You’ve heard the question a thousand times from customers pleased with your business’s product or service: Are you guys a franchise? If it’s got you thinking about growing your brand through franchising, expect to ask yourself a lot of questions. Below are some of the most common questions emerging franchisors ask themselves, along with answers to help get you started.
Where Do I Begin?
Start with your foundation. Before you can begin franchising, make sure you are operating multiple locations to establish proof of concept.
By operating multiple locations, you’ll be able to determine that your brand has broad appeal, how profitable each location is, how efficient your supply chain is, as well as generate brand recognition among consumers.
Since consistency is the hallmark of franchise brands, your brand standards, the guidelines you developed to ensure the brand experience is replicable throughout the entire chain, will be key in determining proof of concept. Does each location meet your brand standards by:
- Serving the same product or service
- Provide the same level of customer service
- Deliver the same emotional connection
- Earn the same level of satisfaction
Consumers are attracted to franchise brands for their consistency, no matter where they are in the world.
Even before you start franchising, make sure you are collecting the names of all the people who have expressed interest in franchising your brand. These are your first franchise leads and possibly your first franchisees. At the same time, be very clear to these interested parties that you are not a franchise, and do not share an information about the business until you are legally allowed to by law.
What Should My Budget Include?
Your foundation needs plenty of capital to develop infrastructure in order to grow, which you’ll have to budget for. You will need to budget for several expenses before you actually start growing your brand through franchising. As you develop your budget, it will quickly become clear why being well-capitalized is necessary. Your budget should cover expenditures for infrastructure, including:
- Franchisee training
- Ongoing support
- Legal fees
- Franchise sales team
- Brand and franchise marketing
- Supply chain
- Operations manuals
- Additional working capital
Beyond infrastructure, you will also need to budget for trademark registration, creation of the FDD and franchise contract, and franchise registration.
How Do I Raise the Capital?
There are many sources of early-stage franchise growth funding. Each lender and investor is different and has rules for investing capital. You will have to determine which source is right for you. The most popular sources are:
- Commercial banks
- Small Business Administration
- Investment bankers
- Private equity firms
- Venture capital firms
- Angel investors
Lenders and investors are primarily concerned about their return on investment, and therefore want to be assured your concept is going to succeed. Making sure your proof of concept is strong will go a long way toward obtaining capital from multiple funding sources.
Where Do I Start Building Infrastructure?
Infrastructure is the backbone of every franchise brand and consists of many moving parts – training, operations, support personnel, franchise sales, marketing, supply chain, legal services and more. It’s everything your franchisees will require to get up and running and growing. Developing a healthy infrastructure system benefits the franchisor, as well, allowing you to scale more easily and grow the brand effectively and efficiently. It’s vital to your franchise system – weak infrastructure can be detrimental to your franchise brand.
Training and support are typically the first elements put in place during infrastructure development. They ensure franchisees have the help they need to execute the model and help guarantee a strong and consistent brand experience for the end consumer.
Which part of the infrastructure you develop next depends on your needs. You have to assess where your system needs improvement and where it is strong to determine what to add next. It depends on your current experience and the experience of your team. One thing is certain about infrastructure: You cannot skimp on developing it as much as possible.
What’s the Best Way to Grow?
As previously mentioned, make sure you are collecting the names of all the people who have expressed interest in franchising your brand.
When you decide to franchise your brand, do it aggressively on a local scale first. Typically emerging franchisors award franchises to one or two die-hard customers who are eager to grow the brand, and then they tend to rest on their laurels a bit. When that happens, they end up with just those two franchisees for the next couple of years because franchise growth has stalled.
Remain focused on growing locally, then regionally, in the early stages. This will help you reach a reasonable scale quicker and with a strong brand presence. When your brand has a strong regional recognition, you can grow to a multi-regional or national presence.
Emerging brands should commit to strict adherence of growing in concentric circles, especially if they’re not well-known. Resist the temptation to award a franchise to entrepreneurs far afield. Many emerging franchisors will take the franchise fee check from someone thousands of miles away before they realize the strain it puts on resources and the bite it takes out of profits. For an emerging brand that doesn’t have a ton of capital yet, keeping growth local will make sales more manageable. As a new franchisor, this will allow you to operate as your franchise development person until you can build up your franchise management team. It will also make budgeting for support easier.
Local, concentric growth will benefit your franchisees, too. The strong brand presence will naturally increase consumer awareness, which will help drive them to your franchise locations and contribute to each location’s unit level economics. Happy and profitable franchise owners will then provide positive brand validation to other entrepreneurs who may be interested in opening more locations, which is critical to the success of your franchise.
How Should I Attract Franchisee Candidates?
Opening multiple corporate-owned locations in multiple markets is a great way to generate brand awareness among potential franchisees, as well as consumers. But don’t rely on a strong presence alone. You’ll need to create a franchise development strategy, which may include the following:
- Public Relations – Good publicity about your brand – grand openings, founding story, an impressive sale, the launch of your franchising campaign and more – will help you grab the attention of entrepreneurs. Rely on a reputable PR firm to help filter that news in front of the appropriate audience, generate leads and convert them into franchisees.
- Content Marketing – Your content should engage potential franchisees and keep them interested until they are ready to invest. Content marketing collateral comes in many forms, including blog posts, social media posts, videos, whitepapers, infographics and more. Blogging for franchise development not only allows you to share what your brand is about, but it can also establish you as an expert in the industry.
- Digital Marketing and Advertising – Search engine marketing and social media advertising, through sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn, are particularly critical for getting in front of your target franchisee prospects. Facebook, in particular, has become an increasingly valuable lead generation source with targeted ads and promoted posts, which can tie into your blog.
- Sales Team – Your team, whether it consists of just you or several members, involves offering a personal touch, which franchisee candidates often need to become fully invested in the process. Prospects also like having someone they can speak with to get answers quickly.
How Do I Market Our Franchise Opportunity?
Establish channels for earned, owned and paid media. The three marketing avenues are distinct but are connected and effective at generating franchise leads. Here’s how: ·
- Earned – This brand of marketing is generated by third-parties, such as print, broadcast and online news.
- Owned – This channel consists of all the content you’re able to control, including your consumer and franchise development websites, social media and company blog.
- Paid – Traditionally, brands have used advertisements to get their message in front of consumers or prospective franchisees by paying the media company – whether it be a print or online publication, broadcast network or a search engine like Google or Yahoo.
Earned and paid media are key to sparking interest in your brand, and can lead entrepreneurs looking for a brand to invest in back to your website, where they can learn more about the benefits of owning a franchise and be encouraged to fill out a contact form.
These are just a few of the first steps you must make toward franchise growth. For help preparing your concept for franchising and getting answers to more complex growth questions, turn to Winmark
Franchise Partners. With 30 years of franchising experience and more than 800 franchise owners representing almost 1,250 locations for five brands, Winmark Franchise Partners can help you help grow your brand through sound strategy and expert franchise advice. Contact us here or at (844) 234-8520.