Planning for growth or hoping for it? 

Navigating through these uncharted and rather choppy waters, one could be forgiven if growth wasn’t one of the highest priorities in the business plan

Planning for growth or hoping for it? 

Given the never-ending storms that have battered businesses over the past several years and the focus for many on how to best navigate through these uncharted and rather choppy waters, one could be forgiven if growth wasn’t one of the highest priorities in the business plan or a focus in your team’s discussions.  I sometimes hear the following from business owners when I ask them about their growth plan; “I just need to get through the next few months and then I will think about growth”, or, “I just need to focus on this one part of my business and then I will think about growth.”  In the past few years there have been so many things that have had the potential to derail a real emphasis on growth but if you aren’t actively planning for growth right now then there really is no easy way to say this, you are only hoping it will happen. 

We have been fortunate that the cleaning industry has exploded coming out of the pandemic and Brexit (a combination of which has meant demand for housecleaning is greater than the supply) but favourable conditions on their own won’t produce growth – what does, is putting growth at the forefront of the planning process.  

Start with a short-term forecast of the conditions in your market and what Franchisees will be experiencing

For the past four years our business planning process has started with a prediction of what our Franchisees would be experiencing throughout the year, with a real emphasis on the first three to six months.  We focus on what will be happening with our current customers, demand from new customers and the employment situation.  These are the three critical factors that influence growth for Franchisees, so if we have a rough idea of what may happen (It’s by no means perfect let me assure you) then we can develop initiatives to help Franchisees achieve growth.

This process has led to a number of new initiatives including;

  • The Best Employer in Housecleaning branding to help drive more employment leads.
  • Paid Search booster campaign which paid for an increase in the paid search budget for all Franchisees – funded entirely by ourselves – to drive more customer enquiries.
  • Early January National Awards Meeting with Franchisees to help inspire and motivate them to get off to the strongest start to the year.
  • And in 2024, our 40 stories celebrating our 40th anniversary in business social media campaign to increase engagement with potential customers and staff.
  • Use incentives to reward sales growth

Who doesn’t like a trip with friends and colleagues to celebrate their success?  Of course the answer is everyone, which is why part of our growth plan every year is a sales incentive that rewards Franchisees and their spouse or partner with a long weekend city break (we modelled it on Rick Stein’s Long Weekends).  Over the past few years destinations have included Venice, Athens, Rome, Seville and this year, Porto.  Sales incentives allow us to set a stretch sales target for Franchisees to strive for and a well-earned reward for their hard work when it is achieved.  

Communicate, communicate, communicate

As we learned in the pandemic, you can never communicate too much.  We’ve partnered with Meta and use their Workplace software to communicate with our Franchisees.  Workplace is essentially Facebook but for your company, which means it comes with pretty much all of the functionality Facebook provides.  One of the best elements is the video functionality which easily allows us to produce short videos (less than 5 minutes) with Franchisees on various topics including how they are achieving growth.  Franchisees can download the Workplace app to their phone making it easy to view this content whenever they want.  

Invest in growth

There is no doubt that the above programmes, as well as many others, have required significant sums of money.  But we look at this as an investment in growth not only in the current year, but well into the future.  Of course when you talk about investment you also have to look at the ‘return’ and having more Franchisees achieve weekly sales milestones than we have ever had, seeing Franchisees double and triple their pre-Covid sales, and achieving new annual sales records the past three straight years, are the ‘returns’ that show these investments are more than paying off.

Putting the Growth of our Franchisees businesses at the forefront of our planning process is perhaps the most important aspect of our role as a Franchisor because growth helps Franchisees generate higher profits, making their business more valuable, and it’s just a lot more fun for them when their business is growing, then when it isn’t.

This article is brought to you by Kevin Hipkins, the President and CEO of Molly Maid UK, the most well-known name in the domestic cleaning industry and at Number 9 in the 2024 Elite Franchise 100, is the highest ranked domestic cleaning franchise. 

 For more information about Molly Maid, contact Aaron Watson, [email protected] or visit their social media channels Facebook   Instagram  Linked In

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