What Marriage Can Teach Us About Franchise Relationships

Marriage is a strong-willed decision and a long-term commitment. With more access to knowledge and better opportunities, people are becoming wiser and more decisive when it comes to getting married. Its impact and importance in our lives can influence our energy, health, career, and ultimately, our future. And it’s enlightening to know that franchise relationship is a lot like marriage. 

What is franchise relationship?

It’s basically the business relationship between a franchisor and a franchisee (or among all franchise stakeholders/players). As Greg Nathan, a world-renowned franchise relationship guru emphasized in his book Profitable Partnerships, “In searching for a useful way to describe how the business relationship between a franchisor and a franchisee works in practice, the marriage analogy is probably the most useful, largely because of the long-term nature of the relationship and the interdependence of each party on the other.”

Even though it is a business relationship founded and legalized through a contract or an agreement, franchise relationship is built on human and personal aspects that are also present in the pillars of long-lasting, happy, successful marriages. These are what makes franchise relationships very similar to a marriage:

1. Levelling of expectations

What do you suppose will happen if you and your spouse do not know what you expect from the relationship? Pain. Chaos. Or worse, separation. The same goes with franchising. Before going into a franchise relationship, involved parties should be made aware of all the expectations in order to avoid subsequent disappointments and failure. Franchisees should be encouraged to be curious when voicing their concerns, while franchisors should be adept in providing direction and leadership with openness to new learnings.


“The franchise sales and qualification period is absolutely the best time for clarifying the expectations of both parties,” Nathan says in Profitable Partnerships. “The franchisor should have a checklist of questions to test the franchisee’s expectations and the franchisee should be encouraged to use a list of pre-prepared questions in discussion with the franchisor such as those listed in some of the better Franchise Guides available on the market.” 

2. Supporting and coaching each other

These are the distinctive roles that franchisors and franchisees need to fulfill so a fruitful business relationship can flourish. However, because we are, after all human, our performance can sometimes be faced with challenges or differences and therefore lead to undesirable outcomes.

When this happens, it’s okay to feel worried or be taken aback. But that should be it. Taking it further by blaming someone for a mistake or a problem is never the best course of action. What matters most now is how you support and coach each other in this time of difficulty. As departed psychologist and marriage counselor Robert Dodds once said, “The goal in marriage is not to think alike, but to think together.”

It can be through a coaching session, a one-on-one discussion, a roundtable meeting, or an informal chat over the phone, but whatever form it may take, showing your support and coaching your partner are vital in solving the issue and steering the franchise relationship to the right path.

3. Communicating openly and effectively

One of the top reasons why married couples split up (aside from the classic case of infidelity) is terrible or non-existent communication. Just like a marriage, a franchise relationship is a close and interdependent kind of relationship, where parties are expected to be transparent and interdependent on each other in order to achieve greater success.

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“[For] the interdependent relationship to prosper, there needs to be adequate maturity, acceptance and respect from both parties,” writes Nathan in his book The Franchise E-Factor. “In other words, both parties accept responsibility for shaping the quality of the relationship,”

Here are some tips on effective communication as discussed in Profitable Partnerships:

- Treat people with respect by listening to their point of view and stay open to their ideas, even when these run counter to your own.

- Acknowledge the personal hurts of others and, where appropriate, say you are sorry.

- Maintain open communication channels at all times, no matter how frustrated you feel. Call in a facilitator if necessary.

- Don’t invest time or money in trying to solve relationship or communication problems with legal solutions.

- Explore interests rather than defend positions and keep an open mind on any option that could satisfy the other person’s interest.

4. Improving together continuously

How sweet it is to see yourself and your spouse grow and improve together, right? A lot has been changing through time and it is only fitting that our relationships also change and improve, in terms of career direction and support, fitness goals, new endeavors, or life decisions.

“In this environment, our success will be largely determined by how well we manage and communicate this change, especially in a franchise system where the needs of customers, franchisees and the franchisor must be met,” Nathan says in his book.

Most of the time, people resist change because of fear. The key to managing change effectively is to communicate how these changes can contribute significantly to the improvement of the franchise brand, systems, and company as a whole.


Celebrating change and improvement—this is how we sharpen the saw of marriage as well as franchise relationships. The Philippines is fortunate that Nathan, who is also a multi-awarded speaker and founder of the Franchise Relationships Institute will be conducting a “Field Manager Bootcamp” on March 20, 2020 in AICFE Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry at Fort Bonifacio, Taguig.

As the international expert and pioneer on franchise relationship, Nathan and his team have been partnering with numerous franchise systems globally to study and understand franchisee-franchisor relationships. For 24 years, they have conducted various research to understand and master the science of successful franchise relations.

For the bootcamp, Nathan will give prolific insights and discussions on these topics and more:

  • Dealing with Conflict and Communication Challenges
  • Coaching Franchisees for Improved Performance
  • Supporting Franchisees Through Their Business Journey
  • Making Field Visits & Meetings more effective
  • The 6 Stages of The Franchise E-Factor
  • Maintaining a Metrics Mindset

The topics are tailored to equip area managers, field managers and franchise executives with the skills and strategies needed to deliver genuine value to franchisees. Moreover, these will allow franchisor executives to learn new tools for escalating and sustaining franchisee satisfaction and success.

Francorp is the Philippines’s largest franchise consulting company and conducts regular seminars and events. For more information on the “Field Manager Bootcamp”, contact (+632) 8638.31.42 / 0917.835.55.30 / www.francorp.com.ph or email [email protected]

Sam Christopher Lim is the CEO of Francorp Philippines; Co-author of 12 Strategies of Franchising; President of U-Franchise Sales & Management; and Director for ASEAN for the Philippine Franchise Association.

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