The success of your franchise depends on myriad factors – both internal and external – but you can maximise your chances of real success by doing exhaustive preparation at the start and keeping in mind a number of on-going factors.
According to the British Franchise Association (bfa), in the two decades up to 2012 the franchising industry in the UK has more than doubled from around £5 billion to £13.4 billion per year. This level of growth should be a prime indicator that there is success to be had – but how do you make sure your business reflects this success story?
Of course, there are never any guarantees in business – of that you can be sure! However, a combination of the working knowledge you have and the way you deliver a service can put you in a strong position. In some ways, ‘success’ is a relative term, so it can help to establish in your own mind what you want from the franchise agreement – a high sell-on value? A profitable business? A job where you can maintain your ideal work-life balance? You are not going to be a millionaire overnight, so be realistic.
The starting point for your success will always be your preparation…
Assuming that you have already chosen a franchise, the key to making it a success is to know as much as possible about the situation. Who are your customers? What businesses are there nearby? How wealthy is the area generally? Do you know the local community? How will the location of your business affect you? What is your product’s USP?
In some senses, it comes down to understanding whether there is existing demand for your service/product – and if there is not, how will you create demand? Your franchisor will have a blueprint for success and you will be expected to follow that, but knowing your customer base and your brand will give you the edge as markets evolve over time.
One important factor is that you ‘get’ the brand; you must understand why the franchise is successful and the business model works, otherwise you may get in a muddle later down the line. Speak to as many relevant people as possible – existing franchisees, the franchisor, industry bodies, etc. – and find out what pitfalls they encountered or if they have advice for your particular patch.
A major part of your job will be your ability to sell your service or product, so think about how you can make a splash when your franchise unit enters the local market, then continue to satisfy customers as you go on. Something that not all franchisees think of is how useful it is to become a visible part of the local community – both the business community and the neighbourhood.
Management – As the head of your franchise, it is up to you to take your operation in the right direction, which means ensuring there is sufficient capital to back up the business; recruitment and training systems in place to make sure staff are competent; and a strategy in place to not only take the business forward but also to motivate employees and impress customers.
Customer perspective – Part of what makes a franchise preferable is that you are trading under an already established name, so it gives you a head-start in many markets; however, it is still up to you to ensure that when each customer leaves your store/office, they leave satisfied. By always considering the customer perspective, your customer experience should maintain a high standard – a great way to encourage repeat sales and new leads.
Support – Another distinct advantage of being part of a franchise is the support you are given; so do not forgo this advantage – use it! If there are training courses, helplines, peer guidance or any other opportunities to improve your knowledge or get help, then make sure you utilise them. Other small businesses simply have to feel their own way to success, you can draw on huge banks of experience at times.
Analyse – Continual evaluation of your own position – measuring the success of marketing campaigns, for example – and research on your wider industry is really important for those who want guide their business to success. There is so much information available online, with much of it available for free. It is worth taking the time to stay up-to-date with everything that is going on. Knowing what is happening in your sector should also give you greater confidence in your commercial plan of action, which is a key attribute for a successful business owner.