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Franchisee Advice

Is It A Good Time To Invest In A Franchise Right Now?

Is now a good time to become a franchisee? And how should you identify a franchise that can weather an economic storm? Prithivan Pillay, Nedbank’s national manager for new business development shares his thoughts.

GG van Rooyen

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Vital Stats

  • Player: Prithivan Pillay
  • Company: Nedbank
  • Position: National Manager: New Business Development
  • Visit: www.nedbank.co.za

Given the state of the economy, is now a good time to invest in a franchise?

There is no doubt that people are nervous about the economy. Because of this they will obviously be hesitant to invest a large amount of money in anything, and franchising has certainly not been exempt from the current economic pressures. However, a franchise remains a solid investment. The industry is resilient, and the success rate for franchises remains at around 80%, which is far above the 20% success rate of a start-up.

What do you think of the state of our franchise sector?

South Africa boasts quite a mature franchise sector. Established and respected local franchisors generally have systems in place that are on par with international brands. I think this is evident from local franchises going into overseas markets. Nando’s is an excellent example. It has managed to carve a place for itself in very saturated markets, and that’s because the foundation of the business was sound.

Related: Nedbank Once Again To Provide Free Franchising Seminars

What do you think of the overseas brands that have come to South Africa over the last few years?

Some of these obviously represent great opportunities for prospective franchisees, but it is important to realise that a big international brand doesn’t guarantee success for everyone involved. A big overseas brand can still fail. And what proves popular overseas will not necessarily be popular here. Look at the frozen yoghurt market.

It is absolutely massive in the United States, but proved itself to be much smaller here. You can’t assume that the strength and recognisability of the brand will carry it through.

As a prospective franchisee, you need to make sure that the franchisor has done proper feasibility studies before plunging into the market.

What do banks look for when new franchisees approach them for finance?

As a general industry standard, a franchisee is expected to be able to provide 50% of the cost of a franchise in unencumbered capital. But this isn’t set in stone. For example, if someone is trying to finance their fourth or fifth franchise unit, they might not need 50% of the capital, since there is less risk on offering them finance.

Prithivan-Pillay-Nedbank

What are some of the common mistakes you see franchisees make when it comes to financing a business?

It is important to understand that the bank and the franchisor have very specific reasons for expecting 50% of the money in unencumbered capital. Gearing a business too aggressively is very risky. It is very difficult to make a success of a business and turn a profit if it is 100% financed.

It’s also important to remember that merely having the cash needed to buy a franchise is not enough. You will also need enough money to purchase stock, keep the business afloat and live off for a while. It can take a business a while to break even, and until then, you will need to be able to carry all costs.

How long does it typically take a franchise to break even?

That is difficult to say. It really depends on the nature of the business. Some break even within the first month, though most tend to take three to six months. Some can take as long as 18 months, though, so it’s important to have a very good idea of how long you’ll have to be able to carry expenses.

The prospective franchisee needs to speak to the franchisor and find out what the typical time to break-even is within the organisation.

How long does it typically take to see a return on investment?

Once again, it all depends on the nature of the business, but the average is around 36 months. What is worth keeping in mind is that many franchises will expect franchisees to refresh or revamp a store about four years after opening, so there is a high probability that you will need to put a lot of cash back into the business soon after seeing an ROI. You need to plan accordingly, as this can be an expensive process. A revamp can cost R1 million or more.

Related: Healthy Body20 Franchise Leads To Happy Hearts

What other advice do you have for franchisees?

Do your research. Don’t make any assumptions, and don’t just accept the word of the franchisor. Research the brand and find out who the directors of the franchise are, as it is important to know who the people are behind the business. Also, chat to existing franchisees. If eight out of ten grumble about the franchisor, there’s probably an issue in the organisation.

One should also do research on the larger industry. How saturated is the sector you’re trying to enter? A franchisor might allocate you a large area, but how many competing brands are already active in that area? Are there similar shops up and down the street? You need to be confident that there is real opportunity for your particular franchise to succeed in your area.

What about the financials of a store being purchased? How should a franchisee go about evaluating the numbers?

As a prospective franchisee, you should be provided with the financials of the business you want to purchase.

You should use this as a foundation to prepare your cashflow projections, ideally for three years. These financials together with your business plan can then be presented to your bank for assessment to determine the business’s viability.

How do you view the role of a bank within a franchise structure?

It’s in the interest of everyone involved — the franchisor, the bank and the landlord — to see the franchisee succeed. We are part of a chain of support that should be there to offer help if something goes wrong. If a business shows signs of distress, we want to help and see if the situation can be rectified.

What separates the great franchises from those that fail?

A lot of it comes down to systems and support. The whole point of buying into a franchise, after all, is to gain access to a proven business model, which means proven systems and support structures. Without those, you might as well open your own independent operation.

Great franchises are the ones that provide new franchisees with a lot of help and support, and have the systems in place to get new franchisees up and running with ease. Running a franchise organisation isn’t easy — there are a lot of functions involved — so you don’t want to buy into a small operation that’s being managed by a handful of people. They can’t possibly keep a handle on everything. You want to buy into an operation that has divisions focused on all the different functions associated with franchising, such as marketing and training.

Related: Xpress Operation On A Roll

What else should a franchisee expect of a franchisor?

A franchisor should have a solid understanding of the industry, and should be innovating and expanding at the corporate level. Don’t let the franchisor perform R&D inside your store. Concepts should be proven before they are rolled out to franchisees.

It’s always a good sign if the franchisor runs corporate-owned stores. By doing this, the organisation gains real insight into the issues franchisees deal with, and can also test new programmes before rolling them out to franchisees.

Remember this

Even though the success rate of a franchise is generally much higher than that of a start-up, it still doesn’t guarantee success. Not all franchises are created equal. It is important to do a lot of research before committing to a brand.

GG van Rooyen is the deputy editor for Entrepreneur Magazine South Africa. Follow him on Twitter.

Franchisee Advice

What To Know About Franchising Your Business

For many businesses, franchising is an excellent route to growth, opening up new opportunities and markets. Laurette Pienaar, National Franchise Manager at Nedbank, unpacks why it’s worth considering this route.

Nadine Todd

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laurette-pienaar

Vital Stats

  • Player: Laurette Pienaar
  • Position: National Franchise Manager
  • Company: Nedbank Limited
  • Visit: nedbank.co.za

What type of business is ideally suited to the franchise model?

Franchising has been proven successful across all industries, including the automotive, food, entertainment and retail industries. However, several key qualities ultimately determine a concept’s ability to successfully become a franchise.

Firstly, the business model must be scalable and able to be repeated in several locations. Secondly, there must be demand for the products sold and, thirdly, the franchise model must be proven as profitable.

Related: (Infographic) 7 Digital Marketing Strategies For Franchises

Why is franchising a good growth option?

Franchising is often used as a cost-effective growth strategy for businesses. A key benefit of this strategy is that no capital layout is required for a new franchised store as opposed to corporate-owned stores.

Franchised stores are also proven to be more successful than corporate-owned stores. This is mainly due to the fact that the franchise owners have a vested interest in the store, whereas corporate stores are supervised by a manager. Franchising is therefore also a great way to build your brand.

What should business owners focus on?

Franchisors should set up good infrastructure to support their franchisees, including good upfront and ongoing training to both the franchisees and their staff, the correct legal advice and assistance, and a strong operational team to assist franchisees daily.

Many successful franchisors provide support by expanding through vertical integration, which provides franchisees with logistics, supply chain security and product consistency.

Several franchisors advocate a structure with both franchisee and corporate-owned stores. This enables a franchisor to keep in touch with the daily challenges franchisees experience and new products and solutions can be tested at a corporate store before being rolled out to the franchise network.

How can franchising consultants assist business owners?

Franchise consultants provide daily operational support to franchisees. They are responsible for daily store visits to assist with quality checks, process flows, supplier relationships and, often, financial assessments. They are a helpful soundboard on any improvements to be made in the business model and can convey suggestions to the franchisor.

Related: The Secret Sauce To Great Franchise Leadership

What challenges should business owners be aware of?

Businesses looking to franchise need to ensure that their business is teachable to others. Overcomplicated products and systems may deter franchisees from investing in your brand.

Franchisors have to do ongoing introspection regarding their company culture. For example, does the culture promote innovation and inspire franchisees and consumers, which ultimately is a culture worth investing in?

New franchisors’ selection criteria for franchisees are often not sufficiently thorough and comprehensive. For a new franchisor, it is important to choose good quality franchisees and to have strict selection criteria to ensure that your brand remains reputable and stable during fast-expanding cycles.

What lessons can be learnt from SA’s successful franchises?

Businesses looking to expand through franchising should consider setting up several corporate-owned stores first. This assures potential investors that your business is based on a proven model with a track record and supportive infrastructure.

There is not always a one-size-fits-all model. Many franchisors have created custom models to accommodate and adjust to the need of a specific property or consumer market. A great example of this would be the food industry where many franchisors offer shopping centre concepts, drive thrus and kiosk or express concepts. Consider this when developing your model.

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Franchisee Advice

Develop Digital Marketing Competency In 3 Simple Steps

Conquering the digital revolution needn’t be daunting. Polish up your tech skills and watch your digital marketing prowess increase throughout your franchise.

Diana Albertyn

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As a franchisor, digital marketing may be proving to be a challenge due to the unique structuring of the business.

“The very nature of franchises is ‘structured’, however, when it comes to marketing, that structure often lacks,” says Marcela De Vivo, Founder and CEO of Gryffin Media.

Franchisors and franchisees often struggle to reach common ground when looking to achieve different marketing goals. While the franchisor needs to control the brand in its entirety, the franchisee wants to market their business using particular strategies suited to their location.

Research has found that smartphones are the biggest influencers of 82% of users when they make their in-store purchase decisions while. It’s for this reason that the importance of digital marketing for franchises has increased.

Here’s how to harness its power of influence, amplify foot traffic and solidify brand loyalty:

1. Recruit digital natives and early adopters

As much as you’re the leader of your franchise network, there are franchisees in your chain you could learn from. The global increase in millennial franchise owners means it is highly likely that you’ll be able to identify early digital adopters within your franchise network.

“The best people to learn from are those who have been in your shoes before,” says Matt Forman of the Franchise Centre at Griffith University.

“Encourage and support their efforts and use them as case studies to demonstrate to the rest of your franchisees the value of digital marketing, and how to do it right.”

2. Invest in training your team

“Each digital competency level requires more education and resources in order to integrate digital marketing with your physical stores,” says Forman. For this reason, regularly investing in continuous training for your team so as to ensure they keep abreast of any new and emerging trends.

Proactivity and adapting to the constantly evolving digital landscape led KFC to open a LinkedIn account for its founder and mascot Colonel Sanders. KFC’s out of the box tactic is a fresh approach to what has long been considered a B2B platform, under-utilised as a B2C platform.

3. Apply custom targeting techniques

The discovery of new and small businesses is being fuelled by Google searches, social media and online reviews, making these platforms a goldmine of invaluable tools.

Leveraging certain custom targeting techniques like easily searchable keywords and exposure on other reputable and high-traffic websites, gives your franchise’s digital marketing efforts a boost. This results in an effective campaign, favourable reviews and meaningful and lasting interactions with consumers “whether it’s a reply to a Facebook comment or a retweet,” says Entrepreneur’s Emily Conklin.

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Franchisee Advice

How To Hire Skilled Workers For Your Franchise

Your staff run your business – you just have to show them how. This is why employing the best people for the job is essential.

Diana Albertyn

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According to the Franchise Association of South Africa (FASA) 2017 Franchisor Survey, one of the main challenges facing franchisees is finding the right staff.

“Staffing your franchise can be one of the most challenging parts of running a successful business. Without a great team of employees, you cannot run your business effectively,” says Saxon Marsden-Huggins, founder of WebRover.

These three tips could help you find the best employees for your franchise outlet:

1. Don’t hire in haste

While you may be rearing to go and keen to fill gaps to speed up profitability, research your candidates thoroughly.

Related: Insights On Recruitment That Could Affect Franchise Performance

As the job applications keep flowing into your inbox, keep in mind that not all of them qualify for the positions available – it may even be a small percent who are actually viable candidates. This is why your hiring process should include:

  • Taking the time to thoroughly screen CVs to develop a short list
  • Creating a carefully crafted list of interview questions
  • Setting aside adequate time for thorough interviews
  • Getting to know the candidates through a second round of interviews to confirm your choice.

Giving the hiring process dedication and attention will ensure you get the cream of the crop, contributing to the long-term success of your franchise.

2. Demonstrate support in the workplace

While you can instil the necessary skills into new recruits, it’s difficult to train for culture. This is why choosing the right employees from the beginning will make the rest of your franchise management system will run more smoothly.

“The manner by which you run the franchise will influence employee perceptions of the brand as well,” says Hireology’s Erin Borgerson. “Your staff must become ambassadors of your franchise system to attract the target consumer market.”

The best way to do this is encouraging staff to give you their honest feedback. Your commitment to creating and upholding a positive culture will result in increased loyalty from your current staff and a superior pool of applicants.

Related: 3 Things You Should Consider Before Buying Your First Franchise

3. Offer appealing incentives

When advancement opportunities are clearly communicated, staff is keen to hear how they can get there, as they have career goals of their own. Encouraging this ambition will draw good employees to your franchise.

“Helping employees understand the steps to advancement helps them to view their current job as an important part of a career with an upward path, not just a pay cheque for this week,” say financial reporting technology experts at Qvinci.

Performance bonuses and employee benefits incentivise staff’s efforts, therefore increasing their income alongside the profit of the business. “This serves to make employees a part of the business and not merely people ‘who work there’,” they explain.

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