An ombudsman is a neutral, independent resource who provides informal, confidential assistance to help resolve concerns and complaints. The ombudsman works separately with the parties by discussing the issues and facilitating solutions.
A growing number of franchise systems have established their own independent franchise system ombudsman programs to identify and deal with issues at an early stage with the intent to resolve the issues prior to the initiation of litigation or social media. The process requires funding by the franchisor and a dedicated commitment by senior management as well as acceptance by franchisees. It frequently identifies systemic issues that can be dealt with before they become elevated. The ombudsman must be knowledgeable about the franchise system and experienced in both franchising and alternate dispute resolution. The process must be clearly defined and consistently followed.
Although the franchisor usually bears the cost of the program, the economic and business benefits of early dispute resolution through an ombuds process far outweigh the costs and potential consequences of litigation.
Frank has the experience, credentials and reputation to act as a private independent franchise system ombudsman. He can structure such programs to be on a full time basis or on an as-needed basis, and work with the franchisor to establish a periodic no-names reporting program to communicate the results of the program to the franchise network.