Franchising has been around since the 1920’s – but the joy of a franchise to a young entrepreneur today is that no matter how replicated a business may be, it is always fresh to the new owner. It comes kitted with all the essentials: a logo, a colour design, a value system, a primed product, a marketing profile, a ready-made customer base, an infrastructure that has already been nipped and tucked into shape.
If you have an entrepreneurial spirit, and you fancy yourself a business owner but you don’t want the trials and tribulations of a startup business, you might be the right person for…well, for a business which, after careful scrutiny, might be the ready-made fit for your ambitions and perspective.
While the business opportunity might be ready to roll – the entrepreneur might not be. Many people go through a number of business setups of their own before they see the potential of a franchise – and buying into the system is not necessarily cheap. You will need not only the vision, tenacity and single-mindedness of an entrepreneur but also the steady hand of an experienced professional working with you who will provide the support of a soundly developed structure and team dynamics.
Now, at this point, you might be thinking, ‘This is great! I’ll get a setup that requires no real hard graft because all the donkey work is done, and I’ll be able to coast along, coining in the money.’
No. This Is. Not. How. It Will Be!
Your story will always begin with your customers. You will need to get to know their needs, likes, dislikes, and pay personal attention to these aspects. This requires work. When you buy into a franchise, you buy into the customers’ trust. Are you going to keep up the standards and the quality? You will need to convince your customers of your fitness for the role – not so that you fit the role – but so that you fit your customers. Making sure the business makes money is one thing, but making sure you can provide your customers with the best experience out there, is another. Your customers should drive every decision you make.
Even if there is a marketing strategy already in place, you will still have to make your franchise your own through innovation and shrewd vision. From pamphlet drops to specials to social media, you must not stop for breath. You must find ways to entice and surprise your customers every day. To grab attention in today’s cluttered advertising world, you need to continually rethink your marketing strategy, while remaining within the paradigms of the franchise brand.
This is a tricky one because a franchise does not lend itself to your own ideas of changing logo designs or colour décor of stores. However, there are still ways to capture attention and revitalize your brand. This is where your real creativity will come into play; remember when you were dreaming about your own business, and skipping happily through a meadow filled with flowers? Well, this is the time to put that vision into play. How do you do that? Competitions, specials, event dates, wonderful storytelling ads, free gifts (something decent) collect-items and prizes for the kids. But however you approach your marketing, be geared to disrupt tradition. Why not make your own story part of the journey you take your customers on? You are an individual and entirely different from the next franchisee in the chain. Use your own personality and engagement to differentiate and influence.
You will have to focus on store upgrades, technology upgrades, always on time delivery, operational management, and keeping up with trends in a rapidly changing market. So the initial idea that everything has been done and you can just coast along as a franchisee, should begin to fade. And rightly so. Everything you can do to improve your operation and the experience of your customers is an investment in the future of your business.
So, if your story is still one of investigation before stepping out into your own business, and you are an entrepreneur who likes to hit the ground running, who enjoys collaboration and a business model tested and assured, then finding the right franchise is the way to go. Knowing the road has been established and walked some part of the way is comforting, but developing your own brand of management and customer relationship, is still supremely in your own hands.
If you would like to learn more about franchising, how to get started and connect to the franchise industry join as at the Franchise Indaba in November.