Franchising in 2017: Attracting Great Franchisees

Gavin Culmsee | General Manager | Bedshed

Gavin Culmsee | General Manager | BedshedEarlier this month, Griffith University released its full Franchising Australia report to the market. The statistics in the report made interesting reading for any franchisor, and overall tells a positive story for franchising, and particularly retail; despite the flat economic environment Australia’s operated in over the last 12 months. The report found that more than 470,000 people are employed in business format franchises, and that the retail industry dominates the sector, with 26 per cent of brands operating in this segment.

While this is good news for the industry and attractive for prospective franchisees; the report did highlight a fall in franchise brands from 2014-2016. This means those considering a franchise may be looking to be selective with the franchisor they chose to join.

Franchisors therefore need to ensure they are doing the right things to attract the best candidates to join their franchise and see them into a prosperous 2017. These are the three things that franchisors need to get right

Flexible growth strategy

Franchisors must be astute to new opportunities in the market and be prepared to adjust their growth strategies accordingly. For sales based industries, online commerce is an obvious example of this opportunity. It’s no secret that rapid technological advancements and disruption are a fact of life in contemporary commerce. In order to stay relevant and competitive in the market, it’s essential that franchisors are keeping abreast of the latest technology and trends.

The Franchising Australia report shows a third of businesses engage in online sales, which I expect will increase over the next 12 months and into the future. Franchises that do not evolve and offer online sales will in all likelihood be left behind. Consistent with this trend, Bedshed has been rolling out its own ‘click and collect’ model with astonishing success.

Business Growth

This also translates to offline improvements – as a franchisor, are continual improvements to your customer experience part of your growth strategy? At Bedshed, this is something we are constantly striving to champion. For example, we recently implemented an industry leading store  fitout (we call it our evolution fitout) which has been immediately effective in engaging and captivating the imagination of our customers while in-store.

Know and communicate your USP

Like it or not, prospective franchisees have a choice as to what brand to join. How are you going to entice them to yours?

Do you have a very collaborative process? Do you not require any input from franchisees? Are there benefits (such as overseas travel) involved in joining? Be clear on who you are and what you’re offering. For example, at Bedshed we strive to differentiate ourselves by fostering an open, two-way healthy relationship between the Bedshed Central Office and our franchisees. We ensure our franchisees are always aligned with the network and encourage them to get involved in decision-making processes as much as they wish.

The second thing is to think about if and how you are communicating that message. Is it clear in your advertising and communications? If it is, you’re more likely to get more informed prospective franchisees through the door, who know what your brand is about and want to be part of the team.

Know your competition

Industry knowledge is incredibly important to the successful franchisor. Though it’s important to have a USP, having blinkers on to the competition is a fast track to failure. Make sure you are aware of what your competitors are doing and how they are communicating to prospective franchisees. While it might be different to your own game plan, significant moves by competitors could be a catalyst to changing your own plans. You can stay aware of the landscape in conversations with suppliers and prospective franchisees.

The Franchising Australia report offers consolation to the franchising industry that the model is strong, and able to weather economic storms. But despite the success of the model, a business is only as strong as its people.

Attracting great franchisees is a high priority for most franchisors, and to do this, businesses need to make sure they are evolving their practices and conveying this improvement to the market. This will ensure that your franchise brand will not only survive, but grow and flourish.

Gavin Culmsee is the General Manager of Bedshed, a national bedding and bedroom furniture specialist. With more than 30 years’ franchising experience, Bedshed has a long history of satisfied customers and successful franchisees. Bedshed is a trusted member of the peak body for Australian franchising, the Franchise Council of Australia.