Franchising a successful business is akin to giving away your daughter’s hand in marriage. You’ve worked so hard to make this thing you’ve created the best it can possibly be, and now you’re putting the fruits of your labor into the hands of someone else, with the hopes that they will care for it and foster it in the way that you have. It is definitely a nerve-wracking and risky process, and sometimes even the best-laid plans can go awry. However, there are some preventative actions you can take to lessen the chances that a franchise partner will sully your good name.

Consistency is key, so provide your franchisees with the tools to make it happen. Inconsistent branding is the quickest way to make your business look unprofessional and unappealing to consumers. A good brand maintains the same look-and-feel throughout all of their marketing materials across the board. In order to accomplish this, providing your franchisees with customized templates for everything (advertisements, websites, in-store displays, email blasts, etc.) will ensure that your target audience takes your brand seriously, and will increase brand perception and awareness.

      Good customer service starts with good training. The people that work for you are a living representation of everything your brand stands for, which is why smart business owners hire only enthusiastic, friendly, and helpful individuals that are knowledgeable about the brand.In order to get the “knowledgeable” part down, it is vital that your franchising process includes extensive training that allows the franchisee to delve deep into the philosophies and best practices of your company, ensuring that ignorance does not lead to misrepresentations and mistakes.

      Be proactive about tackling the spill before it leaves a stain. In order to keep minor problems from manifesting themselves as major issues in your business model, it is vital that you as the franchisor keep very close tabs on the daily goings-ons at each of your location, complete with customer satisfaction feedback at each. In order to do this, we recommend posting a customer service phone number and email address in highly visible signage throughout the store to ensure that you are receiving all of the feedback, good or bad. In addition, employing some sort of incentive to collect email addresses and gather survey results is a great way to garner valuable customer experience information that wouldn’t have been offered otherwise. (For example: put a sign by the register allowing shoppers to visit the website and fill out a customer satisfaction survey; if they do so, they will be emailed a coupon for 25% off their next purchase.)

Set clear guidelines and stick to them. There are a variety of reasons why certain franchisees fail-possible factors include location, laziness, lack of capability, lack of understanding, lack of time, etc. Sometimes it just takes time for franchisees to acclimate themselves; other times, they are just plain not cut out for the job. In order to weed out potential “bad fits”, there should be a background check and lengthy interview process before franchisees are brought on board. Additionally, strict policy should be put in place that clearly outlines the franchisor’s guidelines, expectations, and the consequences involved with not meeting said expectations. The process of rectifying issues should also be outlined and then followed through with. For instance, the first month that a franchisee doesn’t make their sales goals, a mentor should be dispatched to work through any problem areas with them and help them get back on track. Then, if they continue to fall short for a specified number of months, it should be stated in the policy and agreement that their contract will be terminated at that point in time.

Follow these preventative guidelines, and you will ensure that franchisees have a solid awareness regarding your brand and their responsibilities, as well as the marketing tools necessary to achieve success. Now you just need to find passionate, motivated, and enthusiastic people to carry on your legacy-that part is up to you!