A Fresh Take On Multi-Unit Franchising

Approaching multi-unit franchising with a single-unit mindset

At Primrose Schools, we take an especially thoughtful approach to multi-unit franchising partially due to the nature of our industry. Primrose is a high-quality early education and care franchise, so our Franchise Owners have a responsibility much greater than owning a business. It is a meaningful and rewarding position, and we take the time to ensure the right people are in it.

Each Primrose school is independently owned and operated by Franchise Owners, 32 percent of which own multiple schools. Our whole business approach is centered on finding passionate people who share our values, which is one reason why we apply a single-unit mindset to multi-unit franchising.

As part of this single-unit mindset, Primrose often grants just one school to new franchisees at first. Once the school is established, we have very open, honest and intentional conversations about unit expansion options if that is part of a franchisee’s long-term vision. This approach focuses on the Franchise Owner as a passionate owner-investor – examining his or her goals, motivations and the needs of the community – to foster smart decision-making and sound reasoning throughout the process.

If you are interested in owning more than one franchise within a brand, you also should consider looking at opportunities through a single-unit lens.

If you already own a franchise, you likely explored the industry, your bandwidth and your motive in-depth before making your decision to buy.

Devote the same level of analysis and thoroughness to the decision to own multiple units.

Start by doing your due diligence on the industry. According to IBISWorld, there are different stages of maturity that every industry falls into. In a growth industry, revenue grows faster than the economy and new companies are constantly entering the market. An example is the children’s services franchise sector, which has grown by 35.9 percent from 2010 to 2015 (FranchiseGrade.com). A growth industry might be a good option for an entrepreneur looking to own multiple units because they are driven by high demand.

Once you assess your industry, take a candid look at your bandwidth to determine if you really have enough time to devote to owning multiple units. FranchiseGrade.com notes that 79 percent of franchisees work more than 40 hours per week. Additionally, owning multiple units demands strong management skills as you devote time to overseeing and developing your leadership team and staff.

Lastly, take a moment to gut-check your motive. Are you pursuing the opportunity because of your passion or simply profitability? The responsibility, time and focus it takes to own multiple units will come much easier if you believe in your business and are passionate about your industry. Many Primrose Franchise Owners express the sentiment, “I would do this even if I wasn’t paid!” From the perspective of a franchisor, that’s a sign that the person is in it for the right reasons and is potentially prepared to expand.

Questions to Ask

Before you consider opening multiple franchise locations, take a hard look at your current business. This is a cornerstone of the single-unit approach to multi-unit franchising and something we at Primrose do diligently as a franchisor. We work hard to empower all of our Franchise Owners to be successful, which is why we don’t take the decision to award multiple units lightly. Here are a few key questions we ask and evaluate with our franchisees to assess whether they’re ready to own multiple units:

  • Operationally, am I successful at delivering the service or product my business provides? Franchisees truly are stewards of the brand within their communities, so it’s important that you and your franchisor feel confident in your current role before expanding.
  • Am I financially sound enough to invest in another franchise location? While money shouldn’t drive your decision, it’s a crucial consideration in determining if you are able to grow. Have a conversation with your franchisor about the costs of expansion and your investment options to ensure it’s feasible.
  • Is there enough demand in the market to support expansion? The Franchise Owners of a new Primrose school in Burlington, Mass., approached us to open a second school after their first had completely filled up in its first year of operation. In this case, demand strongly supported an additional location, but the market doesn’t always work this way. Your franchisor will have helpful insights on market demand.

Find Success Together

Whether you want to own one unit or several, the best thing you can do is establish a great relationship with your franchisor. Open communication and goal setting together is essential to your mutual success. At Primrose Schools, we care about the people representing our brand. Our Franchise Owners share our values and believe in the high-quality early education and care that Primrose provides children and families. That’s why we take such a thoughtful approach – not just to multi-unit franchising, but to franchising as a whole. At the end of the day, it’s all about ensuring franchisees are successful both as individuals and in carrying out the unified mission of your business.

As Vice President of Franchising, Chris Goethe oversees franchise recruitment for Primrose School Franchising Company. Chris calls upon 25 years of professional experience in project management and uses a relationship-based approach to help develop the Primrose Schools Support Center Team as well as the franchise system.


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