The Five Mistakes Most Franchisors Make

Franchising is an organized business model that helps entrepreneurs kickstart empire brands that can be duplicated by franchisees everywhere.

It can be a great way to build a major, recognizable brand and take a big bite out of market share, and when executed well, everyone involved can be part of a thriving business that delivers significant rewards.

All upstart businesses come with risk, but franchising comes with additional pitfalls that lead to a lot of failure and regrets. Unfortunately, because franchises are designed to exist on such a large scale, mistakes that could be corrected more easily with a single business unit are magnified to the point that they can steer an entire brand off course.

More upstart businesses are being drawn in by the allure of turning their bright idea into a franchise, but as the number of businesses that attempt the leap into the franchise world rises, more also risk falling flat. Though there are a lot of variables that contribute to a healthy franchise, most big brands wobble because of the same five mistakes.

1. Failure to truly understand and define the brand

Understanding your own brand sounds like a no-brainer, but it’s usually the first hiccup that holds a business back. Knowing exactly what you are (and exactly what you are not) is the first step to having any successful brand, and finding a simple way to communicate that message is a close second. If there is any ambiguity about your brand, confusion is an immediate side effect. The trick is to walk the fine line between loyalty to your vision and being open to outside input. Weak branding invites people to tweak or alter the brand until it’s a mess, which ultimately confuses both franchisees and customers. On the other hand, being too rigid doesn’t provide any flexibility for growth and positive change. 

2. Failure to create an education system that shares the “secret sauce”

One of the biggest pitfalls of launching a franchise is discounting the unique magic that the original franchise founder personally contributes. If you want to start a franchise, don’t take your personal charisma and expertise for granted, because the specialties you contribute personally are likely a big part of what made your idea successful to start with. You can’t duplicate yourself, but you can (and should) invest in solid, comprehensive, accessible education materials that will help franchisees tap into the power that gives your brand its “secret sauce.” Having strong educational systems in place will let people access information when and where they need it, plus give them the power to learn independently and help fellow franchisees grow as well.

3. Fail: Getting bad legal advice

Legal advice is everywhere, and it’s usually expensive regardless of how good or bad it is. Be realistic about the cost of legal advice, budget accordingly, and shop attorneys until you find the best, most experienced legal help you can afford. Legal costs are going to be high, but think of them as an essential investment to your entire franchise’s health in the short and long term. Building your business on a shaky legal foundation could lead to the end of everything you’ve worked for, so get it right the first time. It’s a lot easier to build on a strong foundation from day one than it is to renovate.

4. Fail: Getting worse sales advice

Selling is more of art than science, but the franchising model has challenged even the best salespeople. The road of franchise development is jam packed with land mines, but working with franchise sales consultants can help you steer around them and avoid headaches and damage to your brand. Find a team of vetted franchise sales experts who have experience developing the kind of franchise you envision, and listen closely to their advice. Franchise sales consultants are great for every phase and stage of your business, whether you’re first starting out, sales have plateaued, or you need to keep momentum going.

5. Not defining your territory

Lots of business owners become starry-eyed over the “sky is the limit” potential of owning a franchise system. Expansion can even go global, but it’s important to take healthy steps instead of big ones. If you don’t take the time to develop territories carefully and intelligently, you risk running out of resources, stretching people too thin, or introducing a concept before it’s ready. Break down your growth goals into realistic franchise maps with dedicated personnel to develop and run each. Territories are geographically helpful in organizing your brand, but they can also break down customers into groups that help you sell. Patience is harder to practice, but it pays off bigger dividends down the road.

Kyle Zagrodzky is president of OsteoStrong, the health and wellness system with a focus on stronger bones, improved strength, and better balance in less than 10 minutes a week using scientifically proven and patented osteogenic loading technology. OsteoStrong introduced a new era in modern wellness and anti-aging in 2011 and has since helped thousands of clients between ages 8 and 98 improve strength, balance, endurance, and bone density. In 2014, the brand signed commitments with nine regional developers to launch 500 new locations across America. Today, the OsteoStrong brand is staying true to its growth towards a brand with global reach with the addition of more franchise sales and new regional developers.

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