Even ten years ago, there were so many franchise groups around which were managed more informally than today. As today, franchisees owned the business, but unlike today most franchisees were expected to manage their own marketing and sales as well as delivering the service or product to customers. Really franchisors were allowing franchisees to use their brand to make the job easier and, in many cases, not much else was offered in the way of support.
There is no doubt though, that business today is so much more complex and franchising even more so.
The growth of digital marketing means lead generation and marketing have to be managed by franchisors in most cases. It is too big and specialised a job for most franchisees to take on. Associated with that are other parts of business which are becoming more digitally aligned – communication systems, email, POS tied into a central bookkeeping system – the list goes on.
Franchising itself has also become more strictly legislated in the past five years or so and franchisors need to know more and have more control over what their franchisees are doing.
What this means is franchised business is becoming more sophisticated – a tricky situation for new franchisees especially those who are probably entering the world of business for the first time. They are facing a double whammy:
- Business is more digital and more complex
- They have more legal hurdles to climb
So, what is it that makes up a successful franchise group in 2023?
Well, Jim nailed it in the 70’s with his lawn mowing franchise and Jan Timms, in her new book, The Ultimate Franchising Success Formula, based on extensive research, has shown that principles Jim adopted are still evident today.
The foundation of successful franchises is great franchise support.
When Jim first set up Jim’s Mowing, he decided very fast that he did not want his franchisees trying to market their business. Most of his franchisees were not suited to managing cold calls or sales. Neither did he want them struggling with accounts at the weekend when they should be spending time with their families. So, he introduced his 131 number handled by a central call office and his franchisees only had to go to the home to deliver the gardening service. The call office also took the money at the same time, saving the franchisee the hassle.
Obviously today franchise support offices are more sophisticated than that – business and franchise complexity determine it.
So, what are the business trends behind successful franchise support in 2023?
Choose your franchisees to look after your customers and accept the business gaps
Well none of us are good at everything. The thing is though, it is usually your franchisees who are going to bring in the money so pick them to do just that – work with your customers, make them happy and build the group. Build on their strengths.
What this invariably means is many will not know how to run a business. And some will never want or be able to take on some aspects of business.
Build your systems
So, build your business systems to support your franchisees to do the best job they can to bring in the money.
If it means you do all the marketing and lead generation through things like social media and AdWords, then do just that. If it means you need to supply the best product for them to sell out of their café, then do just that.
And once your systems are in place – document them. Carefully so they are easy to find, and easy for your franchisees and their staff to understand fast when the pressure is on.
Then, if you do want your franchisees to grow to take on some business aspects; understanding financial management and expenses and local area marketing for instance, so they can grow their businesses. Then include those aspects in your systems as well as the technical parts of the job.
This includes your support systems
You want your franchisees to do the job of looking after your customers. What this means is you will need to clearly build a support system so you can manage them carefully and consistently. Which means that only if you document the way you want your support system to run, that your support staff will know how to do the job in a way that meets your leadership goals.
Walk the tightrope
Make sure your support is walking the tightrope between listening and building the relationship and making sure the job is being done the franchise way. Such a tricky balance for anyone to take on. The franchise relationship can be so fragile and letting it drop is fatal to that ever-important job of letting your franchisees bring in the money for them and for you.
Great training up front and ongoing
Never forget the importance of training. Every franchisor gives their franchisees some form of induction training. But the best training based on your operations manuals and business aspirations underpins your support systems and never ends. It helps your franchisees know how to do the job your way from the beginning, through each performance management review. And it provides the framework for franchisees to grow and become more sophisticated and knowledgeable both as technicians and business people.
Provide a career development pathway
Your great systems, documented procedures, training, and support will give your franchisees a career path so they stay with you, building their businesses, some becoming multi unit franchisees. What this does is gives people a career pathway within your franchise group. This is what the best groups from as disparate examples as McDonald’s and Just Cuts do. And with a service model such as Poolwerx, new franchise partners come into the group as mobile pool service technicians. With training and support some move on to become multiunit van owners then they take on a retail outlet or two or three. Some of their more sophisticated franchisees have been with him for 20 years.
Poolwerx founder John O’Brien is open about the fact that the growth of his outstandingly successful franchise group both here and in the States is due to his support system; one which is focused on building the Poolwerx family and training everyone to become better at servicing pools and building their businesses.
And that’s the secret to developing a successful franchise group in 2023