To quote a now infamous celeb – “Hello World!” This is my debut blog post for Allbusiness.com, so I hope it provides the ab.com readers with some thought provoking ideas and insights for them to use during their day-to-day gigs.
As a communications consultant, there is nothing more that I like to do than write. So a shout out to Rieva and Maria for giving me this chance to entertain you all.
So, let’s get it started. Right now, I’m returning from the Franchise Times annual Franchise Finance and Development Conference in Las Vegas. I was invited back to speak to the crowd and since I couldn’t just repeat my PR and marketing spiel, I dug deep for a more interesting topic for the masses – How to Compete as a Franchise in 2010.
My CFE teachers would be proud, since I did some memory scans as to what I learned in my courses and I also tapped the various c-suite execs I chat with everyday during my day job. Interestingly, the premise of defining the principles was quite simple – happy franchisees drive successful systems.
As I’m sure you’re thinking, this “simple” premise is not so easy to achieve. The reality is that the last year of uncertainty has made most systems realize that success as a franchise does not just take a small group of people – i.e., management – but the entire company. Everyone plays a role.
Here is what I came up with for the 10 principles. I’ve ordered them based on what’s needed to prepare for this success, the execution and then results.
1. Find your franchisee soul mate. This has everything to do with determining the right franchisee profile for your company. Who is that ideal franchisee for your system? What type of person is mostly likely to succeed?
2. Define your brand message. Who are you? What do you stand for? This is an exercise of defining what is compelling, motivating and differentiating about your brand. If this message doesn’t meet these three criteria, start again.
3. Craft a reason to invest. Another message, but this one is directed to potential franchisees. Why should they invest – sometimes their life savings – in your business? This is about the business value of your company. What is the ROI for this franchisee? Define it and articulate every time you speak with a prospect.
4. Establish systems for success: The best franchises are the ones that have structured and predictable systems in place to help franchisees run their business. This includes everything from training, franchise support and marketing tools to fulfillment, procurement and call center systems. Gotta do more than give them an ops manual.
5. Right people on the bus. If you haven’t read “Good to Great” by Jim Collins, then go to Amazon. Nuf said.
6. Bullet proof your balance sheet. I go to these franchise conferences pretty often and feel I’ve gotten my finance education from Darrell Johnson from FRANdata So, Darrell hope I do you proud here.
Your franchisees need YOUR help to get the loan. No longer is it just up to them to present their finance case to the bank for the cash. The company must show the lender why you are a business worthy of investment. If you don’t use an FPR now, consider it ASAP. New FDD’s are due 4/1.
7. Build a strategic recruitment plan. The days are over that portals and direct mail drive franchise sales. Define your target audience (see principle #1), identify local (yes local) markets for growth and go visit them to market your concept. You want to grow in Wichita, gotta market there too.
8. Teach your franchisee to “be the mayor.” Not on Foursquare -– which can actually help too -– but what I mean is teach and encourage your franchisees to get out from behind their cash wrap and execute local store marketing plans often – weekly!
9. Achieve operational excellence. Duh! I know you’re thinking “of course” – but are you there? It’s Number 9 because it is a result of 1-8 above. This is more than do they use branded cups in the restaurant. It’s about compliance and consequences, ongoing training and brand protection.
10. (Drum roll, please) . . . Would your franchisees do it again? The ever present question during franchisee validation calls. What would your current franchisees answer to this question? If you don’t know, I’d encourage you to find out. Don’t leave this question unanswered. Your prospects are asking.
Would love comments to the above – good, bad and ugly. Your feedback will help keep this blog fresh and, hopefully, read by a lot of other folks like me who can’t get enough about franchising and small biz.
Thanks for reading.
Lorne Fisher, CFE, is CEO/Managing Partner of Fish Consulting, a national PR & marketing firm specializing in serving mature and emerging franchise companies. He speaks frequently at various franchise conferences and serves as an instructor at the International Institute for Franchise Education at the H. Wayne Huizenga School of Entrepreneurship in South Florida. Learn more at Fish’s Web site or Fish on Franchising blog. Contact Lorne via email or Twitter anytime.