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Franchise Leaders Discuss Communication Tactics through a Crisis

Michelle Rowan of Franchise Business Review and Matt Kurowski of The Lash Lounge explain how to step up franchisee support and communications during the pandemic.

Coronavirus continues to have dire effects on businesses across the country, and the franchise industry is no exception. That’s why franchisors across segments are strategizing new ways to support their franchisees and keeping the lines of communication open more now than ever before.

To that end, 1851 Vice President Liane Caruso opened up a conversation about communication with two franchise industry leaders who have unique perspectives on the topic. Caruso spoke with Michelle Rowan, CFE, president and COO of Franchise Business Review, and Matt Kurowski, a franchisee, franchisor and consultant about how the franchising industry is responding to the crisis through varied communication channels. 

Here are some of the key insights from their discussion.

Make Communication More Intentional and Authentic

Go above and beyond to make sure both franchisors and franchisees are heard. If your message is intentional and authentic, it will be more respected and valuable. There is a lot of information being released to an overwhelming extent, so ensure that you’re adding value to the conversation.

Be Available and Stay Connected

As a franchisor, you likely can’t solve every franchisee issue right now. But being available to your franchisee via phone or video goes a long way. Franchisees need to feel heard and want to know you’re addressing issues and challenges on their behalf.  

Vulnerability is Hard to Balance

Vulnerability aligns with authenticity, but as a leader, the message must come through that you’re making sound decisions that aren’t emotionally based. 

It’s okay to Say, “I Don’t Have the Answer”

Franchisors are used to having the answers and are expected to — after all, that’s why franchisees bought into a proven and process-driven system. But it’s okay to say, “I don’t have the answer.” There is no playbook in many of the scenarios happening now, so adaptation to the crisis is forcing franchisors to be flexible. Stemming from this flexibility, new ideas and shifts in business models are being created. And, as difficult as this situation is, Rowan says, “We’ll have stronger leaders on the other side of this.” Those leaders will be those who were able to react quickly and be open to change.

Smart Ideas Project 2020

Franchise Business Review (FBR) has launched a new initiative called Smart Ideas 2020, in which they’re soliciting ideas from franchisors that are helping them navigate their businesses in the coming months through this unprecedented time. Ideas can include communication strategies, cost reductions, operating adjustments, management tips, etc. FBR will compile the input and share the collective with the franchise community.