Observe a successful franchise system, and you'll see ongoing communication between the franchisor and its franchisees. One way to get the most from your franchisees--and give the most back--is to implement an Intranet site. Intranets, similar to the Internet, are private systems whose access is restricted to a specific organization.
"Franchisors who use Intranets find they are able to communicate quickly and economically, while ensuring greater security in the transmission of proprietary information," says Mark Siebert, president of Francorp Inc., an Olympia Fields, Illinois-based management consulting firm specializing in franchising.
Siebert suggests franchisors take the following steps when implementing an Intranet:
1. Consult an Internet supplier about hardware and software requirements.
2. Change passwords often and use a coded name to ensure security.
3. Develop an events calendar or a question-and-answer bulletin board.
4. Create a franchisee chat room to encourage goodwill, cut phone costs and notify the franchisor of potential problems.
5. Invite experts to go online with franchisees.
6. Have an employee create and update the site regularly.
7. Post regular reports for downloading.
8. Create a "Suggestion Box" bulletin board.
9. Publish a newsletter.
10. Provide links to other Web sites.