide a great service by referring your franchisees to vendors you have vetted and tested.
Here are a few additional thoughts.
1. Research Initial Vendors
The first step is to make it part of your regular process to research and seek out initial vendors. Some likely come to you. Make it a point to create some kind of initial filter where you deny some outreach and schedule meetings for others. We’re talking about software meetings, freelancer meetings and much, much more. You have to look at is that you’re going to take 100 calls with potential vendors in order to find 1-2 that you’ll actually hire and recommend.
But this is why it’s nearly impossible for a small business owner to do it themselves. But this is where you can provide the kind of value to your franchisees that makes them, and you, successful.
Look for vendors willing to offer some kind of test. Most are. If they aren’t, they either can’t afford it or they have substantial proof of concept and have been around awhile. Both can be fine situations. But for most situations it’s better to test and get at least some data to see if it’s worth investing in more.
So have a process in place for you to test vendors for your own business. If you have a franchise yourself then that could be the test vehicle. Or perhaps you can have a selection of franchisees that are willing to test things with your leadership.
There could be an initial test. Then you could bring the vendor on for more work with your franchise. Then after getting enough proof that it’s good you can begin suggesting it for most or all of your franchisees.
3. Create Plan for Scaling
But obviously there can be issues with scaling to your entire collection of franchisees. I think it can be a good thing to discuss potential with vendors. Some will be excited about the prospect of not just working with you, but with all of your franchisees. Be up front with them about the testing process. Try to lay out your expectations. Let them know that many of the tests you do don’t end up working out.
But you want to make sure that they can potentially handle the scale of your business. If not, you’re really wasting time even getting into the test phase.
The final step really in this process is then creating a way to recommend vendors to your team. And after they bring those vendors on have a process for checking the status of those relationships. It might just be a quarterly email to each franchisee asking how their vendor relationships are going. Try to get feedback on the good and the bad. Assess how things are going and look to make changes if changes need to be made.
It’s easy to look at vendor relationships haphazardly. But they’re critical for the success of businesses these days. And it gets even more complicated for franchise businesses it seems. You can alleviate stress for your franchisees by figuring out the vendor process. And that’s good for all involved.