Starting and running a business takes an incredible amount of work and dedication, and many fail before they’re even off the ground. For those who are successful, the rewards are great and, there will often come the point at which a business owner starts to wonder what’s next.
Franchising your brand is a fantastic way of rapidly growing a business with a view to selling it sometime in the future. Although this can be incredibly lucrative, a lot of business owners struggle to know where to start. In this guide, we’ll take you through the ten steps to franchising your business and securing your future:
1. To franchise or not to franchise
The first – and most important – step is to decide whether or not franchising is right for you and your business. Franchising is most definitely not a ‘one size fits all’ solution and is not suited to every business. Before making this important decision, there are some very compelling pros and cons to consider:
- Franchising enables you to expand your business without using any of your own capital.
- Your business will enjoy new revenue streams through franchising fees and royalties.
- Your franchisees will take over the reins of selling your products while you focus on the creative areas of your brand.
- Franchisees are, by nature, more motivated and invested than regular employees.
- Setting up a franchise takes a fair amount of time and effort, including putting in place systems, standards and processes as well as creating documents such as manuals and guidelines.
- A franchised company can be a minefield of hidden expenses, including ongoing training and support.
- If a franchised business expands too quickly, there can be problems with maintaining quality control.
- As with any type of business, franchising carries a certain amount of risk – and disenfranchising can be extremely complicated.
2. Is franchising a good fit?
Your next step is to figure out if your business is suited to franchising and, here, there are a few things to look at:
- Track record – you’ll need to demonstrate to franchisees that a profit can be made from the business and, for this, you’ll need to be able to present results of your company’s profitability.
- Clonability – Does your business have an identity that can easily be replicated across many different branches?
- Branding – is your branding strong enough and recognisable enough to attract franchisees?
- Culture clash – are there any geographical or cultural barriers to franchising your business?
- Chain reaction – do you have strong and established supply chains?
All of these factors need to be taken into consideration when deciding if franchising is a good fit for your business.
3. In the planning
If your business is ticking all the boxes so far, it’s time to take a look at planning your franchise. It’s important to put together a formal plan to show what you intend to do and how your franchise business is going to work. This plan should include:
- Any factors – good or bad – which may affect your business model
- The management structure of your franchise business
- A map of your supply chain
- Expenses and revenue targets for your business
- Your requirements including funding, staffing and set up costs, as well as your current financial position
- The quality control process for your business
This will provide a roadmap for your business as well as forming a business plan should you require funding.
4. Proper processes
The secret to a successful franchise operation is to put together standardised processes that are easy for all of your franchisees to follow and run for themselves. This will involve creating manuals and documents and field testing these to make sure that they’re straightforward and effective.
5. Nailing the training
When franchising your business, the objective is that each branch offers the same quality and value – and that includes your staff. This means that you’ll need to design a comprehensive training program that will allow your franchisees and their employees to get up to speed quickly and effectively.
6. Creating your contract
At this stage, you’ll be looking to create a comprehensive franchise agreement to cover your franchisee’s interests as well as your own. Your agreement should include all aspects of the operation, including:
- Fees and royalties
- Standards of operation
- Dispute procedures
If you’re drawing up the contract yourself, it’s always a good idea to ask a solicitor to look it over for you to make sure that you have all your bases covered. You’ll also want to review contracts regularly to keep them up to date.
7. Make your brand shine
You no doubt believe that your brand is the best thing since sliced bread – now it’s time to make sure that this is the case.
At this stage of the process, you’ll be getting ready to attract franchisees to your program and, so you need to make sure that your brand is as attractive a prospect as possible. Take a close look at every aspect of your operation to see where you can improve and add anything that may be considered high value to a franchisee. Often, just a few tweaks are all that’s needed to turn your brand into a highly attractive proposition for potential franchisees.
8. Finding your franchisees
The time has arrived to find your franchisees – but the key here is in finding the right people. Unlike regular employees, your franchisees will be representing your business on every level, and so you’re looking for people who share your ideals and your enthusiasm.
Before recruiting, make a list of the must-have skills and experience and desirable personality traits – and stick to them. When recruiting franchisees, it’s vital that you spend a great deal of time getting to know them as well as running comprehensive background checks to help you avoid nasty surprises further down the line.
9. Start your support systems
Now that you have your fabulous franchisees and, they’re all raring to go, you’ll want to establish some support systems to help you get the best out of your people. Setting up employee support systems as well as quality control ones right at the start is a great way of putting standards in place, which will give you the very best chance of success.
To begin with, you’ll need to make sure that you have excellent technical and IT support. Issues such as inventory problems and issues with POS and tills can be disastrous for a business and, so your technical support needs to be as reactive and as efficient as possible.
Additionally, it’s important for franchisees to be able to get in touch with somebody quickly if they have questions and day to day issues with the business. A lack of support can quickly make franchisees feel disillusioned and stressed, so close attention must be paid here.
10. Launch and run
It’s an excellent idea to encourage your franchisees to hold an opening day event in order to encourage customers through their doors. Free samples and opening day discounts are both great ways of enticing customers to give the business a go. While launch day is extremely exciting – and the part you’ve been working towards – it’s by no means the end of the story.
Going forward, you’ll want to have comprehensive monitoring and reporting processes in place to make sure that all of your franchises are running effectively and consistently. When running your franchises, you’ll be looking to strike a balance between keeping your eye on things and interfering; therefore, building a strong relationship with your franchisees is essential.
Franchising your brand is a fantastic way of increasing the reach of your business and adding new revenue streams and, when done properly, can help secure an income not just for yourself but for future generations. In order to be successful, it’s important to trust your franchisees to manage their branches while keeping one hand on the reins; at least in the beginning.