Networking is an integral part of the franchising model. It serves as an effective way for a franchisor to connect with a wide range of individuals who may be interested in your product, your business model, or who may not know about the world of franchising at all. With the rise of digital networking, it is easy to overlook the importance of face-to-face interactions. While digital networking can provide new opportunities, meeting individuals in person fosters more robust and enduring relationships.
Every aspect of a franchise business benefits from strong external relationships. By establishing connections and nurturing these relationships, franchisors can identify prospects who are a good fit for their franchise and work to bring them into the franchise system. Networking can build trust and credibility and provide an opportunity to learn more about the goals and interests of both franchisees and franchisor.
Here, Andy Knights, CEO of Stagecoach Performing Arts, shares his advice on how franchisors can use networking as a tool to raise awareness of franchising, and he sheds light on the franchise-specific networking strategies that are beneficial for all.
Mastering networking is a crucial business skill in the franchise industry. Cultivating a network of professional peers is essential for career success and can provide a competitive advantage in various stages of the entrepreneurial process. Franchisors utilise networking to improve lead-generation and sales strategies, while prospective franchisees can establish valuable contacts to aid in the development and management of a successful business operation.
Networking is not a matter of quality over quantity. It is not about how many people you meet but rather the quality of the connections you make. One key goal should be established before attending or organising a networking event. For Stagecoach Performing Arts, this was to educate audiences about franchising. Attending regional and national events focusing on your industry is a great way to achieve this goal.
By attending and delivering a talk at the Music & Drama Education Expo in London, Stagecoach was able to connect with over 2,500 visitors. Teachers and practitioners had a unique opportunity to get together, exchange ideas, and discuss challenges. It was also a chance to communicate Stagecoach’s franchise opportunity to those interested in the prospect of joining a franchise and to those who are unsure about how franchising works. It is important to focus on networking as a collaborative, relationship-building exercise rather than just a way to find potential franchisees. Referrals are central to networking, and building strong relationships can lead to valuable referrals down the line. Networking is about making meaningful connections and establishing relationships that benefit both parties.
One of the keys to successful networking is preparation. Before attending an event, it is important to research who you may be meeting and tailor your communication to them. This will help you make a more meaningful connection and increase the chances of building a long-lasting relationship. Connecting on LinkedIn before the event and arranging meetings can also help you make the most of your time at the event. By doing this, you can schedule meetings with individuals who are interested in learning more about your franchise or may be potential franchisees.
For Stagecoach, events such as the Move It Expo are being used to educate audiences about the opportunities available, from student classes to teacher training and qualifications, as well as teaching jobs and how to become a franchisee.
When networking, the goal is to establish relationships and identify potential franchisees who are a good fit for the franchise system. However, the real work begins after the event is over. Franchisors need to stay in touch with their contacts to nurture the relationship and keep the lines of communication open. By following up after a networking event, franchisors can remind their contacts of the franchise opportunity and continue to provide them with valuable information. It also helps to build trust and credibility with the contact, which can lead to a long-term business relationship. Franchisors who are diligent in following up will be better positioned to identify the right franchisees and support them throughout their entrepreneurial journey, benefiting everyone involved.