Strengthening your franchise relationships

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RACHEL HUMPHREY
AAHOA Interim President & CEO

The franchise model is the absolute foundation of the hotel industry. For decades, AAHOA members have fostered successful business partnerships with just about every hotel brand in the industry. It is these mutually beneficial relationships that have created a nationally competitive market in which hoteliers have been able to thrive.

But not all franchise agreements are created equal and not all brands are right for everyone. Brand standards, fees, and sign-on requirements can vary dramatically from company to company. Like anything, learning what does and does not work for your business is a learning curve, but it does not always have to be completely trial and error. It is important for new franchisees, as well as those with more experience under their belts, to do thorough research into every brand in consideration. Brands that may not have been at the top of the list could have attributes that are better suited to your business profile and, likewise, diversification of your portfolio may be important to your business success. Franchise agreements are long-term commitments and weighing all factors can help you make an informed decision that could lead to more success down the road.

It also is important to go into these agreements with an open mind and the willingness to find compromise. There can and will be struggles in even the best-matched franchisor-franchisee relationships. After observing these partnerships at work for more than 20 years in my career, I have learned that franchisees and brands that have strong and open lines of communication not only function better but lead to more opportunities to grow together. But this communication must go both ways. Brands must listen to their franchisees both individually and collectively. Acting as separate entities with different goals only creates friction that over time can wear on the partnership. In the end, stronger relationships with better communication can only result in greater success for both parties.

Working with your brands can offer more to your business than you might be utilizing. Brands have tools that can be so valuable to greater profitability for your hotel but too often go unused. Whether it is learning about new business practices through brand connections, staying informed of brand offerings, professional development programs, or even attending networking events, these brand resources are there to help you succeed. Taking the next step in your agreement and furthering that relationship beyond paper can take your business initiatives to the next level.

You know your business best and figuring out what brand fits your needs can result in better, more fruitful partnerships. Keep in mind that you and whatever brand you choose are in this together, both want to reach success, and the best way to make that happen is by making the conscious effort to work as long-term business partners.

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