The Key to Great Franchisee Newsletters

My mother lives in an apartment which is part of a retirement village managed by a multinational property group. The nature of the relationship between management and residents is so similar to a franchise network it often makes me laugh. For instance, the residents have created a highly effective Committee that keeps Village Management on their toes. And similar to a franchise network, Village Management tries hard to keep residents informed and satisfied through various newsletters, meetings, support services and surveys.

Two very different newsletters

I am sharing this because a client asked me this week how they could improve their franchisee newsletter. Their question reminded me of the stark contrast between two newsletters my mother receives at the start of each month. One is professionally prepared by Village Management. It is slickly laid out and stapled in magazine format, has crisp photographs and is printed in colour on glossy paper. The other newsletter, which is prepared by volunteers on the Residents Committee, is roughly photocopied in black and white, often has typos, is amateurishly laid out with fuzzy, distorted photos, and is stapled in the corner.

The beautiful looking Village Management newsletter usually hits the bin the day it is delivered. The rough looking Residents Committee newsletter stays on my mother’s coffee table all month to be read and reread until the next issue arrives. The differences in the content of the two newsletters is informative.

Photo of retirement village resident reading a page.

The Management newsletter focuses on the head office staff, such as what the CEO did on her Christmas holidays, and is full of clichés such as how great the village is and how exciting the year ahead is going to be. It contains information about the work management are doing around the property, ads from suppliers, and details of upcoming talks from service providers, which are clearly advertorials.

The Residents Committee newsletter contains useful tips, such as how to stay cool in the summer heat. It also has interesting stories from the lives of residents as well as invitations and details of activities organised by residents — knitting groups, dart competitions, upcoming movies, choir practice, book club news and a class on how to write your memoirs. And it is full of jokes, quizzes, puzzles and corny stories that make you chuckle. Despite its rough appearance it is an enjoyable and engaging read.

Lessons for franchisors

With this in mind, here’s a few do’s and don’ts to keep your franchisee newsletters relevant and interesting.

DO make sure you keep your franchisee details up-to-date so newsletters go to the right people. In our franchisee satisfaction survey work, it amazes me how many franchise networks do not have an accurate list of franchisee names, phone numbers and emails. This could be seen as a reflection of the importance you place on your franchisees.

DON’T get so hung up on the branding and image of your newsletter that you neglect the content. Put 80% of your effort into creating relevant, well written information that engages and entertains your readers. This means understanding what’s important to them.

DO consider producing a printed newsletter to supplement your digital communications. Do not underestimate the appeal of paper newsletters that franchisees can flip through at their leisure, take home with them, share with friends and relatives, or leave in their staff room.

DON’T focus on all the great things you’re doing at head office. Focus on all the great things franchisees are doing, and topics of direct interest to them — extraordinary achievements, examples of collaboration, inspiring customer service stories, and case studies of local marketing initiatives.

DO have franchisees involved in contributing to and checking the content for relevance. Also use a panel of franchisees and field staff to contribute information on what people are up to at the front line of your network.

DON’T give responsibility for compiling the newsletter to a junior staffer who doesn’t have a business mindset. It should be managed by someone who understands what keeps franchisees awake at night and what they want to know — such as how to save money, increase sales, manage staff, balance family commitments, and reduce stress.

DO have an editor who can write clear, succinct, interesting copy. Contract a journalist if necessary. Articles should have catchy headlines, be written in a conversational manner, and contain minimal words. And only make it as long as needed – do not fill space for the sake of it.

I hope you found this useful.

Now is the time to get your team upskilled

If you want to improve communication and engagement levels with your franchisees, we have developed a range of quality events, carefully targeted to the different roles in your franchisor team. Click here to find out more about:

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Given the Parliamentary Inquiry into Franchising recommendations are soon to be released, I’d encourage you to be proactive in ensuring your team knows how to excel in franchise communications.

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