Separating the good franchise systems from a great franchise system goes beyond ensuring they have a proven model of success and unparalleled support, the two pillars of franchise stability. Many of the more than 3,000 franchise brands available can meet expectations in those two categories, but the great ones offer quite a bit more.
Mining for those nuggets of greatness is what franchise consultants like myself do before recommending a brand to a candidate. Where is the franchisor going beyond the normal expectations? What are they doing to innovate? What steps are they taking to ensure ongoing success of their franchisees?
That’s not to say that franchise candidates can’t succeed without a good franchise. As always, success in franchising is more about how well a candidate fits within a franchise system than all the nuances of the system itself. However, when considering multiple franchise systems that are a good fit for a franchise candidate, these are some of the key offerings that separate the best franchise systems from the rest of the pack.
A Real Estate Division – Whereas many emerging franchise brands are now home or mobile-based systems, most franchise systems still require real estate. Whether it’s a consumer-facing store or a warehouse in an office park, selecting the correct location will impact your expenses, your income and whether or not you are operating legally. Great franchise systems have real-estate divisions with experts that will help the franchisee every step of the way. From selecting the right property to negotiating a good lease, having an expert from the franchise system by their side ensures a franchisee gets their business launch off to a good start.
Leading-edge technology – Using the latest technology to your advantage is no longer an option for franchise systems. Technological advancements occur at breathtaking speed, meaning franchise systems that aren’t constantly looking for new ways to improve their system will soon be left behind. Inventory management, customer relationship, business hubs and marketing automation are just a few of the available offerings franchise systems have today. Many have fully developed apps for mobile devices, loyalty programs and even artificial intelligence at work, to ensure that their franchise system is fully prepared to lead their industry.
A fully developed marketing department – Many franchisees are surprised to discover how much of the marketing responsibility falls on them. For franchise candidates with a strong background in modern marketing who want to do more of their own thing, this may be fine. While a good franchise system will offer some level of marketing service at a national level, or through owned media like Facebook, the great franchise systems go well beyond that. They feature national advertising and publicity campaigns either done in-house or through third-party vendors. They provide customer relationship management software, complete with automated email marketing. They have fully-developed social media platforms and management teams dedicated to growing your reputation and reach. They have design services used to provide online and print graphics. They have relationships with philanthropies and encourage their franchisees to develop those relationships in their local communities. Their franchisees will still have marketing responsibilities in their own markets, but they offer a tremendous support team to help them succeed.
An ongoing training plan for management and employees – Good franchise systems offer training at the beginning of the franchise relationship, whether that be at the corporate headquarters, at the franchisee’s location or both. Great franchise systems know that onboard training is only the beginning of the process. Like all businesses, franchises evolve both slowly and rapidly, so ensuring their franchisees are equipped and trained on all company developments is critical to their success. They feature regional teams of trainers that are excited to work with franchisees to develop their expertise. They offer quarterly, bi-annual or annual gatherings to unveil new initiatives and make sure their franchise owners fully understand what they mean. They host webinars with third-party vendors, allowing their experts to speak directly with franchisees and help them learn about their offerings. They make their training manuals easily accessible and searchable, and they offer 24-hour phone service so that they can help the franchise whenever they need it. They have advancement programs to ensure that high-quality employees see a future with their brand.
Advisory councils – One of the best resources for franchise owners is their fellow franchisees. They are able to offer peer support through the early stages of a franchise owner’s development. They can share the wisdom they’ve accumulated through years of experience in the franchise system, and they offer creative solutions to new challenges. That’s way great systems look for ways to include their franchisees in the decision-making process as the franchise moves forward. Advisory councils can be a combination of corporate officials, board members, franchise owners and third-party vendors specializing in a particular aspect of the franchise. Advisory councils are created to consider new product or service offerings, branding, marketing, training and employee relations. By providing a good mix of viewpoints, they ensure that more of their ideas survive the creative stage and are able to be realistically and effectively implemented at their franchises.
No matter the product or service a franchise system offers, franchise candidates should expect a great franchise system to excel in most or all of these areas to increase their odds at succeeding in franchise ownership.
Let’s see if franchise ownership is right for you!