Investing time in networking and giving others a helping hand can pay dividends in the long run
Networking is a vital part of the development of almost all businesses. Those involved in franchising are no different and, if they are members of the bfa, they share a huge advantage. Franchisors regularly meet to discuss franchising issues and, although they share the common goal of recruiting suitable franchisees, this rarely conflicts with the greater benefit of sharing best practice and building their respective brands. They also network with industry professionals, such as banks and specialist franchising lawyers.
The bfa holds regular regional forums and specialist seminars, which provide ideal networking opportunities. It also includes a growing number of franchisee members who benefit from the chance to network at regional meetings. The goods and services offered by these businesses are incredibly diverse. It is almost always the case that mutually supportive arrangements can be established because of the natural affinity that exists between like-minded businesspeople.
But you don’t have to restrict your mutual support to other franchises; becoming part of a local business network group can also help spread the word about the service you offer. The ultimate aim is that your fellow members become your unpaid marketing team, actively gaining new business for you.
We all know that achieving word-of-mouth recommendations is the best way to win new business. Networking with like-minded people will help you achieve this important goal because they will be happy to refer your service to their clients and customers. The key to successful networking is to actively link with individuals who are looking to build relationships based on trust and mutual respect. Don’t get sucked into going to meetings just so you can be sold to: instead it is vital to embrace the opportunity to build relationships.
But networking doesn’t just benefit larger teams. One of the advantages of being in a franchise is that even if you operate as a sole trader, you are not alone: you still have the backing and support of the head office and fellow franchise owners. Networking can help you expand this support group so that you can enjoy the benefit of having a sounding board or someone you can share a problem with.
Sometimes when you are running a business it is easy to get bogged down with immediate concerns but it is very important to make time for the important long-term goals too. Networking falls in the latter camp. Forming and maintaining a strong circle of contacts will help you enjoy more opportunities. And remember: what goes around comes around.