There is no instruction manual for creating a globally admired franchise brand—and from my experience, it is actually better that way. It forces brands to focus on the critical element to success: their people. The best way to ensure franchise success is to align your brand with hard working, dedicated people who share your company’s values and vision. Prioritizing smart, deliberate growth over sheer speed and volume helps to preserve the quality of people, the fabric of the brand and the culture of your original intention for sustainable success in the long term.
There are many criteria for what constitutes ‘the right person’ for any role in a company. Great business acumen is certainly helpful, but it is not the most important factor when considering a potential franchisee. Partners must believe in the company’s mission and pursue positive development for themselves, their teams, their community and their craft.
It is important to build a firm foundation in the early stages of growth to set the tone for what’s to come, and it can only be done with people who are truly passionate about improving their communities by introducing your brand. The decisions you make today will affect your brand tomorrow, and the quality of those decisions will ultimately determine your scale and longevity.
Quality Over Quantity
Successful growth patterns follow a time-tested concept: quality over quantity. At Your Pie, our goal to expand across America and beyond is always guided by our desire to flourish in a sustainable manner while staying true to core values. When considering franchisees, take time to find the best stewards to bring your brand to new markets. We know that rapid expansion provides impressive growth numbers; but if you are not building the right team, your brand’s reputation could suffer if those partners fail to uphold your vision and values.
It always helps to build a genuine relationship with any potential franchisee or business partner. Seek partners who care about more than simply doing business; find those who care about their communities and the success of your brand at large. These are the candidates who will make a difference in the lives of their consumers, and just as importantly, make the most of their investment to be a part of your brand.
Building a relationship requires transparency from both sides—which is easy when you are proud of your company and what it stands for. Over time, you will find that ongoing transparency fosters communication and opens doors to sharing knowledge and best practices that can help to elevate your brand.
Know Who You Are
In a competitive market, it is important for a brand to understand itself and use that self-awareness to its advantage. At Your Pie, we know that we are not the only fast-casual pizza concept out there—the sector grows larger every day. At the end of the day, we are a quality product, exceptional support team, unmatched passion for our craft and a desire to serve the communities we call home. Our advantage comes from knowing what our brand stands for and the value it creates for everyone involved.
You’ll find the most authentic and compelling pitch comes from being confident and consistent in what you are offering to customers and franchisees. As with anything else, creating a culture of authenticity starts at the top. When leadership is completely aligned on purpose and vision, everyone in the organization feels equipped to own that narrative, and prospects will be drawn to your brand experience.
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to cornering the market on franchise growth, but one way to get a step ahead of the competition is to project a consistent vision while also welcoming new and innovative ideas to your brand.
One of the best ways to differentiate your brand from others in your space is to encourage a vibrant, relational culture. Creating a culture of people who care about each other, both personally and professionally, cultivates innovation and fosters sustainable and healthy teams. Aim to find partners who value investments made in people so they will feel empowered to make life-changing enhancements to their communities.
In my experience, longevity comes from growing the right way: by understanding who we are, what we value and the impact we want to have across the country.
Ken Caldwell serves as the Vice President of Development for Your Pie, the original fast-casual pizza franchise. Caldwell brings more than 25 years in franchising and a documented track record of success to the brand. He and his team spearhead Your Pie’s expansion and have grown Your Pie to more than 50 franchises across the country from its beginning in Athens, Ga., just 10 years ago. He began his career in corporate banking, but quickly caught the entrepreneurial bug with Heavenly Ham, alongside Your Pie CEO Bucky Cook. Caldwell helped take the then-startup ham retailer from 10 to 230 units before the brand was sold to competitor HoneyBaked Ham. Caldwell then managed the HoneyBaked Ham Co.’s franchise division, taking the brand from 35 units to more than 150 during his seven-year tenure.