An ombudsman program serves many functions:
- Active listening – many disputes will resolve themselves simply by providing an independent third party who is available to listen;
- Understanding the issues for solving the problem;
- Discussing options – minimal problem solving may be all that is necessary;
- Negotiation a good starting point – facilitates meaningful discussions;
- Shuttle diplomacy – serving as the intermediary bringing ideas to the table without the "heat" that often accompanies disputes;
- Elegant solutions – seeks out innovative approaches to resolving disputes;
- Change agent – helps organizations look at the root causes of the issues that caused the dispute and provides a basis to avoid those disputes in the future.
The ombudsman acts as an impartial source of assistance in the resolution of disputes. For the process to work, the Ombudsman must enjoy the fullest support and confidence of both the franchisor and the franchisee. The Ombudsman should be viewed as an impartial specialist in dispute resolution, a neutral resource who provides confidential and informal assistance to resolve the dispute.
Unlike Mediation requiring both parties to participate he Ombudsman process can also be accessed by one party either the franchisee or franchisor, especially in the early stages. It is quite common for one side to request the Ombudsman assistance, best case scenario both sides are willing to dialogue but when that’s not possible the Ombudsman can often work with one side to resolve the matter in an innovative manner.
A frequently adopted mission statement for the ombudsman is "to provide a confidential, neutral, independent and informal process that facilitates fair and equitable resolution of disputes."
“Talking to you helped me to make the right decision and I appreciate your guidance." ~ IFA Franchisee