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The Key Ingredients to a Mutually Successful Franchisor-Franchisee Relationship It's all about communication, trust, and recognition.
Written by Dennis R. Maple, chairman and CEO, Goddard Systems, LLC
There is no silver bullet that magically creates the perfect franchise system. Trust me, I know from experience: I proudly serve as the chairman and CEO of Goddard Systems, LLC, the manager of The Goddard School franchise system, which comprises more than 600 franchised early childhood education centers across the country. However, like any great recipe, there are key ingredients that when carefully combined can transform into something far greater than the sum of their parts.
As a franchisor, I've found the key ingredients to nurturing a mutually successful relationship with franchisees to be communication, trust and recognition. Simple, yet deceivingly powerful, these easily overlooked ingredients can truly be the difference between floundering and thriving for any franchise system.
Communication serves as the foundation of any successful relationship, not just in business, but in life. At Goddard, we strive for consistent and transparent communication to all of our key stakeholders, including franchisees. We distribute a steady cadence of system communications, including weekly newsletters highlighting pertinent information, monthly letters from me, periodic updates from our divisional leaders and our bi-monthly operations guide. Moreover, we constantly seek feedback from our franchisees, as communication is certainly not a one-way street. We solicit feedback, formally and informally, listen and adapt accordingly for the betterment of the entire system.
We further facilitate two-way communication with our franchisees through a pair of additional channels. In 2021 we established The Goddard Systems Advisory Council (GSAC) which includes 12 franchisees who provide valuable advice, insights and perspectives. The council's franchisee members reflect the system's diversity of skills, experience, tenure, operating performance and geography. We've also introduced nine franchisee input groups, each comprised of 10 to 15 franchisees and aligned to a function across our organization. These groups meet regularly with their functional leaders and play a vital role in improving communication and enabling ongoing input on initiatives, strategies, problem-solving and new opportunities.
Between GSAC and input groups—as well as our Circle of Excellence, which is highlighted below—about one-third of all Goddard School franchisees are continuously engaged with our Goddard Systems leadership team. By leveraging the collective expertise, experience and interests of our franchisees, we're able to more effectively drive positive outcomes and propel our system forward.
Transparent communication is one of the most effective ways to establish and foster trust. Since joining Goddard in September 2019, building connections with and earning the trust of our franchisees has been one of my top priorities. A day doesn't pass without a phone call with a franchisee. My executive team and I are also intentional about conducting regular market visits with franchisees across the country, as nothing can replicate the power of meeting in-person.
Emerging from the pandemic has allowed us to restart our in-person events, which are ripe with the opportunity to build trust. Last fall we conducted a series of five "Regional Reunions" with franchisees across the country. These sessions provided opportunities to re-engage, foster connections and in some instances meet for the first time in person. The reunions set the stage for our 2023 franchisee convention, our biggest event in Goddard's 35-year history. Our Goddard Systems employees, valued vendors and franchisees spent time collaborating, honoring our past and celebrating our remarkably bright future. These events provide a great forum for collaboration, which I believe is the best way to build trust and drive progress.
Part of building a high-performing franchise system is recognizing and empowering franchisees. At Goddard, we do this through a number of channels. Our annual Circle of Excellence honors the top-performing Goddard Schools that elevate the Goddard brand, reputation and business performance through outstanding achievements in education and operational delivery. To be selected, schools must meet criteria that measure performance excellence, excellence in education, parent experience and brand stewardship. These are the best-of-the-best in our system and in addition to celebrating them, we ask the franchisees to serve as leaders within their franchisee community. A full list of the 2023 Circle of Excellence schools and franchisees is below.
Moreover, we coordinate an awards program that honors outstanding franchisees who make significant contributions to Goddard and within the communities they serve. We recognize these franchisees for leading their teams to success, providing an exceptional experience for their families, overcoming obstacles and supporting the entire system. It's always a special moment when we present the awards at our franchisee convention and highlight the honorees in front of their peers.
At The Goddard School, we have franchisees across the country who are committed to serving their communities and fulfilling our collective mission to make the world a better place through early childhood education. Each of these entrepreneurs have made substantial investments—in many cases, entrusting their financial futures—with us. That is a tremendous responsibility for Goddard Systems and something I think about every single day as my team works to shepherd the brand forward. This year, Goddard is celebrating its 35th anniversary, and by maintaining our relentless focus on fostering communication, trust and recognition with our franchisees, I'm confident that the next 35 years will be even stronger.
The 2023 Goddard School Circle of Excellence Features The Goddard Schools of:
- Anderson Township, OH: Wendy and Mark Reinhart
- Atlanta (Midtown), GA: Viral Davé
- Bel Air, MD: Brenda and Eric Walker
- Bellevue, WA: Kamal DeSilva and Olivia Teja
- Broadview Heights, OH: Kyle Thomas
- Carlsbad, CA: Shalini Dhiman
- Chagrin Falls, OH: Kimberly DiMuzio
- Chesterfield, VA: Debbie Womack
- Collegeville, PA: Adrienne and Tim Clark
- Cranberry Township, PA: Dina and Matt Speranza
- Edgewater, MD: Dave Collins
- Enola, PA: Jordan Zielinski and Stacey Warner
- Fayetteville (West), AR: Ellen Hillis
- Henderson, NV: Jyoti and Gagan Verma
- Horsham, PA: Megan and Mike Thompson
- Huntingdon Valley, PA: Colleen Zahirnyi
- Long Hill Township, NJ: Sumara Ahmad
- Lynnhaven, VA: Anne Pope
- Marriottsville, MD: Sheeba Mathew
- Millburn (Short Hills), NJ: Laura Kulkarni
- Oviedo, FL: Scott Sheldon
- Reno (Somersett), NV: Denise Cross and Alissa Derby
- Schaumburg, IL: Sue Luisi and Dena Maldonado
- Simpsonville, SC: Melanie and Bill Hyatt
- Swedesboro, NJ: Marc Zahirnyi
- Toms River, NJ: Karyn Smykowski and Suzanne Hanf
- Twinsburg, OH: Jason Baker
- Westport, CT: Kristen Bodenstein
- White Marsh (Honeygo), MD: Krystle Molite
- Winter Garden, FL: Pam and Shawn King