Ask any franchisor what the hardest part of their job is, and you’ll likely hear some version of this response: “I can’t maintain brand consistency because my franchisees all want to put their own stamp on the business.”

Then ask any franchisee what the hardest part of their job is, and you might hear something like this: “I don’t have any freedom to make the changes I think are necessary because of corporate guidelines and oversight.”

If you were to look at this objectively, both parties have good points. Franchisees must adhere to brand guidelines, in order to retain consistency of the brand and not dilute its established power. But they must also have the autonomy to make decisions within their individual locations, in order to best cater to their buyers.

So is a relationship with this much give-and-take even impossible, and if so, how does it function?

Glad you asked. Here are two keys to making it work…

1. Recognize you’re on the same team. First, both parties need to get out of a competitive mindset. You’re not playing against one another; in fact, when one of you thrives, so does the other. With this perspective, you can both approach discussions with a healthier temperament and with greater willingness to listen to the other’s point of view. Once your dialogue is open and productive, you can begin to compromise.

2. Stay in your own lane. The franchisor’s job is to make decisions about what parts of the brand absolutely must be consistent across the board. This will usually include branding aspects like logo, color schemes and tag lines. The franchisee’s job is to make sure the brand is appealing to customers in their specific location, based upon their demographics. So it’s a good idea for the franchisor to create templates and boundaries with marketing materials, but then allow each franchise location to customize these as needed in order to meet the needs of their buyers. Recognizing each of your roles – and staying in them – is paramount to this relationship panning out.

These two tips will give you a good start, but there’s more to this story. To find out further details about strengthening the relationship between franchisor and franchisee, check out my full article in Franchising USA this month.