Building a strong relationship between a corporation and its retailers is essential for the system to thrive. One essential factor in such a relationship is effective communication, like in any other business.
In a franchise environment, though, there are some unique challenges when it comes to communication. Retail locations may be scattered across regions, time zones, and countries. The organization may have a number of different brands. The technologies in place were acquired to solve a single need and these disparate solutions are not integrated together. Finally, corporations are not able to effectively track and ensure that communications are being consumed and actioned; which creates compliance risks for things like recalls. All of these challenges can make it complicated to ensure that everyone gets the information necessary to succeed.
Here are some ways organizations can improve communication with their retailers.
Treat Communication Seriously
Franchise systems are composed of a large number of moving parts, from the various departments in the corporation itself, to the potentially hundreds of stores spread out all over the world with their own managers and teams. It’s critical that you institute efficient communication channels from top management all the way down, but also from the bottom to the top. The latter is often more challenging, in large part because it is not considered as important, which is a mistake.
Creating multidirectional communication channels is essential for any organization that wants their retailers to thrive.
If you don’t take communication seriously, there is no way to achieve consistency or to ensure that each store delivers on the brand promise. This will eventually hurt the brand as a whole, leading to a loss of customer faith and, eventually, a decline in revenues across the board.
If you communicate consistently with your retailers, it will make everyone feel informed, empowered, and, most importantly, engaged with the future of the organization. This engaged team will be armed with all the information that is relevant for them to succeed. This will lead to increased productivity, happier customers, and a significant boost to profitability.
Some corporations will use email as a communication channel. However, emails aren’t the most effective approach.
Firstly, broadcasting personalized information is difficult to achieve at scale and to track who has read it. Additionally, there is a lack of a well-kept archive which makes it difficult for retailers to refer back.
There’s also the issue of a lack of integration with an operations solution. This means that there’s no way to track the tasks that need to be completed, which leads to further communication breakdowns and compliance risk.
Learn to Listen
Communication should be two-way. In other words, you should be listening as much as you are talking. This means fostering an environment where honest dialogue is encouraged. This will allow you to understand the different issues retailers are facing, enabling you to provide them with the support they need to succeed.
Therefore, it is essential to provide retailers with the means to communicate with the corporation. For example, if there are daily tasks that must be completed it’s not only important to track in real time that the tasks a being completed; but gathering feedback as to why task are not being completed. Some organizations have dedicated guidance departments to encourage retailers to come up with ideas to streamline and improve operations.
Take Advantage of Technology
Technology can be the solution to communication challenges. However, like previously mentioned it can also be a cause of friction. A first step would be to research and understand the different user journeys in the organization. With that in place you can use technology to solve the communication barriers.
Some corporations, for example, mix automated notification systems with an intranet. Thus, various notifications, such as emails, in-app, push, or text, are automatically generated when content is added. This not only saves a lot of time compared to manually sending out them out, but it also ensures that everyone is aware of vital information as it becomes available.
Many corporations are also turning to mobile. After all, most people have their smartphones with them at all times, so making their existing intranet mobile responsive (or even delivering a different experience based on the mobile user) and sending push notifications makes for really easy and effective communication.
The key to success is being committed to your retail locations. After all, your main goal is to help every retailer succeed because when they succeed, so does the corporation. When you show your commitment through effective communication and support, you will promote loyalty, which further improves the likelihood of success.
Remember, though, that you also need to provide retailers with the tools for effective communication. At Veriday, we offer a number of different solutions, including custom-built platforms with application accelerators to build tailored software with a faster time to market, allowing organizations to open up communication channels with their franchises and improve the likelihood of success.