When most franchisees think about running a successful business, they think of controlling expenses, increasing revenue, and maximizing profits. But there’s another side to running a successful business—building important business relationships. If you want to have a long-term, sustainable and financially successful business, you must nurture your most important relationships.
Business Relationship Types
Customers. Your customers are the most obvious business relationship type, without them your franchise would simply not survive. When you’re building relationships with customers you should think about the following:
- Attracting new customers. When you first interact with someone who has never heard of your business before, it’s important to make a good first impression. Show them what value you’re delivering and why they should choose you over competitors.
- Listening. Once you’ve won someone over as a customer, listening to their concerns and wants is critical to keeping them. Setup a process where you can collect candid feedback, and make adjustments to how you’re doing business so that you’re constantly improving.
- Customer service. When you’re a franchise owner, you benefit from established and battle-tested processes that can make running a successful business easier. Use established processes to keep your customer service quality at the highest levels. Even one bad interaction can turn a customer against your business, so put into place a process for quickly responding to negative feedback.
- Reward systems. Be sure to leverage any loyalty reward systems available through your franchise. Customers are more likely to return if they know you appreciate their business.
Employees. Good help really is hard to find, and most franchise owners don’t realize that until they’ve been tasked with replacing a very high-quality employee. Your relationship with your employees will make a huge difference in the long-term health of your business because keeping your best employees around long-term is pivotal. Take the time to invest in your employees’ personal and career well-being so that they’re not only motivated to remain with your business but they will recommend you to other people looking for work. Having a reputation as a good employer will make it easier for you to hire good quality people even when better-funded competitors offer higher wages. Many high-quality employees are willing to work for less if they can work in a healthy workplace environment and they have opportunities for advancement. Here are a few basic things you can do to improve your relationship with employees:
- Provide fair wages.
Good employees won’t stick around if they’re not paid fairly. There are always other employers willing to pay a premium for excellent workers.
- Create transparent policies.
Communicate expectations clearly and in writing so that there is no confusion about what you want from employees.
- Keep out toxic individuals.
People who create drama, pick fights, or engage in other toxic behavior will kill your business faster than a recession. Once you realize that someone is toxic, remove them from your workplace.
- Offer recognition and money.
Never take excellent work for granted, take the time to recognize employee excellence systematically through annual bonuses or “employee of the month” type programs.
Maintaining positive relationships with your employees is a profitable strategy.
Vendors are more than just “the help.” They are an important part of your growing franchise. You must take the time to find out how vendors can better serve your business goals and be careful to treat them with the respect they deserve. This means paying vendor invoices in a timely manner and communicating professionally even when you’re dissatisfied with a service or product. When you’re building a relationship with a vendor this is what you should consider:
Look for vendors who can meet your quality demands.
Build relationships with vendors who can deliver what you need at the scale you want.
Consider if your vendor can grow with you as your business expands.
Even if you’re not quite ready to take on a vendor, always keep an eye out for vendors who can help you reach your future goals.
One of the relationships some franchisees fail to nurture is their relationship with colleagues. Nurturing relationships with other franchisees and individuals working in the industry is important. People in the same industry as you can provide valuable insights into the industry trends, news, and developments that simply can’t be found in an internet search. To continuously build your relationships with colleagues, join industry organizations and attend industry events, this is where you will build valuable connections that will serve your business in ways you can’t imagine.
The right business loan can transform your franchise business from small and just getting by to expansive and thriving. This is why properly nurturing your relationships with lenders is critical to your success. The first step to doing that is working with a lender you trust and that believes in the long-term viability of your business. Then you should stay committed to keeping your promise to repay the loan according to the terms you agreed to. You should also share your business objectives with your lender and find out how they can help you reach your goals at each step in your development. If you’ve made some major advancements feel free to share the news with your lender’s contact person.
No matter what type of business relationship you’re nurturing, there are some general strategies that can help you maintain and grow the relationship.
- Be authentic. Not that you have to let “everything hang out” but you should be your best self. Feel free to share aspects of your life you don’t mind being public and be willing to listen to the challenges and accomplishments your business contacts want to share.
- Share the knowledge. If you have valuable information you believe may help a business contact, don’t be afraid to share it with a little note. Once you’ve established a pattern of sharing valuable information, your business contacts will begin to see you as a valuable resource they want to remain connected to.
- Share your contacts. If you’re well-connected, you might be surprised at how many may benefit from your introductions. When you notice potentially valuable connections, don’t be shy about making introductions.
Treat your business relationships like a valuable resource so that your business can benefit for years to come.