How do you create a franchise offering that really sells? Suzie McCafferty explains this is a question that perplexes both new and experienced franchisors alike
In franchising, marketability cuts both ways. Not only does a franchise’s offering have to be enticing for its customers but it has to be able to sell itself to potential franchisees. However, working out what will make a franchise a hit with potential franchisees isn’t always immediately obvious. Here are just a few of the things that help create a franchise that sells.
The long story
The first thing a franchise needs is longevity. If the business is built on a passing fad or fashion, it won’t be sustainable. The normal franchise term is five years but many are much longer. Stability is key for both parties – franchisees need to know that you will still be in business in ten or 15 years’ time. Prospects need to see some tangible proof that your organisation has a track record of success and this can be difficult for younger franchises. For this reason, it is vital that your pilot franchises are carefully managed so they give a true reflection of your business proposition.
It is important that you are able to effectively convey the culture and ethos of your company: who are the people behind the franchise? You want to create trust and transparency with prospective franchisees. It is important that you are approachable and willing to share information so make sure you have all the information at your fingertips to answer any questions a prospective franchisee might ask. Many deals have withered on the vine because a franchisor has taken too long to respond to a franchisee’s query.
One of the best forums to let prospects observe the company is at a discovery day. But this only works if it is done well and properly planned – there is huge potential here for things to go wrong and attendees go away with a bad impression of your organisation.
Whatever the product or service, sales are the lifeblood of the franchise and for this a strong brand is vital. Having a well-recognised national brand will help your franchisees market themselves more effectively and ultimately generate more revenue for both you and them.
On the operational front, it is important to streamline as many processes as possible in order to make the business easy to follow; would you prefer your franchisees to be selling or doing admin? Operational processes also need to be documented in as much detail as possible so that brand standards can be maintained and again make the business very simple to operate. Automate – or at least streamline – as many back office functions as you can so that franchisees can focus on the core business and not get bogged down in paperwork.
Pillar of support
Also think about what back office support services you can offer your franchisees over and above the standard telephone support. Are you willing to go the extra mile for franchisees? For example, if it is a premises-based franchise, are you geared up to help find suitable premises and introduce contacts for shopfitting? It really is all about giving franchisees the tools to hit the ground running, thereby reducing the set up time and helping them start generating revenues as quickly as possible.
Franchisees will only be as good as the training you provide for them. It is vital to offer a strong induction training programme to get franchisees off to a flying start. Thereafter, a relevant and ongoing support and training programme needs to be put in place to keep franchisees focused on success and business growth.
But creating a franchise that sells is only half the battle; if you sell to the wrong person it can still end up being a costly business. Having a robust recruitment strategy in place will ensure do you do not make expensive mistakes. Franchisee recruitment can be time consuming and costly but do not be tempted to cut corners – only recruit the best who want to hit the ground running.
Suzie McCafferty is managing director of Platinum Wave, the franchise consultancy.