If you’ve been running your franchise for a while, you probably have an idea or two about how the franchise as a whole could make improvements. Maybe you’ve found a shortcut to preparing a signature dish without dropping its quality. Or you have some thoughts about how you could better market in your local community. Whatever the idea, you want the attention of your franchisor…only you’re finding it hard to get.
Franchise organizations are large; much larger than your franchise location, or even all the locations in your city or state. Some are on a global scale, and that means you have to deal with the typical bureaucracy you’d deal with at any large corporation. There’s always a pecking order and red tape to get through. Are you ready for a little work to get through to franchise headquarters?
Start by Thinking of What the Franchisor Wants
The best way to get someone at the corporate headquarters to listen to your idea is to put the needs of the company at large first. What are its goals? How can you help them move the needle toward those objectives? If your idea accomplishes this, you’ve got a much better chance of being heard.
On the other hand, if, for example, you’ve found a cheaper vendor for your food, the franchisor might nix the idea altogether, since they have a firm relationship with specific vendors that you are required to use. Consider whether your idea is in the best interest of the franchisor and other franchisees before you pitch it.
Find the Right Point of Contact
You may have been assigned an account manager to help with issues and questions, but this person might not be high enough up on the chain to actually consider implementing your idea. You can ask this individual to point you in the right direction, or you can also take matters into your own hands.
Spend some time on LinkedIn searching for executives in the department that you want to pitch your idea to. Connect with a few key people and introduce yourself. Wait for a response before proceeding. Once your invitation is accepted, ask what the protocol is for suggesting a new concept or idea. If there’s not one in place, your new contact may simply suggest a phone call to discuss it. In that case, prep before your call so that you can lay out your idea as well as reasons why the franchisor would want to implement it, and benefits of doing so.
Participate in the Franchisor’s Advisory Council
If the franchise has an advisory council, volunteer for it. This is a great opportunity to network with others in the organization, especially at the leadership level. It’s also your chance to influence changes that the company embraces. It’s a natural step to bringing up your idea once you’ve shown your value and gained trust with the rest of the council.
All in all, you want to show that you are eager to help the franchise as a whole succeed. Be helpful whenever you can, and weigh in on subjects when asked. If you bend over backwards to help your franchisor, the company will be more open to hearing your thoughts.