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How real marital principles can influence franchise relationship & strategy

Marriage is a strong-willed decision and a long-term commitment. Nowadays, people don’t just get hitched because of early pregnancy, pressure, or practicality. In fact, data show that from 2008 to 2017, the number of marriages in the Philippines has declined by 10.6% from 486,514 to 434,932 (Philippines Statistics Authority).

With more access to knowledge and opportunities, people are becoming wiser and more decisive when it comes to marriage. Its impact and importance in our lives can influence our energy, health, career, and ultimately, our future. And it’s enlightening to know that franchise relationship is a lot like it.

What is franchise relationship?

Basically, it is the business relationship between a franchisor and a franchisee (or among all franchise stakeholders/players). Greg Nathan, a world-renowned franchise relationship guru emphasized in his book Profitable Partnerships (7th Edition), “In searching for a useful way to describe how the business relationship between a franchisor and a franchisee works in practice, the marriage analogy is probably the most useful, largely because of the long-term nature of the relationship and the interdependence of each party on the other.”

Even though it is a business relationship founded and legalized through a contract or an agreement, franchise relationship is built on human and personal aspects that are also present in the pillars of long-lasting, happy, successful marriages. Take a look at these:

1. Leveling of expectations

What do you suppose will happen if you and your spouse do not know what you expect from the relationship? Pain. Chaos. Or worst, separation. The same goes with franchising. Before going into a franchise relationship, involved parties should be made aware of all the expectations in order to avoid subsequent disappointment and failure. Franchisees should be encouraged to be curious when voicing their concerns while franchisors should be adept in providing direction and leadership with openness to new learnings.

“The franchise sales and qualification period is absolutely the best time for clarifying the expectations of both parties. The franchisor should have a checklist of questions to test the franchisee’s expectations and the franchisee should be encouraged to use a list of pre-prepared questions in discussion with the franchisor such as those listed in some of the better Franchise Guides available on the market,” as explained in Profitable Partnerships.

2. Supporting and coaching each other

These are the distinctive roles that franchisors and franchisees need to fulfill so a fruitful business relationship can flourish. However, because we are after all human, our performance can sometimes be faced with challenges or differences and therefore lead to undesirable outcomes.

When this happens, it’s okay to feel worried or be taken aback. But that should be about it. Taking it further by blaming someone for a mistake or a problem is never the best course of action. What matters most now is how you support and coach each other in this time of difficulty. As departed psychologist and marriage counselor Robert Dodds once said, “The goal in marriage is not to think alike, but to think together.”

It can be through a coaching session, a one-on-one discussion, a roundtable meeting, or an informal chat over the phone, but whatever form it may take, showing your support and coaching your partner are vital in solving the issue and steering the franchise relationship in the right path.

3. Communicating openly and effectively

One of the top reasons why married couples split up (aside from the classic infidelity case) is terrible or non-existent communication. Just like marriage, franchise relationship is a close and interdependent kind of relationship, where parties are expected to be transparent and interdependent on each other in order to achieve greater success. “[For] the interdependent relationship to prosper, there needs to be adequate maturity, acceptance and respect from both parties…In other words, both parties accept responsibility for shaping the quality of the relationship,” wrote Greg Nathan in his A+ book The Franchise E-Factor (4th Edition).

Here are some tips on effective communication as exposed in Profitable Partnerships:

· Treat people with respect by listening to their point of view and stay open to their ideas, even when these run counter to your own.

· Before giving your opinion, clarify with the person that you do really understand their situation.

· Acknowledge the personal hurts of others and, where appropriate, say you are sorry.

· Maintain open communication channels at all times, no matter how frustrated you feel. Call in a facilitator if necessary.

· Don’t invest time or money in trying to solve relationship or communication problems with legal solutions.

· Explore interests rather than defend positions and keep an open mind on any option that could satisfy the other person’s interest.

4. Improving together continuously

How sweet it is to see yourself and your spouse grow and improve together, right? A lot has been changing through time and it is only fitting that our relationships also change and improve, whether in terms of career direction & support, fitness goals, new endeavors, or life decision & changes.

“In this environment, our success will be largely determined by how well we manage and communicate this change, especially in a franchise system where the needs of customers, franchisees and the franchisor must be met,” said Greg Nathan in his book. Most of the time, people resist change because of fear. The key to managing change effectively is to communicate how these changes can contribute significantly to the improvement of the franchise brand, systems, and company as a whole.


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