Name: Iftikhar Hussain Location: Edinburgh...
Different franchisors provide support in different ways and the range, depth, and frequency will depend on the company but more so on the individuals concerned.
We run four businesses – Recognition Express, Kall Kwik, ComputerXplorers and The ZipYard – that covers B2B, retail and education, two of which have been in business for some 35 years, and it is with that experience I detail below the range of support that you should find across franchisors.
Direct access to senior management and directors
Running your own small business can be lonely and it then helps to be able to talk at a senior/ strategic level and have the opportunity to bounce ideas around.
Nobody plans to fail but often people do fail to plan – not by design or laziness but simply because real life gets in the way.
A good franchisor will make themselves available to help a franchisee put together a business plan.
It is important to get away from the minute by minute intensity of the business to refocus and prioritise what needs to be done to continue to move the business forward.
It is not though, in my opinion, the role of the franchisor to insist a franchisee does a business plan – rather the franchisor should take the position of a pseudo non executive director and advise, guide and assist.
Having a business plan is a good start but you need to keep it alive by regularly reviewing the plan.
Regular one-to-one reviews (monthly, quarterly, half yearly or annually depending on the business) are an excellent way for a franchisee to get expert advice on the efficiency of their business.
Keeping the network up to date with ‘what’s happening’; new ideas; marketing initiatives etc is essential and e-mail newsletters and/or hard copy bulletins sent regularly are a good way to keep everybody informed and interested.
We try to get our franchisees together twice a year to share best practice, discuss issues/solutions, network and have presentations on new initiatives, campaigns, products and services.
Similarly getting all franchisees together for a group conference has similar benefits to network meetings but will also add glamour, awards, recognition etc and generally conferences are about sharing good news.
I personally try to meet with franchisees every week and I am a great believer in meeting face to face.
Issues can be dealt with quickly; ideas can be discussed, debated and put into action straight away; initiatives can be chewed over and either discussed or added to the ‘things to do’.
Additionally, as previous – meetings with a franchisee allows them to take their nose away from the grindstone, to have some ‘strategic discussion’ and to look at the business from a different angle.
This will include:
< Production – how does the machines work.
<Procurement / Suppliers – working with suppliers to get the best support available in terms of price, MOQ, quality, delivery times etc.
<A Franchisor will inevitably have more ‘clout’ with the suppliers than an individual ensuring franchisees get a much better deal than if they were independent.
<Technical advice – can I embroider a 7 colour logo on a polo shirt??
<Finance Support – to assist franchisees in reporting their own financial package (P&L, cash flow, balance sheet); advise on credit control and cash management; to arrange preferential credit/debit arrangements where possible.
We use a PR agency to work with all our franchisees across all brands to gather local stories and to centre local awareness for franchisees.
The PR Company will also work at developing national brand exposure and on creating national stories/case studies that can be cascaded to a local level.
Be it collateral, tools, programmes or campaigns the franchisor should be constantly evaluating current support and as required introducing new tools for the franchisees tool box.
These then are ten component parts of the franchisor support pack.
It is not extensive and some franchisors will have some different support tools – but for me support is about availability of the franchisor, interaction with franchisees, practical advice to support the system and solid marketing and PR tools.
Of course it Is then up to the franchisee whether he/she uses the support system.