Partner managers (or partner supervisors) are in constant contact with the franchise partners. They are the link between the head office and the partners and an important interface for a functioning communication and a successful network.
Partner managers are closer to the Franchisee, know more about their business and also about their private issues than anyone else at headquarters. This broad area of responsibility is “not a normal” job.
Successful partner managers focus mainly on three areas in their work with franchise partners:
- The (own) emotional resilience,
- The financial situation and the management of finances at the franchise partner,
- The support in the daily business of a partner company.
Particularly in crises such as the current COVID-19 pandemic, but also in the event of personal strokes of the fate of the franchise partner (illness, death of a family member, etc.), it is precisely these three areas that require special attention:
# 1. Watch out for early indicators of mental overload on the franchise partner
Recognize the signs that the Franchisee is under tremendous pressure. Does he withdraw a lot, is he no longer communicating, or is he even completely submerged?
Does he show a high degree of fear or anger, does he look unkempt, is depressed and unmotivated? Support him and most importantly, listen actively.
It may be a good idea to work with an external professional, coach or mediator. You don’t have to complete a psychology degree and think your way around the franchise partner. Rely on experts with a clear conscience.
Franchise partner managers should also take care of their mental health. Your role of communicator, mediator, business coach, everything- know-how entails a high level of stress from which you should protect yourself from time to time and withdraw.
Your leading indicators are the same as those of your franchise partners. Take care of yourself!
#2. Remain mentally resilient
You’ve been doing this job for a while, and you know you can’t take the stress and worries of the franchisees your own. Remain constructive with the necessary distance from the person and the situation. Only in this way can you continue to act in a solution-oriented manner and support your counterpart.
It is possible to care for others and show empathy without feeling personally responsible for others’ feelings. This requires a certain amount of professional distance so that you can think clearly and do your best.
#3. Franchisees focus on the future
When people feel threatened, such as in a serious crisis, they go on the defensive and close themselves off. Most of all, they fix their minds on anything that can go wrong.
This doesn’t help when problem-solving and proactivity are required. One can help with solution-oriented questions that move the mind to constructive thinking. For example:
- What is the best possible result we could achieve right now?
- What do you need?
- What would be one small step we can take to achieve this?
- How can I support you?
Above all, asking and listening are important attributes to support. Sometimes just a short hug helps to ease the fear and give comforting confidence.
#4. Help your Franchisee’s control costs
Your support as a franchisor and partner adviser is particularly important when negotiating with landlords, suppliers, credit institutions and authorities.
For most companies, rent, loan repayment, and employee wages are important (onerous) fixed monthly costs.
Every rupee your franchise partners save with your help increases the financial viability of your partners and stabilizes your franchise network. Some entrepreneurs also simply need guidance in managing their expenses (which in times of crisis usually have no income).
#5. Stay fully informed about political decisions, current events, and any threats
In an uncertain and rapidly changing environment, survival depends on staying current and aware of what is happening.
Your franchisees may be informed about various government grants and simplifications, but they may not know how to apply for immediate government payments, low-interest loans, or even short-time allowances quickly and easily.
Here the exchange of information among like-minded people, as in a franchise network, can represent a competitive advantage.
As a franchise partner manager or supervisor, make sure that your franchise partners only apply for the support services to which they are entitled. Otherwise, you risk negative press and put your brand at risk.
#6. Cash flow management / secure liquidity
In times of crisis, whether “just” personal or comprehensive, monitoring the weekly cash flow is far more important than analyzing the monthly financial statements.
It is a primary task of a partner manager in times of crisis to analyze his liquid funds regularly and at short intervals and to derive helpful measures. Restore the feeling of control and leadership to your franchisees.
Support you with a detailed list of
- Debts and debtors,
- Funding sources …
It is, of course, crucial that franchisees are completely open and transparent with you about their financial situation. YOU may need to be extremely open about how the situation might develop should the Franchisee withhold important information from you.
Effective support in day-to-day business
#7. Dealing with HR issues during the crisis
Here, too, it is important to be fully informed about state or official relief for entrepreneurs. Help your franchise partners apply for short-time work benefits or similar cost reductions.
Explain the advantages and disadvantages of these measures and if in doubt, get external help from experts. You don’t have to know everything!
Make sure that the measures taken by the franchise partners comply with the statutory provisions. Franchisees should be sensitive to these measures and information towards their employees in order to maintain loyalty and a feeling of togetherness.
#8. Provide security
It is important that employees and customers are not only safe but also feel safe. In crises affecting shops and / or the workplace, people feel very insecure and need the additional certainty that a company and its employees implement and comply with all prescribed safety measures when dealing with its customers.
Inform all target groups who are in contact with your franchise partner locations about your security standards – and measures. This includes not only the customers but also the families of the employees.
#9. Partner managers ensure that experience is shared
Because the world changes daily (or hourly) in a crisis situation, best practice today is different than it was 3 months ago.
Partner managers in a franchise network should collect all strategies and ideas of the franchise partners and facilitate the exchange with one another through regular video and/or telephone conferences.
You have certainly met partner managers from other franchise systems in your sector at franchise trade fairs or similar events.
Contact them and exchange ideas within the industry.