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New beginnings and future franchising opportunities

Written by Eric Johansson on Friday, 19 January 2018. Posted in Analysis

Kicking off 2018 in style, we checked in with franchisors to hear about their achievements in 2017 and challenges they face in the year to come

New beginnings and future franchising opportunities

If there is one thing that encapsulates the beginning of a new year it’s the word possibility. Come New Year’s Day, whether you’re a franchisor or a franchisee you get a new chance to improve your business and yourself, to become You 2.0. At the same time, it’s a chance to reflect over the 12 months that went by, what you learned from them. Therefore we asked some well-known franchisors to share their thoughts as we head off into 2018.

Rik Hellewell, managing director and founder, Ovenu

What was your proudest achievement as a franchisor in 2017?

My proudest achievement was to present our brand plans for the future at a hotel in Adelaide to more than 30 franchisees in Australia in early September 2017. The icing on the cake here was that the vast majority had already seen significant benefits of using our new CRM system that we had introduced them to just over ten months beforehand.

What is your franchise’s biggest challenge in 2018?

Our biggest challenge through 2018 and beyond will be battling to continually decry and ridicule the ‘me also’ gang of copycat operations that promote themselves online. I find breaches of copyright almost daily and other examples of plagiarism that is rife on the internet. What’s even worse is that there seems to be little or no sensible way to prevent this.

What are your personal new year's resolutions this year?

My new year’s resolution is to get myself into a body shape that is different to my current one, which is round.

Tracy Townend and Jo Stone, co-founders, Puddle Ducks

What was your proudest achievement as a franchisor in 2017?

Tracy was unfortunately ill for much of 2016 and 2017 and we are incredibly proud that we still achieved all that we planned to do. That's because Jo was at the helm supported by an amazing team at Duck HQ. So our proudest achievement is that in the midst of a key person being out of the business for so long, Puddle Ducks has continued to go from strength to strength, including awarding six new franchise territories, supporting two big resales, implementing a new bespoke IT system, being shortlisted for the bfa HSBC Brand Innovation award and winning the EWIF Women Franchisor of the Year award. We are particularly proud of our franchisees Gary and Suzanne Horton who won the bfa HSBC Franchisee Innovation award.

What is your franchise’s biggest challenge in 2018?

In 2016 we started implementing a new bespoke software management system called Shark, which is now fully rolled out across the network. It uses ground-breaking payment technology and automates or improves many areas of our old IT system. Change can always bring challenges, so in 2018 it is to make sure that the new system pays dividends in terms of increasing customer numbers and reducing workload for franchisees. We have a forum of franchisees who vote and decide on what is the next enhancement that will be made. We think our franchisees will love it.

What are your personal new year’s resolutions this year?

Tracy’s personal resolution is, of course, to get better. She says: “Over the last 12 months I've thought a lot about the words in this quote: ‘God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and wisdom to know the difference.’ Believe it or not my resolution is, yes to get better, but to also work more. I know this may sound hard to believe but when you are ill you realise just what is important to you.

“I am back in the business and more involved day to day, something I fully intend to build on in 2018. Everyone has been so supportive, our head office team and all our franchisees, we really are a strong community who all help each other. I enjoy my work and the people I work with; I have missed them.”

Jo’s personal resolution is to continue to enjoy all the fabulous challenges that working as a franchisor provides. She adds: “Outside of work, I want to carry on doing swimming, running, cycling or pilates every day, keeping me stress-free and raring to go.”

Catherine Monson, global CEO, FASTSIGNS

What was your proudest achievement as a franchisor in 2017?

At FASTSIGNS, we’ve always prided ourselves on franchisee satisfaction. Of course, strong profit is very important for all franchisees but they also want exceptional service and support, to know that we’re listening and responding, helping them to build exceptional businesses.

We measure the satisfaction of our franchisees in four different ways. Two of these are internal surveys that ask franchisees to rate every single department of FASTSIGNS, with scores getting increasingly higher year-on-year. We also use two independent third parties to carry out our franchisee satisfaction research for us: Franchise Business Review and the Franchise Research Institute.

I’m delighted to say that, in 2017, the Franchise Research Institute has ranked us in the top 10% of world class franchises across all sectors and Franchise Business Review has named us as one of the top global franchise management teams.

All of this means we’re well positioned to continue supporting our franchisees, helping them to grow as we move into 2018.

What is your franchise’s biggest challenge in 2018?

The biggest challenge in 2018 will be the same in the UK as it in the US and that’s finding and keeping good employees.

We’re seeing a shift in demographics, so baby boomers for example are starting to age out, leaving a skills gap behind them. This labour shortage is only set to increase over the next decade. You can’t simply grow a crop of exceptional employees – they need training, nurturing and investment.

Therefore, we will focus on being fantastic employers and develop an enviable culture in 2018. We will be looking at new and engaging training programmes as we continue to expand our products and services, as well as bring in new technology. We will also look at expanding our range of training tools and we’re already working on mobile-based gamification to help engage and train new employees.

What are  your personal new year's resolutions this year?

Aside from the usual maintaining fitness and endurance, my biggest personal ambition is to become scuba-diving certified in 2018.
For a long time, I’ve had a fear of being underwater. During a recent trip to Hawaii, I thought I’d push my boundaries and try snorkeling, which I actually really enjoyed. There was still that initial panic when I put my face in the water but I was able to overcome it. I’m a big believer in facing fears head on, which is why I’ve set myself the challenge of being fully submerged with scuba diving.

It’s pretty much the same sentiment I apply to business – overcome your fears and push your boundaries.

About the Author

Eric Johansson

As web editor and resident Viking, Johansson ensures Elite Franchise is filled with engaging and eclectic entrepreneurial stories. While one of our most prolific franchise writers, he has sharpened his editorial teeth by writing about entertainment and fitness. Follow him on Twitter at @EricJohanssonLJ to catch up with his stream of consciousness.

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