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Common Franchisor Mistakes… And How To Avoid Them

Franchising has a special allure that entices a lot of entrepreneurs. After all, if you have a fantastic idea or have already established a successful business, why not make it even bigger and better by turning it into a franchise?

Kyle Zagrodzky

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The problem is that scaling a concept into a successful franchise involves a lot more than an uphill climb. Building a franchise is more like trying to summit Everest, and too many entrepreneurs start the journey without being fully prepared.

1. Having a scattered or unclear brand

You’d think that clearly defining your brand would be the easiest step of franchising, but it’s often the objective where most entrepreneurs miss the mark. Entrepreneurs are ‘big idea’ people, and sometimes it’s hard to contain those ideas in a single, streamlined, clear, meaningful brand.

A lot of entrepreneurs think other people just don’t ‘get it’, but a great concept is always simple enough to understand.

Here’s the ultimate test: If you can define your brand in six words or less and complete strangers understand immediately, you’re good to go.

Related: Franchising Mistakes You Need To Avoid

2. Relying on bad legal advice

Most people dread dealing with legal issues, but if you’re going to develop a franchise, having quality legal counsel (and being prepared to foot the bill) is non-negotiable. We all want to invest in resources that will nourish the business, but business owners tend to balk at legal fees.

Entrepreneurs looking to franchise should never cut corners on legal advice, especially in the growth stages when every legal decision is crucial. Don’t think of top-notch legal counsel as money down the drain — think of it instead as a fundamental requirement for building your business on a sturdy foundation.

3. Not sharing the ‘secret sauce’ with franchisees

secret-sauce

Entrepreneurs are charismatic, and when they’ve built a successful business and start considering franchising, they often severely underestimate how much of their personal touch makes that business thrive. To win on a massive scale, a franchised company has to be duplicable, but you can’t replicate yourself.

Franchisees have to feel connected to the spirit of the brand, and the best way to do that is through great educational resources. Offer franchisees immediate, easy access to a full suite of educational tools that will show them the recipe for your secret sauce so it can be recreated in every unit.

Related: Is The Franchise Route Right For You?

4. Being inflexible when change is necessary

Lots of entrepreneurs refer to their business as their baby, and with good reason. Companies need constant attention and care, and that kind of effort can only be delivered when we’re deeply passionate about a concept.

However, passion can lead to tunnel vision, which makes it hard to listen to advice when something about a brand needs to change. It’s hard to know when to stick to your original idea and when to accept that something needs to be tweaked, but it’s also important to listen.

5. Failing to define a territory

Franchises are designed to be big, but it’s healthier to build strength according to a plan than to try to lift 100kg on your first visit to the gym. Instead of trying to conquer the whole country (or the globe) in one stroke, break the goal into manageable pieces and learn to delegate.

Savvy franchises are broken into territories that are managed by regional developers who can recruit new franchisees and support developing units.

Dividing growth into territories also helps the business gain better insight into regional and local demographics that lead to tighter sales initiatives and more refined marketing and messaging.

Related: 29 Aspects You Need to Consider Before Franchising a Business

6. Listening to bad sales advice

Franchising has created a whole new arena of sales theory and tactics. There are so many layers to selling a franchise, and it’s hard for most franchises to keep up. From bringing on new franchisees to catching a customer’s attention, keeping them interested, and maintaining relationships over time, there is a lot to oversee.

Working with vetted franchise sales consultants takes a lot of the pain and strain out of every facet of franchise sales, and just like partnering with great attorneys, it is well worth the investment.

Kyle Zagrodzky is president of OsteoStrong, the health and wellness system that boosts bone and muscle strength in less than 10 minutes a week using scientifically proven osteogenic loading concepts. OsteoStrong introduced a new era in modern fitness and aging prevention two years ago and has since helped thousands of clients between ages 8 and 92 improve strength, balance, endurance and bone density. In 2014, the brand signed commitments with nine regional developers to launch 500 new locations across America.

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Franchisors

Get Your Franchise Running Smoothly – Even When You’re Not There

Does the thought of taking time off from your franchise outlet make you nervous? Then you have to learn to run your business instead of letting it run you.

Diana Albertyn

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“A sign of a successful business is one that can operate without your physical presence 24/7,” says Brad Sugars, start-up expert, author and founder of ActionCOACH. While your franchise systems and operations are designed to run smoothly and consistently, is your staff trained to be productive in your absence?

“Franchises are already by nature systematised operations, so it boils down to how you as a business owner hire and train people to get the necessary jobs done,” says Sugars.

If you know a sick day will cause havoc in your store, an assessment of how you’re running your business is needed. Are you really running a successful franchise if things fall about without your supervision? Take a step back and consider the following steps to manage your franchise without it controlling your life. Pretty soon you could book that vacation.

Determine your role in the franchise

Are you managing the franchise, taking orders, doing admin and handling every other aspect of the business? Then you’re not hiring the right people, because those roles should be filled by people who can be left to carry them out unsupervised.

Related: How To Write An Operations Manual For Your Franchise

“And if you don’t have the right people for the job then it might be time to start hiring, so you can free up your franchise’s most valuable resource – you,” says Pieter Scholtz, co-Master Licensee for ActionCOACH in Southern Africa.

“You need to get an idea of how you can hire people to take repetitive or administrative tasks away from you. Ask yourself: ‘Do I really need to be doing this?’” says Sugars. Your business cannot run optimally if you’re the single most-knowledgeable and capable person there.

Lead with clarity

You have long-term goals for your business, perhaps even acquiring more locations and running multiple units. While growth is good, you need to share the load and ensure everyone employed in your business is working towards the same goals, otherwise, it’ll be difficult to get there. Sugars suggests asking yourself the following:

  • How will you make your vision a reality?
  • What makes you different from other franchisees and business owners?
  • What kind of team do you want to recruit and create?
  • How does all of this deliver value to your customer?

Conveying your vision can help ensure employees know how to get to the end-goal faster and more efficiently.

Related: 3 Steps To Ensure Your Franchisees Flourish Your Support System

Plan for long-term cash flow

Loyal customers ensure a constant flow of cash through the franchise and this requires exceptional service and the building of strong relationships. “Target your top-spending customers and establish a good relationship with them for long-term cash flow,” Sugars suggests.

Although the broader campaigns are covered by the marketing fee you’re paying to your franchisor, it’s wise to focus on your local’s tastes and suggestions when looking to deliver an experience worth returning for.

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Franchisors

Are Your Employees On Board With Your Franchise’s Brand Promise?

You cannot run a successful franchise if your staff isn’t aligned to the brand’s values.

Diana Albertyn

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Are the people who work in your franchise outlet familiar with the franchise’s brand promise? As a franchisee, you’re required to deliver a uniform experience, so any customer who walks through your door feels like they’re at the same store the franchisor has across multiple locations. If your employees aren’t able to embody the franchise’s brand promise at every interaction, you have a challenge on hand.

“If your company’s brand promise is a warm and friendly atmosphere, you can’t deliver that if your employees aren’t warm and friendly,” says Robin William, Senior Practice Consultant at Gallup.

“Selecting the right employees is essential to providing the right brand service. Hiring people who can’t behave the way the brand wants them to will doom a service initiative.”

Related: How To Write An Operations Manual For Your Franchise

When employees know what’s expected of them, they’re able to keep the promise the franchise makes to customers – leading to higher customer and employee engagement, trust, and revenue.

More than a mission statement

Even if you’ve ensured every one of your staff members know the brand’s mission statement, how can you be sure they’re able to exemplify it in their behaviour every day? William suggests that you do the following:

  • Create structures and mechanisms to consistently instil brand values in the franchise’s culture.
  • Discuss brand behaviours daily.
  • Demonstrate brand behaviours yourself every day.
  • Praise the efforts of individuals who demonstrate brand behaviours.
  • Hold employees accountable for not exhibiting brand behaviours.

Once you’ve clearly defined the right brand behaviours, it’ll be easier to have staff on board who deliver your franchisor’s brand promise.

Internalise the culture

Here’s a conundrum. Do your staff know what to do in a situation where a customer’s request might not be aligned with the brand promise, but the brand promise is always to deliver on customers’ requests? It’s a tricky situation, but if you’ve clearly articulated the promise, your staff will know how to “Behave the brand”, says William.

“Do whatever it takes to deliver on its brand promise. Whether it’s focusing quality, fast service, customer care, or low prices,” he says.

“Employees must execute brand and service behaviours consistently, and frequent reminders can help employees understand and internalise these behaviours.”

Related: 3 Challenges To Establishing A Franchise System And How To Overcome Them

Empower your staff

Investing in your staff is the best way to encourage them to act in line with your brand’s promise. Once they understand why it’s important to act along the lines of your brand, they will feel empowered and motivated to do so.

Starbucks trains employees to memorise customers’ names and preferences in line with their promise of making everyone who visits their stores feel at home. Apple’s strategy of hiring nice, smart people who are passionate about service and the product aligns with the company’s belief that knowledge can be improved, but personality cannot.

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Franchisors

How To Write An Operations Manual For Your Franchise

After establishing that your business is franchise material, ensure you’ve created a clear roadmap to success for your franchisees.

Diana Albertyn

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Documenting the replicability of your business is key to launching a viable franchise operation. Without manuals and instructions on how exactly you carried out your concept to its current level of success, your franchisees won’t accomplish the results you anticipate.

“Unless you can capture your business on paper, you cannot claim to have a business system to sell. Even detailed documentation may not be enough,” says Franchise Direct’s Lorraine Courtney.

“You may need to provide structured education programmes for new franchisees and their staff to teach them your business system.”

With the help of an experienced franchise consultant, you can devise the critical document that contains all the aspects of what make your brand successful.

Related: 3 Challenges To Establishing A Franchise System And How To Overcome Them

Why you need a franchise operations manual

If you’re second-guessing the importance of crafting an operations manual, then you shouldn’t go into franchising. “Your operations manual is your go-to document for deciding who is responsible for what in any franchisor-franchisee relationship,” says Dani Peleva, Managing Director at online marketing agency, Local Fame.

According to Peleva, your manual should generally include each franchisee’s contractual obligations to you as well as the complete details on how you expect them to fulfil these obligations.

“On a basic level, it tells your franchisees what you expect of them. It gives them all the information that you’ve accumulated while operating your franchise,” says Peleva. After familiarising themselves with this manual, franchisees should know how the information can be used to build their own business up to be as successful as the original store.

What an operations manual will do for your business

When all your franchisees know what’s expected from them as they run their respective locations, the entire brand is then able to provide a cohesive, coherent customer experience, which is crucial to your success as a franchisor.

A good manual will also help you build better relationships with your franchisees as they won’t need to constantly contact you to clarify aspects of the business they’re not sure of. If they’re applying the information in the manual, they should know everything you know about how to run this type of business, meaning they’ll make good profits – for you and themselves.

Related: 3 Steps To Ensure Your Franchisees Flourish Your Support System

“One of the steps most potential franchisees make before signing an agreement will be to contact your other franchisees. A strong manual will help your current franchisees return positive feedback,” adds Peleva.

How to decide which elements to include

Obligations detailed in your franchisee agreement will have to correspond with steps on how to achieve them in your franchise manual. As a new franchisor, you cannot be expected to have a manual as thick and wordy as your established counterparts.

Peleva suggests covering aspects such as:

  • How to set up a franchisee location and start trading
  • How daily operations will be conducted
  • How development or expansion will be controlled.

“Your operations manual should always include as much detail as possible regarding operational practices that are to be followed,” says Peleva. “A simple list item that states ‘this obligation must be fulfilled’ is not helpful. Looks always to the ‘how’ of the issue and you’ll cover everything you need to.”

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