There are many points of… contention between franchisor and franchisees and national account work is one of those issues.
The thing is it’s a complex problem all related to timing.
Franchisors love the idea of winning national account work and so do, it has to be said, franchisees. So, where’s the problem?
The problem comes with coverage. It’s fair to say that many franchisors would be very good at winning the bigger accounts; after all, they know their products inside out and having been selling them for years.
But they are constrained. They can only win national accounts when there is a network of franchisees to cover the nation otherwise they run the risk of letting down the new national customer. In fact, a franchisor has to ask themselves whether national account work is a good thing at all.
On the face of it any franchisee would welcome national account work. After all it’s work they didn’t have to go and win for themselves and it tends to be regular and, if not the best paid job in the world, it’s decent money and they do get paid – because the franchise is managing financial control.
But there is a downside for franchisees they very rarely think about.
The first is that they have to live with a deal created by someone else. The franchisor will negotiate rates that enable them to win the piece of work and this might well be below normal fees. But there is another side to the deal – there will be stipulations that have to be met… things like: the job has to be done within a certain period of time or something extra has to be done.
For example, we did some work a while ago with a car valeter. When a national account job came in the franchisee had to remember to fill up the screen washer bottle and, if they didn’t, they had to go back to do it before they got paid!
But there are other, more subtle dangers for both franchisee and franchisee. If there’s lots of national account work and a franchisee can almost fill their diary with centrally generated jobs the franchisor will be faced lots of lazy franchisees… perhaps not in terms of their work ethic, but certainly in terms of their marketing effort.
Then what happens if the national account work dries up. At the very least you get disgruntled franchisees at worst you get a network of franchisees who don’t have the skills to win business for themselves which can only add up to disaster.
In conclusion then, I think national account work is a good thing as long as franchisees don’t rely on it and the franchisor can service any contract they win.