Often when support is mentioned in franchising, we think of prospective or new franchisees who need help navigating the complexities of business ownership. However, behind every great franchise are many established franchisees who expertly execute your model every day. No matter how successful and self-sufficient these franchisees are, their ongoing development is still a priority, and their accomplishments should never go unnoticed. In the mind of Kevin Thackrah, Director of Petpals, recognising and maintaining the success of established franchisees is more pivotal than ever in the competitive world of franchising. Here, he shares how, with his 20+ years with the Petpals brand, he has found the perfect formula to not only support his new franchisees, but also create an environment which allows his established franchisees to thrive.
Ongoing support should cover everyone
The end of the training period is just the start of your franchisee’s journey with the business, so it shouldn’t be the end of your assistance. Whatever the size of the business, the back-up and support franchisees receive from their franchisor should be the same. From the initial launch to ongoing marketing and PR, a modern website, social media and regular in-territory visits, an experienced franchisor will be able to help and support a franchisee to grow their business to the size they desire. Have a think about the last time you or a member of your management team chatted with one of your longest-serving franchisees. If you can’t think of when that was, in my opinion, you need to get on the phone or arrange a visit. I have some franchisees who have been a part of the Petpals brand for longer than I have. Platforms like digital sales are relatively new but have become vital in the world of franchising. Therefore, supporting your established franchisees in areas like Facebook marketing and Google SEO should be a key issue for you to address as part of your ongoing support.
Keep the network linked
Encouraging a culture of sharing means your established franchisees will encounter exciting new techniques. Events like an annual conference create a sense of community in your network and encouraging an active franchise forum, offering time out of the daily operations to share and contribute to the wider franchise. I often find many of my most experienced members of the network gain the most from these days. We like to encourage continuous training in our network. An example of this can be found in the support and training of accounting systems such as Quickbooks. Not everyone has the skills to move from spreadsheets to cloud-based accounting systems, so this training not only helps franchisees manage their businesses, but it is also necessary as HMRC implement Making Tax Digital.
Don’t lose your value
If you ever get to the point where you’re not offering a franchisee anything, you’ll lose them. We continue to invest in both marketing and PR support as well as financial and business management to ensure that we can continue to give our franchisees the best resources for their growth.. We are also very passionate about supporting our franchisees with their aspirations and one of our most successful franchisees has recently joined the head office team as Head of Brand Development. Having already built his franchise location to a multi-unit management model, and, as part of his own development he’s now contributing in a wider way to our network.
To improve our overall franchise offering and support and have also introduced a franchisee led Focus Group and conduct regular surveys allowing the franchisees to share their opinions and voice their thoughts on issues that are important to them. We believe that we are stronger as a collective force rather than as individuals.
Put simply, if you do not continuously develop your franchisees, you will be left behind. There are hundreds of amazing franchise opportunities available in the UK, and you must do your utmost to support everyone in your network, so your brand continues to be seen as a leader in the franchise industry. Otherwise, there is a danger you will lose the people who have done so much to make your franchise brand unique.