As a kid growing up, there were three ways into our house. There was the Front Door, which was reserved for invited guests, the occasional salesperson (often ignored) and once in a great while, a Hari Krishna or some other well meaning individuals (universally ignored).
There was also the Basement Door which led to the back yard. On nice days, that is where the invited guests gathered and had easy access back into the house as there was a full bar and bathroom in the basement.
Finally there was the Kitchen Door. The Kitchen Door was one that you could almost always look into, was never locked and was the place that we kids, friends and neighbors used exclusively.
After all, the Kitchen Door led directly to the kitchen of course, which even today seems to be the favorite gathering spot for family, friends and neighbors (I'm still unsure of the psychology of that).
As a Supplier, attempting to get through to the Franchisor of a system, the Front Door metaphorically is often the only way in. And as I said before, it may not be the most effective way of getting in or attended to.
As the Back/Basement Door is reserved for the enjoying of company, often the most effective way for a Supplier to get in front of the Franchisor is through the Kitchen Door.
The keepers of that door are usually the Franchisees and specifically the Franchisee Associations
and they are more than likely to invite you in with welcome arms.
In many instances, Suppliers who have understood this and used the Franchisee Associations to provide access to the Franchisor for 'approval' often get that 'approval and have sometimes found themselves as the Supplier of choice for the entire system. There are several examples of this and I will supply testimonials in a future article regarding this subject.
There are three critical things for Suppliers to remember when they are considering a relationship with a Franchisee Association:
- Franchisors are often stretched to the limit with personnel, looking for new ways to stand above the competition and just don't have the time to review the product or service that every Supplier wants to present to them.
- The Franchisee Associations are generally interested in new ideas to drive the business, cut unit costs and get much needed support for their group. They can be much more likely to listen to what the Supplier has to offer.
- Most Franchised systems have significantly more Franchisee run operations than Franchisor operated. In some cases this can mean that 70% up to 100% of all the purchasing is being done by the Franchisees. Even though the Franchisor's approval is often required for the protection, consistency and integrity of the Brand, there are a number of products and services that fall outside the parameters of that required approval.
So even if you are an Approved Supplier and seem to have the business in a Franchised System 'locked in', never forget who 'buys most of your stuff'! And, if you haven't achieved that status as a Supplier and can't seem to get an audience with the Franchisor, remember there is always the Kitchen Door where folks are welcome and treated very kindly.