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Building Franchise Websites

A look at how to use the web to further your franchise business.

Kay Marie Ainsley

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Websites can be an important addition to any franchise system, providing consumers with information about the company’s products and services as well as introducing potential new franchisees to the opportunity. Similarly, franchisee websites enable franchisees to provide potential customers with basic information like the business’s location, hours of operation and contact information.

Franchisees often provide additional information, such as personnel information, community involvement, awards the franchisee may have won, products and services they have available, and specials the customer may be interested in. Consumers like franchisee websites and are more likely to visit those websites that update their information frequently as they look for specials, new products and other information.

Website Options

Franchisors have several options in establishing websites for each of their locations. They can:

  • Let franchisees establish websites independently and without any specific guidelines.
  • Let franchisees establish websites individually but provide them with templates and guidelines so that the sites have a more uniform appearance and content.
  • Develop and maintain websites for all their locations.

Pros and Cons

There are some advantages and disadvantages to each approach.

1. Independent Websites

Franchisees often develop independent websites for their businesses when their franchisor has not established any policies for the system or provided them with any guidance on methods for establishing websites. In some franchise systems, the lack of leadership from a franchisor in providing methods for franchisee websites has created a vacuum that franchisees feel needs to be filled, and they move independently to get their own consumer message on the Internet.

Websites that are developed by franchisees without any guidelines or controls by the franchisor are the least attractive option for franchisors, for a host of reasons:

  • It can make it difficult for consumers and potential franchisees to find the franchisor’s website since search engines may direct individuals to franchisee sites due to confusion over the use of the franchisor’s trademarks in domain names and metatags.
  • It can make it difficult for franchisors to provide links to and from the system’s main websites due to content and inconsistencies on the franchisee sites.
  • It has the potential to dilute the system’s brand message because of variations in website content.
  • It has the potential to negatively impact the business at the system’s brick-and-mortar location due to poor e-commerce activities conducted by the individual locations.
  • If franchisees are not careful, independent websites may contain information that jeopardises trade secrets and copyrighted material. Also, the use of customer information can cause privacy concerns.
  • Independent websites may contain unexpected links or advertising that could include information about competitors or other service providers that may be inappropriate. These could include auction sites, discounters, consolidators or even competitive web directories.

Overall, independent websites that are developed without any guidelines or control can be problematic for both franchisors and each of the franchisees. Should franchisees choose to provide information that truly differentiates them from others in the system based on price or services, there is the risk of intrabrand competition that can be very damaging to the brand consistency that franchisors work hard to maintain. Also, if franchisees begin to offer unrestricted Internet sales there is an increase in the risk of territorial disputes between franchisees since sales from one location may take place in another franchisee’s territory. Also, research shows that poorly performing Internet sales activity has a negative impact on how the brick-and-mortar locations are viewed by the public — and this can impact overall system sales.

When they have the ability, franchisors are likely to avoid franchisee independent sites that are set up without any policies or controls and will use one of the other methods available.

2. Websites Developed by Franchisees Using Templates

Franchisee-developed websites that use franchisor-provided templates and content guidelines solve many of the problems that can be found in independent websites while securing most of the benefits for the franchisor and franchisee. Unfortunately, since these sites are still developed and maintained by each franchisee, there are still some issues that franchisors and franchisees need to address.

  • Since each site is developed and maintained individually, and given the potential number of sites that have to be monitored by a franchisor, there is a high cost of reviewing each site and monitoring changes made by franchisees to the content, format, scripts and even spelling that may appear on the site.
  • With the number of sites that need to be monitored and the ability of franchisees to make frequent changes to their sites, the risk that the franchisor may miss errors and the potential that problems will not be identified is high.
  • Personalisation of the site by the franchisee, even using a uniform template, can still cause conflict with the brand’s consistency and chain image.
  • Monitoring franchisee sites can also cause relationship problems with franchisees. Because franchisees will be in control of the content and frequency of changes to the websites, there are likely to be frequent discussions and often negotiations with franchisees over the format and content of their sites. This is unlikely to be the best use of either of their time. Also, many of the other risks associated with trade secrets, metatags, consumer privacy, intra-brand competition and Internet sales can still cause problems for the system.

3. Websites Developed by Franchisor

For most franchisors and franchisees, the best option is likely to be for the franchisor to develop and maintain sites centrally for each of its locations since this provides the best control over the format and look of the sites and their content. The advantages:

  • By developing and maintaining sites for the entire system, the franchisor and franchisees can be assured that each site will have a consistent look and feel. The brand messages are protected.
  • The websites will contain information about each location, and franchisees will be able to update their information periodically by providing changes to the franchisor.
  • Consumers will be able to access the franchisee’s site through links on the franchisor’s site because of consistent  use of domain names and metatags.
  • Potential franchisees will be able to access information about the system quickly.
  • Linkage to and from franchisee sites will be uniform and consistent, as will on-site links and advertising.
  • Franchisees are protected from the risk of online activities of other franchisees, and there is a reduced risk of territorial risks from e-commerce.
  • Trade secrets, copyrighted material and trademarks are protected, and there is a reduction in the risks associated with consumer privacy and other issues.
  • Consumer feedback to the system can be facilitated.

One of the negative issues associated with a franchisor developing individual sites for franchisees is that they are expensive to set up and maintain. Additionally, franchisees may wish to personalise and localise the content of their web pages to a greater extent than allowed by the franchisor. Finally, because of the volume of changes to franchisee sites, the franchisor’s ability to modify the sites will be slower than if each franchisee were making their own modifications.

Customers First

While many of the older franchise agreements may not clearly provide franchisors and franchisees with specific information about each party’s rights, it is important for franchisors and franchisees to keep the customer in focus. Websites should serve customers first by understanding how consumers want to shop and what information consumers need to make their buying decisions. Disputes that impact what has traditionally been the backbone of franchising’s success – brand consistency – need to be avoided. What we have learned from some of the recent disputes in franchising regarding franchisee and franchisor rights in e-commerce activities is that the only party that wins from these kinds of disputes is the competitor.

Company Posts

Spur’s Got A Taste For Success

With eight brands across five countries, the Spur Corp’s secret sauce to success has all the best ingredients — most importantly, its franchisees. Sacha du Plessis, Group Marketing Executive at Spur Corporation, explains the company’s 51-year journey in creating some of the most popular places to eat the world over.

Nedbank Franchising

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What is the biggest contributor to Spur’s success?

Since the beginning, we’ve made an unwavering commitment to run restaurants that are operated by entrepreneurially-minded owners who put the customer first. Customer satisfaction is one of Spur Corporation’s most important value drivers, we partner with people who ensure we retain and grow a loyal customer base. We seek to work with franchisees who take pride in the training of their staff and prepare food with passion.

This mindset has been alive for over 50 years in our staff and franchisees.

Please share some of the challenges Spur encounters as a franchisor?

We have a sizable franchise network and a big priority is to ensure that we meet customers’ expectations in every single franchise they visit. Another challenge is finding the best franchisees to partner with, people who are aligned with our company values and customer orientation.

In terms of growth, it is sometimes challenging to find the correct locations per brand and to ensure the rental is at a level where it’s sustainable for the franchisee. The management of our marketing communication to ensure we remain relevant and distinctive in an ever changing landscape can also be a challenge.

Related: A Three-Pronged Approach To Franchise Success

Name a few of the qualities you look for when selecting franchisees?

Our business was built on a highly focused customer orientation and centred on a love for food. Our franchisees need to be focused on the customer: Pleasing the customer, meeting the customers’ needs and being willing to spend large amounts of time in growing a business that essentially is the hospitality industry and is really about people. Our franchisees are people who have an appreciation for, and love, food as well as serving their local community over and above their product.

Why is Spur a solid investment for entrepreneurs seeking to pursue franchising?

We’ve invested greatly in growing our brand over a long period of time. Spur was founded by our Executive Chairman Allen Ambor in the spirit of entrepreneurship. Over the past 51 years, we’ve built a track-record of comprehensive operational, finance, marketing, IT, training, procurement, distribution and development support. Our marketing approach grows sustainable brands in a considered and well researched manner.

Our customer scope is broad, so while our main brands are focused on the wider South African market, we also have niche brands. This track record reassures the franchisee and broader market about Spur Corporation’s credibility.

What kind of support can a franchisee expect when joining Spur?

Franchisees can tap into expertise that’s been built up over five decades. We provide franchisees with the most effective tools to help manage and sustain their businesses successfully. Our operational support is wide-reaching and includes access to procurement, development, logistical as well as IT support. Skills development is one of the most important ways in which Spur Corporation supports its franchisees to run successful businesses.

Marketing support enables franchisees to actively identify opportunities and get assistance in developing and implementing bespoke marketing plans for each restaurant. Most importantly, when a franchisee joins Spur Group he or she gets access to cutting-edge management know-how from an experienced team of people who are passionate about our business.

Related: Nedbank’s Full Service Offering for Franchise Owners 

Why is it important for successful franchises such as yours to have a strong banking partner and how does it benefit the franchisee?

Buying into a brand is a substantial investment for a franchisee, so they need a banking partner that will help with financial planning and running the business. Nedbank has built relationships with franchisees while helping to open and maintain their businesses.

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Company Posts

Muscle And Grill Is Your Daily Chef. We Provide Fresh, Nutritional Food At Affordable Prices

It isn’t always easy to stay in tune with both body and mind. We do all the prepping for you so that you can keep up your pursuit of greatness.

Muscle and Grill

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Vital stats

Muscle and Grill is a healthy fast food establishment based in South Africa. In the face of modern South Africa, lives spent on the go require a fuel to match their aspirations while maintaining a delicious, fast and fresh service.

As our lives swirl into life’s vast depths of opportunity, our bodies are often the product of poor health habits, while trying to keep on the move to achieve our goals. Muscle and Grill challenges this. We want to be able to support the South Africa of tomorrow by offering the food your body needs to keep reaching new heights – to keep pushing the boundaries of accomplishment with health food convenience.

At Muscle and Grill we’ve got you covered. We provide nutritional fast food that is fresh and affordable. We have your health at heart. You could start your day off with some free-range scrambled eggs or fresh oats – for lunch a mixed bowl of rice, protein and fresh vegetables – or to round off your day, replenish your mind and body with a hearty health-infused burger and all its wholesome goodness. We have not forgotten that home constitutes a hungry family who have all been active, so grab a lean beef pasta salad with some greens on the side to go.

Related: SA Fast Food Franchising On The Rise

It isn’t always easy to stay in tune with both body and mind. We do all the prepping for you so that you can keep up your pursuit of greatness.

About us

It was once said that great ideas are born from ones’ frustrations. That is exactly how Muscle and Grill came about. Having no real on-the-go option to stay healthy, or having the time to prepare to be healthy, became a huge frustration for us. We struggled to find enough hours in the day to keep up with a busy lifestyle and still eat healthy while on the move. Our work came first and our lifestyles suffered.

The vision for Muscle and Grill is to make it possible to stay healthy on the go. We want healthy food to be easily accessible for all walks of life.

Our mission is to provide quality, healthy fast-food. The food we provide is delicious and will keep you coming back for more.

Concept

muscle-and-grill

Muscle and Grill works on an almost self-service basis. The point of sale system is customer operated where you can select what meal you would like to have. Once payment has been processed electronically the kitchen staff will receive the order and prepare it to spec. Muscle and Grill will be a completely cashless business, making it super-efficient for consumers and business owners.

Related: 3 Crucial Considerations For New Multi-unit Franchisees

The concept of Muscle and Grill is partnered with Puré Frooty. Puré Frooty is a self-service smoothie bar which prepares smoothies for you at the touch of a button. You can have a store with or without a machine – the choice is yours. Both concepts look to promote the idea of healthy living on the go.

We’ve looked to compliment our values by looking after that which grounds us. Our packaging and utensils are all eco-friendly, as we believe ‘going-green’ is not just a choice of eating but of the environment too.

So, when you are ready to join the next revolution in the fast food industry contact Muscle and Grill at info@muscleandgrill.co.za or visit the website at www.muscleandgrill.co.za to inquire on our franchise options today. Achieve your goals, stay on the move and look after yourself through Muscle and Grill.

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Company Posts

Nando’s Is Firing Up The East

Carlos Duarte has been part of the Nando’s brand since inception. When his brother Fernando co-founded the flamed grilled chicken brand in 1987, Carlos soon participated in its success and today owns four highly successful franchises in Johannesburg — three in the east and one in the south. Here’s how it all began.

Nedbank

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Vital Stats

  • Player: Carlos Duarte
  • Franchise: Nando’s
  • Position: Franchisee
  • Visit: www.nandos.co.za

What were you doing before becoming a franchisee?

I was in the audio visual technology field, as an employee. Then I joined Nando’s as an assistant manager in the Savoy and Rosettenville corporate stores. Franchising was my first experience of entrepreneurship.

Why did you decide to become a franchisee?

When my brother, Fernando Duarte, launched Nando’s in 1987, I noticed its quick growth and wanted in on the action. Being assistant store manager prepared me for when the opportunity to run my own store came along soon after.

What prompted you to partner with Nando’s?

I joined Nando’s in 1991 as a joint venture partner. At the time, Nando’s hadn’t yet franchised its operations, and the JV partnership meant the brand owned 51% of the business, while I owned 49%. My first franchise store was in Edenglen in 2001.

Related: (Watch) Why Nando’s Is Clucking Its Way To The Top

Describe some of the challenges of running not one, but four franchise locations

At the Edenglen store, we initially battled with sales and getting feet into the store. To be honest, I think the area was overtraded at the time, so it wasn’t the best location. Since acquiring the store in Lambton, Germiston, another in Greenstone and a third in Comaro, I’ve learnt to be cleverer in how I do things — and how I handle some of the same challenges — and learn every day from the brand itself.

Name some of the benefits you’ve experienced as a Nando’s franchisee

Nando’s is 31 years old this year. We’re in 30-odd countries worldwide with thousands of stores across the globe. As franchisees, we leverage off the dynamism of an operational business that’s known for its marketing — customers talk about our ads and they love our food.

What kind of support do you receive from Nando’s as a multi-unit franchisee?

Besides the popular marketing campaigns that attract customers, Nando’s has an extensive training manual along with a skills development training consultant who comes to the store for two days to help staff understand and implement it. The training is really effective — it has to be as this industry involves a very high turnover of staff and new skills need to be taught often.

Why is it important for a franchisee to have a good banking partner?

As a franchisee, your bank should understand your business — from operating costs, to overdraft needs and revamping expenses — so it has cash available for loans that can be approved quickly, with minimal hassle. On the technical side, a reliable mPOS device is imperative, especially for us, because 30% of our sales volumes are from home and office deliveries. It’s a fundamental method of payment every bank should provide its customers of a similar nature.


What advice do you have for budding franchisees on seeking out a good franchise brand and banking partner for their business?

  • Do your research to ensure you’re partnering with a brand that is established, well-known and expect to pay a fair price for that franchise.
  • Be aware of how the franchise brand is perceived in the market and what location opportunities are available to you as a franchisee.
  • Choose a banking facility that always has the funds available to grow your business.
  • Ensure the bank understands the brand’s business model and where you’re falling short.

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