Here’s what franchise owners can do to make the most of their business
Franchise businesses are expected to grow in 2021, according to an economic forecast by the International Franchise Association (IFA).
The report predicts that nearly all of the economic damage done to the industry by the COVID-19 pandemic could be erased this year, and that franchising is projected to open 26,000-plus locations in the U.S., adding nearly 800,000 jobs, many of which will come in the services, retail, and food sectors.
The resilience and growth of the industry are largely attributable to the support franchisees receive from corporate offices and leaders, as well as from each other. It’s one of the most appealing aspects of franchise ownership, and why more and more people are getting involved. And with our operations teams going back in the field to help new franchisees get started – after COVID caused businesses of all kinds to work remotely – the learning curve is lessened.
One of the biggest advantages of owning a franchise, as opposed to starting one’s own business, is the collaboration factor and the operations template. Everything’s in place.
When some people buy into a franchise, they’re often thinking first about the brand image, not the back end of operations that is such a big key to making it work. It speeds up the launch process for a new franchisee when we have boots on the ground in their territory. There’s only so much you can do by Zoom. There’s no replacing in-person training and idea sharing.
And really, training and an overall sense of sharing should never stop. Those factors are among the numerous keys to franchisee success:
- Follow the system. Deviating from a proven system can cost you your franchise. The procedures set forth by the franchisor are put in place to maintain brand consistency across the board. If the system isn’t working for you, talk about it with headquarters or other franchisees. Usually, the solution is better communication or additional training. Remember, following the system preserves the brand and protects your investment.
- Connect with other franchisees. It’s highly important to create good relationships with other franchisees, who can help you when you’re struggling. Maybe you need a different marketing approach, advice about an employee issue, or some wisdom that comes from another franchisee’s experience. You can start to do this networking by calling some of the franchisees you spoke with as part of your pre-purchase research. The goal is for you to have two or three franchisees you would feel comfortable calling with any issue that comes up. Knowing there are other like-minded owners available at a moment’s notice is part of what makes franchising so great.
- Recruit well and keep training your people. Good help is getting harder to find, and keeping employees from leaving is becoming another big issue for many companies. Treat your employees with respect and develop a fair schedule. Keep your staff informed of new marketing and other promotions. Make it fun. The beauty of franchising is it’s a repeatable system born of continuous training. A committed franchisee should learn everything they can from the franchisor, then take on a committed role as mentor to their employees. Hold refresher and advanced training sessions with employees, especially those who aspire to ownership themselves.
- Stay in a marketing mode. You have to create awareness of your product and its value in your community. To do that and stay top of mind among consumers, your social media marketing and local advertising must be effective. A smart way to reach customers and gain visibility is to get involved in the community through such avenues as charity events, high school sports sponsorships, festivals, seminars and business shows. The idea is to do things that remind people of what your business does and how it can serve them.
- Communicate consistently. This means with employees, customers, and the franchisor. Reach out to customers via email and social media. Write emails and blogs that customers can relate to, informing and engaging them. Find added-value ways to keep customers and reach new ones. The keys are brainstorming with your team and presenting customers with value they can always count on. As for your staff, your communication style will largely dictate what kind of work culture you have, and culture has a lot to do with success or failure. Be uplifting, steady, calm, and encouraging.
Many businesses were forced to adapt during COVID, and the franchising industry was a prime example of that. Corporate-level management reached out to help franchisees, strengthening the team concept that makes franchising so appealing. It was a reminder that surviving and thriving in adversity is the best preparation for future success.