All franchises hinge on a symbiotic relationship between franchisee and franchisor. Yes, franchisors are typically seen in a superior role to a single franchisee, but the network of different franchise locations are what allow the brand as a whole to thrive.

Think of it like the link between a shark and a school of pilot fish swimming beneath its fins. The pilot fish feed off the bacteria growing on the shark's body, keeping it healthy. Similarly, franchisees give profit to franchisors to maintain the business. In return, the shark provides the pilot fish with protection from other animals in the sea. For franchisees, a franchisor's clout and business acumen along with resources help small chains stay competitive in local markets. Franchisors depend on their franchisees and vice versa.

How can these two franchise forces enhance the quality of their relationship by improving their end of the bargain?

Now that's one fearsome franchise. Now that's one fearsome franchise.

Franchisees must try before they deny
If a franchise is anything, it's a tried-and-true system of operation, proven through its successes. The International Franchise Association recently reported franchises are currently a $521 billion industry.

That said, nobody's perfect, and part of a franchisee's job is to demonstrate the efficacy of new practices. In a certain way, franchisees are at the brand's frontier. Complacency isn't an option – while a single location might be happy with the way things are, franchises in other places might be struggling. And chances are, if an issue is endemic enough, it could eventually bring turbulence to franchises with smooth sailing.

Franchisors have an obligation to protect their interests by requesting changes to the business model. Franchisees who don't want to change shouldn't see this as an order, but rather a new possibility. The sooner franchisees adapt, the sooner they can report back to headquarters about whether the idea worked.

"Take a step toward greater transparency by setting up a franchise-wide intranet forum."

Franchisors must open up lines of communications every way they can
Though the flow of information between the two should always be bidirectional, it's up to the franchisor to keep communication strong. According to the Franchise Relationships Institute, not only can dialog be therapeutic for airing concerns and notifying management of policy changes, but if done correctly, franchisors can more adeptly control how franchisees communicate with each other. Facilitating discussions can ensure conduct is upheld and the right information reaches the right people.

Take a step toward greater transparency by setting up a franchise-wide intranet forum. Employees can congregate in a monitored setting and even use the service as a resource for looking up pertinent information regarding how the franchise operates. That way, workers and managers can take it upon themselves to discover what matters most to them, rather than rely on word "handed down on high."

Equipment and franchise industry piece brought to you by Marlin Equipment Finance, a nationwide provider of commercial lending solutions for small and mid-size businesses. Marlin's equipment financing and loan products are offered directly to businesses, and through third party vendor programs, which include manufacturers, distributors, independent dealers and brokers in the security, food services, healthcare, information technology, office technology and telecommunications sectors.