Franchise Procedures vs. Franchise Support: The Fight is on– Or is It?

A few weeks ago I commented on a colleague’s Facebook post agreeing with his argument to encourage franchisors to create and implement Social Media Policies and Procedures.  A franchisee of an unidentified brand also made a comment enraged at the original posting and at my agreement with it. Her argument was that franchisors should worry more about support than about policies and procedures. In her mind she saw the two totally different and she seem to see the issue as an ‘either/or’. I can understand her point of view and her anger as I have worked with and known of many franchisors whose only or main objective is the enforcement of the agreement or policies, whether or not they make sense or add to the success of the franchise network.

To me, policies and procedures are not about compliance as much as they are about the support of all franchisees. Franchise procedures are simply step by step explanations or directions of how to operate the business successfully. Franchise polices are guidelines of conduct that allow franchisees to communicate and relate with each other, their customers and the franchisor. These policies protect the brand and therefore the franchisees’ investments. Can policies and procedures be used for compliance purposes? Of course they can; and, in the appropriate circumstances, they should.

True, there are some franchisors who see policies and procedures as a way to control the behavior of franchisees; and, in some cases, just for the sake of this type of control. But successful franchisors learn that policies and procedures are tools to guide franchisees and the entire organization to success. They are not all about compliance, or enforcement, or control; they are about guiding and supporting franchisees; and, as the situation dictates, they provide the legal grounds to protect the brand and the franchise system.

Franchising is all about policies and procedures and successful franchisors use these tools to train and support franchisees. As new technology or methodologies are created such as for example the social media explosion, franchisors must update their franchise policies and procedures to guide franchisees about the best way to incorporate the new technology into their businesses. It is not only the franchisor’s right to do so; it is his or her obligation.