The backbone of emerging and established franchises alike is infrastructure. Franchise infrastructure is the services extending from the franchisor to franchisees. A healthy infrastructure system benefits both parties. The franchisee operates efficiently thanks to a strong and supportive infrastructure system and the franchisor can scale more easily and grow the brand effectively and efficiently.
The main foundational elements of franchise infrastructure include training, support personnel, franchise sales, marketing, supply chain, legal services and more. If you are a small business considering franchising, you may be wondering where to start building your franchise infrastructure. The answer depends on what your concept is and what will drive its success. But, one thing is certain: Do not skimp on developing infrastructure. A weak infrastructure can bring down your entire franchise system before it ever gets off the ground.
Training and support are typically the first elements put in place during infrastructure development. These will ensure franchisees have the help they need to execute the model and ensure a strong and consistent brand experience for the end consumer. Of course, if you are an emerging franchisor, hiring training and support staff might not be feasible as you embark on the franchising journey.
Therefore, these roles typically should be shared resources, meaning the personnel have a role within the corporate units, as well, and split their time between corporate and franchise support. However, when the business begins to grow and shared help is no longer effective or has become overwhelmed, you must consider adding full time staff to the franchising business.
Assuming you have adequate support for your franchisees from your shared-services personnel, hiring a franchise sales person as your first full time franchise employee will be essential to adding new franchisees to the system and providing the growth needed to get to royalty self-sufficiency.
It is critical this person knows how to sell, including what can and cannot be said to franchisee prospects and how to bring in the right fit for the franchise system. This person should have abundant experience growing a healthy system with strong franchise candidates. Avoid the franchise salesperson who only cares about selling and commission checks. You need a true development professional who understands the need to add the right franchisees that will help the system grow.
What Comes Next?
You have to assess where your system is lacking and where it is strong to determine what parts of the infrastructure to add next. It depends on your current experience and the experience of your team. If you have a background in new unit development, you might be able to handle that part of the job while you build support around you. If your model is challenging to run from an operational standpoint, you might want to add field support sooner. If you have other experience on the team, you might need to hire and build around your weaknesses. Assess and evaluate your current team, system and situation and build from there.
If your emerging brand does not have shared personnel in these areas, you can outsource some of these services until you can afford to bring them in-house, including legal services and marketing.
The Importance of Field Support
Field support becomes necessary as your franchise grows beyond what your shared support can handle. Not only will your field support assist franchisees, but those representatives will serve as liaisons between franchisees and franchisor. The field support representative will inform the franchisor of what’s working and what is not working at locations in the field, often outside the view of the franchisor. This person also serves as a brand standard guardian, making sure franchisees are in compliance with the model.
However, they should be helpful, empathetic and good listeners – they must be able to form healthy working relationships with franchisees. They will be your teachers and trainers moving forward in the relationship, and it is imperative that they can assist the franchisees in executing your franchise model in order to achieve long term success.
The Rewards of Healthy Infrastructure
Building your franchise infrastructure early in your franchise journey is the most important thing you can do. Remember, when franchisees are successful, franchisors are successful. You can expect validation from franchisees, which will promote franchise growth, thanks to the strong foundation you established.
With 30 years of franchising experience and more than 800 franchise owners representing 1,200 locations for five brands, Winmark Franchise Partners can help get you develop your franchise infrastructure. If you are interested in receiving additional information, contact us here or at (844) 452-4600.