Go forth and multiply?
I recently met a prospective franchisee and the question was posed to me, “How do I know if/when I’m ready to take on more than one site?”
Whilst most of us are aware that you need to ‘walk before you can run’, and I would normally profess to ensuring that you have mastered one site before you consider multi site ownership, I must say I was impressed that this individual automatically associated the franchise sector as one where if you are successful in one site the possibility of multi site ownership can certainly be a reality.
Here is an edited version of what I went through (coffee breaks have been deleted for purpose of reader interest) and feel free to use some or all of this as your ‘how to know if you’re ready guide’.
This is definitely one area where successful multi site franchisees get it right. Without a trusted, reliable management structure you can run the gauntlet of possibly focussing on your new additional site at the peril of your existing one. So some basic questions to ask
yourself would be;
a. Who will manage the additional site and what does the outline of your management structure look like, including how many hours you will spend on each site per week?;
b. If you have a business partner, how will your roles and responsibilities be split up in relation to your relevant skills and experience? Dependant on your answers here you might find it sensible to have one of you maintaining your existing site while the other one focuses on your new site;
c. If you don’t have a business partner, has your manager been appointed on a full time basis? And if so, has your manager got the relevant experience and knowhow to run the site in accordance with your expectations? Remember you can’t always clone yourself exactly but if you have quality management who you trust and have up-skilled appropriately you are in a far better position than simply trying to manage multiple sites remotely (which usually means at the expense of either your existing business or new one);
d. Look at your staff training schedule and how you will actively manage your staff rosters.
This is an area which tends to get forgotten or thought-about post the decision of a multiple site being opened. Firstly, do you have a great relationship with your suppliers? i.e. do you pay all of them within their relevant trading terms? Can you rely on them to go above and beyond the normal course of business?
When I talk about a relationship with your suppliers I am also alluding to whether you can rely on them to assist with your Grand Opening Launch... think about it, you are a multiple site owner now surely you can try and leverage some economies of scale and ask for some giveaways/value added offers to help promote your opening. You won’t know unless you ask and you might be surprised how much suppliers will come to the party when posed with the opportunity. In this current environment, franchisors that are growing should always work closely with their suppliers to ensure their brand can be differentiated from competitors. And in this case you as a multi site owner should adopt the same philosophy. Over the years I have witnessed franchisees get some amazing deals from suppliers, probably even better
than a franchisor could, purely based on the quality of the supplier relationship they enjoyed.
This point closely links with the previous point. Do you actively participate in all marketing campaigns? If so, have a think about how you will utilise Local Area Marketing between your sites. Essentially what I am referring to here is whether you purchase all promotions within catalogues, or install all promotion posters and flyers to your store (if you are running a retail business obviously).
Relationship with your franchisor
Ask yourself the following;
a. Do you have a constructive relationship with your franchisor and their team? This is the one to be really honest with. Remember it’s your money and time you are investing so if things are strained and you own one store/site, what do you think is going to happen when you have more than one store?
b. Who started the conversation in the first place? Was it you or your franchisor? I have seen too many times franchisors offer multi site ownership to the wrong franchisee purely because it suited the franchisors plan, NOT the franchisee.
So ask yourself is this opportunity part of your overall wealth plan? If so pursue the discussions definitely, however if there is an overriding feeling of this being a good idea for the franchisors growth plans but not your personal ones hold your ground and wait until the time is right for you... there will always be opportunities in the future if you have aligned yourself with the right franchisor.
Are you all over your Profit and Loss and Balance Sheet in order to present a very strong case should you be seeking some finance for your additional site? We all know nowadays that our banking and finance friends really focus on the serviceability of a loan over the life of the business when assessing applications, so this is where if you know what your equity position truly is and can provide a solid repayment case based on cash flow budgeting you are giving yourself every chance to get competitive finance. Dean Salomone is a major contributor to the franchising and small business community and is regularly featured in industry publications and the general media.
Dean has been a long-serving Victorian State Chapter committee member of the FCA and until August of 2011 the President of the Victorian Chapter whilst sitting on the National Board of Directors of the FCA.
After an 18 month stint as National Franchise Manager for Hairhouse Warehouse, a national retail network of over 140 stores, Dean has combined two of his major passions – food and business - to become a director of Rozzi’s Italian Canteen, a six store emerging network
expanding nationally – buon appetito!
Phone: 0438 009 449