Understanding the rules of engagement

Nigel Toplis offers a quick guide on the different responsibilities faced by the franchisee and franchisor.

Understanding the rules of engagement

Nigel Toplis offers a quick guide on the different responsibilities faced by the franchisee and franchisor.

It is not the franchisor’s responsibility to run your business. However, it is certainly their responsibility and duty to provide you with a proven business system. This will include tried and tested processes and methodologies.

It is also down to the franchisor to support the franchisee in key business disciplines. This includes training, sales, marketing, procurement, plus much, much more. You would also expect the franchisor to be a guide and a mentor.

However, the franchisee remains the business owner for the territory they have signed up to. Therefore, when you buy into a franchise, it is not an excuse to remove yourself from the responsibility of running the business. If the business fails you cannot simply blame the franchisor, and nor can you put the onus to build a successful enterprise on to someone else.

So, with the knowledge that it is not the franchisor’s responsibility to run the business for you, how does the franchisee approach life as a new business partner? First of all, you need to build on what the franchisor has given you. If you want to become well known in your own community it is your responsibility to carry out as much local networking as possible.

There is a plethora of opportunities waiting out there for you, such as the BNI (Business Network International), BRE (Building Research Establishment) and 4-Networking, as well as the long-established Chamber of Commerce, Women in Business and other local enterprise clubs.

Networking will help to raise awareness of both you and your business. If you can secure at least three referrals from each event, then the power of networking will certainly assist you in building a strong customer base.

I am a great believer in ‘walking the patch’ and ‘smelling’ out prospective customers. The closer I become to a customer, the more I start to understand them and, therefore, the better chance I have of doing business with them. So you have little choice but to ‘get down’ and ‘get dirty’.

The British are a stoic breed when it comes to asking for assistance. We tend to just keep plugging away hoping to eventually solve any problems that we have. Yet something we should do more often is to ask for referrals. Not seemingly an easy thing for Brits to do, but it will boost your profile in the world of business.

As for networking, we need to ask friends and family, as well as existing customers and suppliers, to provide us with the contact details of one or two other people. Not just any old details, but for those who our friends believe would benefit from knowing about our existence – and what our business has to offer them.

Business is about getting personal with your customers, and then building relationships. This is something the franchisor just can’t do – especially at a local level. But you certainly can, and you must.

If you want to make an impact with customers, then you have to get noticed. This may mean marketing them directly and building an intimacy by sending something which may appeal to them personally.

Personalised promotional products are potentially a key weapon in retaining or attracting customers. We might send, or hand deliver, a gift that is personal to our customer. This provides us with an opportunity to make that customer feel special. The product could be a mug with the customer’s name on it, or even a long-lasting durable pen, or a pair of cufflinks inscribed with a personal emblem.

Whatever the chosen product, the most important aspect is the intimacy you gain with the customer. You are perfectly placed to build a personal relationship with your customer or even a prospective one.

All of the tips mentioned in this article are tasks which need to be carried out by the franchisee themselves – and not the franchisor. They have their own responsibilities regarding the building of their business. Teamwork creates a successful business, and all components need to know and understand their own personal responsibilities for achieving this.

Nigel Toplis
Nigel Toplis