By Jeni Garrett
Franchising is not the fast and easy way to grow a brand and not every brand is suitable for franchising. Equal doses of patience and faith in others are required if franchising is to take a brand where it could not go on its own. The goal is to develop slow and steady growth, so it’s best to think of franchising as a marathon, not a sprint.
Before making the decision that franchising is the way to grow a brand, a business owner must take a step back and examine where his or her company stands at this moment. The three most important elements to have in place before deciding to franchise are:
1) A profitable business model
2) A unique brand culture with appropriate trademarks
3) World-class training, systems and manuals
If those things are not in place – if the business model is not yet profitable or the owner is working “in” the business rather than “on” it – then the company is not yet ready to franchise. Likewise, if a company is experiencing high levels of employee turnover, that is often an indication that it doesn’t have the kind of corporate culture, structure and training systems in place that would support expansion through franchising.
Franchising is a method of potentially phenomenal expansion because of its unique ability to combine individual perspective, knowledge and strength from the franchise system. If a company’s core brand, communication systems, or training tools are non-existent or ineffective, then a franchisor won’t be able to harness the power of the individual talents of their franchise owners in a unified way and grow the company as a whole.
Creating a “whole greater than the sum of the parts” is by far the greatest advantage of franchising. Knowledge and experience gleaned from dozens of different backgrounds, whether its business, law, medicine, corporate sales, or others are melded into one system with varying perspectives shared on best practices. A top-down, corporate-owned chain simply cannot achieve the same compounding precision of shared ideas that is multiplied year after year.
However, the idea of “one voice, one vision” can’t be achieved without full buy-in from franchisees. Business owners need to go above and beyond the typical franchisor-franchisee relationship to really work with their franchisees to build the brand together. This “one for all, all for one” philosophy will allow franchisors to develop relationships with their partners so they continue to expand their franchise locations and create buzz with word-of-mouth marketing in their communities. The goal is to ensure a company’s franchise partners have as much ownership of the brand as the franchisor does, so there is not only buy-in, but they are completely “sold” on the brand and give as much effort as they can in making that brand a household name.
A critical key to successful brand recognition for a franchisor is breaking down its processes to the lowest common denominator to ensure the success of its franchisees. Each location needs to follow the same standard practices for every customer, each time they visit. Along with an exceptional commitment to the brand, customers and franchise partners, the strength of one’s business model means each franchisee is given the necessary tools to execute that model. Fostering this kind of atmosphere in the slow early days of franchising a business, before the big growth leaps, means the company will be in a more solid and stable position for rapid expansion later on. In doing this, franchisors are laying the foundation for all the growth one can handle when these crucial relationships are built with the franchisees.
The final key to success that all franchisors strive for to become the iconic brand everyone dreams about? Happy franchisees.
Jeni Garrett is the founder, president and CEO of The Woodhouse Spas Corporation, the world’s only high-end, luxury day spa franchise based in Victoria, Texas. The company has 38 locations in 14 states and 205 spas under contract to open over the next five to ten years. www.WoodhouseSpas.com.