Is Brand enforcement important? Is this a trick question or just a stupid one?
During the day-to-day struggle of competition and the occasional tug-of-war between franchisors and franchisees, we may forget that brand enforcement is THE most important element of the franchise relationship.
Franchise agreements in all systems require uniformity, standards, inspections, and compliance. But the key is enforcement. If the franchisor does not enforce the agreement, uniformity and standards can slip radically...and the animated billboard paints a negative picture.
This is especially important for new franchise systems. Both "partners" need to live and breath the standards. Franchisors: inspect frequently, communicate clearly and enforce regularly. Franchisees: know the standards, embrace uniformity and look forward to inspection - feedback is important. Everyone has a stake in keeping the brand positive.
As a franchise lawyer, I often encounter brand enforcement in notices of default, in an arbitration or mediation and in the courtroom, Commonly, this is too late. Franchisors need to be fair and consistent but must constantly enforce. Franchisees need to remember that they joined a system and that all efforts are "common efforts" to please customers and improve the system..
With that said, franchisors MUST maintain an open, clear and sincere dialogue with franchisees, deliver the enforcement message with care and professionalism, and remain flexible enough to act on legitimate suggestions for change.
Franchisees must provide constructive comments in a non-confrontational manner - in a setting that is outside of an active inspection. Your message will carry more weight when you are in a positive mode rather than a defensive one.
Keep the billboard shining brightly!