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Researching a Franchise

Reverse Engineering Franchise Success

Here’s how to get started by ‘reverse engineering’ your goal.

Mark Siebert

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When Fred DeLuca and Peter Buck started Subway, they set an audacious goal. They wanted 34 restaurants in 10 years. What’s more, they allowed this plan to drive their strategy and decision-making.

When, after eight years, they were at only 16 stores, they knew they needed to do something different to reach their goal, so they turned to a new strategy: Franchising.

Over the years, Subway set new goals. When a goal became unlikely to be met, the company made another change in strategy.

There’s an important message here: Start your planning with the end in mind.

Related: Ordering Made Easy

If your goal is to eventually sell your franchise, don’t ask yourself what you think it will be worth. Instead, plan for it to be worth what you want it to fetch.

Estimate the earnings needed to secure your desired sale price

Once you know how much you want to sell for and by when, you are ready to start looking at valuation questions. Generally, the most common method of ascribing value to a company is through a price/earnings ratio.

The P/E ratio for any particular business will generally be a function of several factors such as your rate of growth, industry, and how well the company is run. But an examination of the selling prices (and P/E ratios) of comparable companies can give you a good starting point.

By dividing your desired selling price by this presumed P/E ratio, you can approximate the level of earnings that you may need to reach your objectives.

Estimate the number of franchises needed to reach your earnings goal

You will need to build a growth plan and financial model that will get you to that level of earnings.

Start by approximating the number of franchises you will need to sell to get to an appropriate revenue level.

This can be done by estimating the amount of royalty and product sales revenue that you’d need to generate from each franchisee.

Figure out a royalty rate

Determining the royalty can be tricky. Your royalty will need to be set at a level that will allow your franchisees to make an adequate return while providing you with an ability to provide needed support and a profit.

A 1% error on the royalty can cost you millions. Determining the royalty will require benchmarking, analysis and financial modeling – but it is the most important financial decision you will make as a franchisor.

Map out your growth plan

The number of franchises you need to sell should dictate your growth plan. You may want to ‘ramp up’ your franchises over time to optimise cash flow and valuation.

You can use industry averages to figure the amount of franchise advertising you will need to spend in any given year.

Use standard staffing ratios (adjusted for your specific business) and pay scales to determine when you need to hire certain people, how much you will pay them, and even how much office space you will need at any given time.

This data can be incorporated into a cash-flow model that will outline how much money you will need to spend to meet these goals.

Sure, things rarely work out perfectly on the first go-round. Your analysis may tell you that you do not have enough money to meet your objectives in the time you have allotted. You may need to go back to the drawing board.

Related: Signing Up With An Emerging Franchise

You can, of course, reduce your goal and start the exercise over. Or you can lengthen the amount of time that you will devote to reaching that goal. Alternatively, you can look to change your strategy.

All too often, entrepreneurs allow inertia to drive their success and direction. But if you want to get somewhere in particular, start with a goal, and then reduce it to specific action steps. While it can be an arduous process, your result will be a step-by-step roadmap to success on your terms.

As a franchise consultant since 1985, Mark Siebert founded the iFranchise Group, a franchise consulting firm, in 1999. During his career, Mark has personally assisted more than 30 Fortune 1000 companies and over 200 startup franchisors. He regularly conducts workshops and seminars on franchising around the world. For more than a decade, Mark also has been actively involved in assisting U.S. franchisors in expanding abroad. In 2001, he co-founded Franchise Investors Inc., an investment firm specializing in franchise companies. He's on the board of directors of the American Association of Franchisees and Dealers and the board of advisors to Connections for Community Ownership, which encourages minority business and job development through franchising.

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Researching a Franchise

Maximise Your Social Media Reach This Holiday Season

Quick and cost-effective, social media is your best tool to reach target markets when it matters most – during the holidays.

Diana Albertyn

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It’s not just the end of the year that can be lucrative for businesses. School holidays and other major breaks during the year present consumers with more time to spend shopping. Why not ensure money is spent at your franchise by capitalising on the minimal cost and maximum exposure of social media?

You don’t have to create entirely new deals or promotions from what you may already have running on your store, but find a way to make it special for your social media followers, suggests Kelly Mason, marketer at Customer Paradigm.

Holiday campaigns on Twitter, benefitting from popular hashtags, streaming live content, and receiving information instead of just distributing it via social media are just some of the ways to stay ahead of the competition.

Related: Why Your Business’ Social Media Marketing Strategy Is Probably Wrong

Know your customers well

The first step to attracting customers and getting them to complete a sale is understanding their customer journey.

“Being able to document where they spend their time online, which social channels they use most, and what they’re reading or watching on those channels is a huge plus. Finding that crucial information is fairly easy to do, thanks to modern-day marketing tools and resources,” advises Paul Herman, ‎VP: Product and Solutions Enablement Group, at Sprinklr, a unified customer experience management platform for enterprises.

The better you understand your customers, the easier it is to reach them through a campaign optimised for their interests.

Master social listening

You could be using social media all wrong in the run up to all your holiday campaigns. Perhaps it’s time you used this platform to listen to your customers?

“Through social listening, marketers can identify major trends and product keywords in their industries,” says Herman. “For instance, knowing those keywords can help marketers identify which social platforms are more popular for a target audience. With that information, they can make smarter decisions about where to spend their money and which products or services to promote on each platform.”

Related: 10 Laws Of Social Media Marketing

Use the information gathered to determine what customers like about your product, what they dislike about it, and how you can improve upon it so they can buy more of it. The more of this data you collect, the better and more effective your interactions with customers will be.

Try something new

50% of consumers look for a video of the product they want to buy before going to an ecommerce store to buy it, according to a 2016 Google survey. “Video can be an extremely effective way to get your customers to take action – in this case, to make a purchase with your store,” adds Mason.

Video adverts are often used as an experimental tool in social marketing and switching it up on platforms such as Facebook Live, Instagram Live, Instagram Stories, or Snapchat – depending on your brand’s activity and your audiences’ interests – can help attract customers during seasonal periods.

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Researching a Franchise

Selling Your First Franchise? Consider These Key Pointers

You’re ready to franchise your business, but who do you sell to and how? Your first few franchisees may be the hardest to acquire, but the process will be smoother if you get some basics right.

Diana Albertyn

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Business experience gained running your independent brand will come in handy, but looking for franchisees is a different ballgame. “We have to attract the right people in enough numbers to make the difference; and, the key to more leads is to have a multi-prong strategy to marketing,” says franchise strategist and expansion expert Lizette Pirtle.

Using media (social, or otherwise), trained experts in franchise sales, and keeping in mind that whoever you sell to will become an extension of your brand, are important considerations before selling your to first franchisee:

1. Use (all) media wisely

Website marketing, print advertising and social media are just some of the many different ways to attract potential owners to your franchise. But the most cost-effect of the three may be a ‘tweet’ or ‘post’ away, says former Director of Marketing at the International Franchise Association and owner of Burris Branding and Marketing, Jack Burris.

Related: To Buy Into A Franchise Or Purchase A Licence? 3 Factors To Consider

“Three out of four people using the Internet are either on Facebook or LinkedIn or Twitter or all of them. Take advantage of social media,” he says.

“There’s typically no cost to play in the space except for the time that you need to invest to build your brand with a social media presence.”

2. Seek out franchise coaches or brokers

While this is a more traditional method of making reliable franchise sales, it’s a great way to form lasting associations that will take you beyond your first few sales. “Using broker networks is a great way to supplement your own efforts. However, you must spend time developing relationships with these people if you want to get results,” advises Pirtle. “Don’t think that just listing your opportunity with them is sufficient.”

Franchise coaches and brokers have multiple options for potential franchisees, so to put yourself high on their list of consideration when prospects enquire, you have to form memorable relationships.

Related: 3 Factors To Focus On When Opening Your First Franchise

3. Always consider the bigger picture

Out of all the people your marketing efforts attract, always keep in mind that few will check all the boxes and compromising could cost you in the long run.

“The franchise relationship is a long-term one. If you’re going to be successful as a franchisor, you should start with the attitude that every franchisee will be someone who you’ll have to live with for years to come. And nowhere is this philosophy more important than when awarding your first franchise,” says Mark Siebert, CEO of the iFranchise Group, a franchise consulting organisation.

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Researching a Franchise

To Buy Into A Franchise Or Purchase A Licence? 3 Factors To Consider

So you want to become an entrepreneur, but prefer support from an established brand? Franchising isn’t your only option, but is licensing right for you?

Diana Albertyn

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Opening a new business under a successful brand is a sure-fire way to success. Given that you’ve done your homework and the projections are looking good, you could be running a profitable operation in no time. However, the choice between buying into a franchise and purchasing a licence to operate under the brand, in exchange for a fee and portion of your profits can go one of two ways.

“It is essential to understand the difference between a franchising agreement and a licensing agreement, especially when seeking funding from a financial services provider,” says Morné Cronjé, head of franchising at FNB Business.

“Each business model is governed by a completely different agreement or contract and they operate in a unique way.”

Related: Should You Purchase An Existing Franchise?

When contemplating which option is right for you, consider how much independence you’d like to hold as a business owner, what kind of investment and share of the profits you’re willing to make and the type of relationship you’d like with your mother brand.

1Support vs autonomy

When toy industry behemoth Toys “R” Us filed for bankruptcy in September 2017, Toys “R” Us South Africa distanced itself from its US affiliates saying that the SA business is performing so well, it’s embarking on an expansion drive. How can the mothership be suffering while its SA counterpart is thriving?

Toys “R” Us SA is a privately-owned independent company operating under a license agreement with Toys “R” Us Inc. While the local version of the toy giant has purchased the right to use licensed material and intellectual property, the licensor has no control over the operations of the licensee.

With franchising, however, the franchisor exerts more control over the franchisee, but where the franchise lacks in autonomy, it makes up for in support.  “While entering into a franchise requires more of an initial investment, the benefits of an entire organisation supporting you are powerful,” say the owners of US-based fitness studio Barre Forte.

2Financial implications

While both franchisees and licensees pay an upfront fee and ongoing royalty payments to the owner of the brand or intellectual property – the franchisor or licensor – as a licensee, you bear the developmental cost and the risk associated with launching foreign operations.

Cronjé explains a franchising agreement as a duplication of a specific business model, governed or controlled through a franchise agreement where the franchisor holds all rights, including the business model.

“While franchise and license agreements vary significantly, looking at the cost distinctions between the two, it is generally more affordable to pursue a license agreement than a franchise agreement,” he says.

Related: Owning A Franchise – Good Idea Or Bad Idea?

3Relationship matters

The initial investment may be higher for a franchise operation, but access to a proven concept, an established customer base and ongoing product and service innovation could end up wing worth the cost. Not to mention the support franchisees get in the form of ongoing training and assistance with the initial setup process.

“When it comes to training, the licensing model would only train staff on the product they are selling,” explains Cronjé. “This is very different to franchising, where comprehensive training is provided on how to operate the entire business.”

Licensing generally includes some components of franchising, however what the difference is that specific operational support systems aren’t dictated by the group, which could bode well for you if you’re looking for the benefits of a big brand without the red tape.

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