Just because franchising is a well-established and proven system of growing a business does not mean it is a cookie cutter approach. There are plenty of risks to avoid and mistakes to be made. Franchise advice from franchise industry veterans is extremely valuable when launching a franchise system or taking your concept from emerging franchise brand status to the next level.
Experienced franchisors have overcome the pitfalls and learned from their mistakes, which often makes them experts in franchise development. Before asking for franchise advice from an individual franchisor, do some research on him or her, review their Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD), and the health of their franchise system. Is it prospering or struggling to grow? Since your aim is to develop a thriving franchise, obviously, you want to seek the advice of successful brands.
From One Franchisor to Another
Steve Murphy, president of franchising at Winmark Corporation, which boasts more than 800 franchise owners representing 1,200 locations for five brands, shares his three-prong piece of advice:
- Priority No. 1 is to focus on the business and the success of the model you have created
- Make sure the model remains profitable and provides investors with a solid ROI
- Reinvest in people, processes and systems to keep the brand and model strong
- Establish differentiators to distinguish your brand to consumers and provide a better value proposition than your competitors
- Build barriers to entry whenever possible to discourage knock-offs and competition
- Build the business for the long haul, making sure to maintain its relevance to consumers
- Concentrate on developing the brand and franchisees
- Be the leader of the brand. Don’t let rogue franchisees or suppliers change the brand experience or the brand proposition to the customer
- Listen to your franchise system to help improve and enhance the brand
- Never change for the sake of changing. If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it
- Be sure the model is easily replicable for your franchisees
- Ensure that all franchisees are following the model and delivering on the brand promise
- Treat all franchisees the same. Every one of them is an equal partner
- Have the same rules for everyone. But, that being said, do not let rules get in the way of relationships
- Be diligent in your defense of the brand, the system and your business model at all costs
- Surround yourself with a top-notch support team
- Your support team can make a big difference in how the franchise concept grows. They are the drivers and should be seen as assets by your franchisees. With the right people in key support positions, franchisees will listen and readily follow the model. Building trust through them is critical.
A Wealth of Advice Throughout the Industry
If you are unsure of where to seek advice for developing and growing your franchise, start with the International Franchise Association (IFA). The IFA, which is nearly 60 years old, is the oldest and largest franchise organization educating entrepreneurs and advocating for the industry. It is made up of franchisors, franchisees and suppliers.
“The IFA is a great resource,” said Alan Majerko, VP of corporate development at Winmark Franchise Partners, whose background includes business development and marketing for Buffalo Wild Wings and franchise development for Great Clips. “Their conferences are a great way to network and learn from others in the franchise industry.”
Franchise-focused LinkedIn groups are another resource for advice and best practices.
Find a Mentor
Franchising is a marathon, not a sprint. Many franchisors require additional and different advice throughout each stage of their development. Find a mentor who you can go to whenever you need advice and will provide you a different perspective or complementary viewpoint. Doing so will help you grow your franchise with fewer issues.
A Franchise Advisory Council consisting of a few of your franchisees is also helpful as it will provide you with the franchisee perspective. Their perspective will be instrumental in ironing out any operational kinks in the system. Having their voice heard and taking care of your existing franchisees, who can make or break franchise growth through validation, is paramount.
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 started and improve your system’s growth with the right franchise advice. If you are interested in receiving additional information, contact us here or at (844) 452-4600.