In 25 years of franchising, I’ve learnt that four key ingredients define a good franchisor: recruitment, support, communication and vision. Get these right and you have a recipe for success.
A franchise is only as good as its franchisees. And franchisees are only as good as the recruitment process. If a franchisee turns out to be ‘not right’, then something has been overlooked in the recruitment phase.
All franchisors should have what I call an ‘attribute template’ detailing the sought-after characteristics of would-be franchisees.
At The Bardon Group, I am looking for people who are disciplined, organised, hardworking, and energetic, with good people and communication skills. But more than this, I want to know ‘will they listen?’. This is vital, because they need to be able to follow the system, take advice and learn from others’ experiences as well as their own.
Hopefully, a good recruitment process will get you good franchisees. But it’s through ongoing support that you will help them grow their businesses.
Franchisors’ support structures vary depending on the size of the organisation but should encompass all the key business disciplines of marketing, business planning, finance, procurement, sales and operations.
Now, franchisees may or may not choose to take full advantage of the systems, tools and collateral on offer. However, as a franchisor it is your duty provide support that you believe will add value to the business and help the franchisee to grow.
My personal view is that communication with franchisees is the most critical factor for success. A good, strong relationship (aka marriage) between franchisor and franchisee is absolutely fundamental to the creation, development and ongoing success of the franchise.
Clear, regular and informative communication should be the cornerstone of this relationship.
I am a great believer in one-to-one visits with franchisees, and dedicate around two days per week to this. Personal visits help to build and strengthen the bond between the franchisee and the team of support staff.
However, visits are not enough in themselves. They need to be supplemented with regular newsletters, phone support, business planning meetings, regional get-togethers, annual conferences and an intranet. All of these have their place in the pantheon of good communication.
A good franchisor needs to have a vision of where the business is going and how it will get there. They should be leaders, constantly on the lookout for new business opportunities and additional revenue streams for the franchisees. Finally, they need to act as mentors, providing guidance, experience, knowledge and intellect.
To bring out the best in these ingredients, you need to give franchisees the freedom to run their businesses for themselves. Lay out a recommended plan for them to follow, then offer guidance along the way. But don’t tell them what to do.
Combine this with hard work, energy, good decision making and a little luck. In time you’ll develop a robust and resilient network of franchisees that inspire you as much as you inspire them.