Franchising can be a daunting undertaking if you’re new to the industry. So here are ten things franchisees should seek from their franchisor
Photo credit: Featureflash Photo Agency / Shutterstock.com
Different franchisors have different support structures but in my 25 years’ of experience there are key ingredients that are paramount in a franchise relationship. Here are the top ten.
First and foremost, you need direct access to the most senior management. Running your own business can be lonely and an open channel of communication is vital.
Successful businesses are planned and the franchisor should offer to work with you to create a business plan. It’s not the role of the franchisor to insist the franchisee prepares a business plan but rather is there to be used as a non-executive director. That can be a huge asset.
Creating a business plan is a good start but you should take advantage of regular one-to-one reviews with your franchisor. You must look at the business on a frequent basis, review key performance indicators and think about how to make improvements. Franchisees shouldn’t waste the opportunity to capitalise on the experience and intellect of the franchisor.
You should expect regular communication from the franchisor to keep the network up to date on new initiatives, tools, programmes and any changes or upgrades to the system – be it through email, the business intranet or newsletters.
Getting people together can do more to share best practice than any emails or newsletters. At the Bardon Group we have regular network meetings and encourage franchisees to attend each one to take advantage of new ideas and share experiences amongst colleagues.
Conferences work in a similar fashion – plus they’re also used to celebrate success. It’s important for the franchisor to take the lead in ensuring victories are recognised. It’s lonely out there so it’s important franchisee efforts are rewarded and recognised. Many franchisors take a hands-off approach to franchising, believing if the system is sound then personal interaction should be limited. I’m a massive champion of the opposite position. As a small business, there’s no one better to talk to than another small business owner – someone who understands the frustrations, recognises the effort needed and can both celebrate and counsel.
In order to keep the human touch and make myself personable, I go out of my way to make several one-to-one franchisee visits, often at least two days every week.
Although these personal visits are important, they shouldn’t detract from the essential operational support the franchisor has to provide. The business system remains the cornerstone of every successful franchise and needs constant updating and augmenting.
While marketing support is part and parcel of the core operational support, it’s worth a special mention. Most franchisees look to their franchisor to provide the collateral, tools, systems and programmes on an ongoing basis to ensure they have all the mechanisms to market their business. To this end I believe in friction-free marketing – that's provision of tools and programmes requiring minimal involvement from the franchisee, run centrally by the franchisor.
One of the key components of friction-free marketing is PR and it’s fitting that this is the tenth aspect of support a best practice franchisor should provide.
So, these are the ten things a franchisee should want – what they should really, really want from their franchisor. A healthy appreciation for the Spice Girls isn’t essential but should also be welcomed.