Updated: May 18
The franchise industry is steadily growing, with more and more brand choices for potential franchisees seeming to emerge every day. Competition among franchisors is increasing rapidly. For brands interested in building a best-in-class franchise, this increased competition means having to dig deep to determine what other brands are doing and how to differentiate your brand from its competitors. As a franchisor, you want to be proud of the growing brand you are developing. This will lead to a brand that's very attractive to franchisees. Read below for seven tips to build a franchise brand you can be proud of.
1. Set Goals
Your current customers are a fantastic target audience for your marketing efforts. This group visits your store often and likely already has an affinity for who you are, what you offer and what you stand for. Who better to represent your franchise than a loyal customer -- a brand ambassador?
Current customers can also share their experiences and strong affinity online via a number of different platforms, whether it be social media channels or writing for various review forums. Positive reviews may attract an entirely new audience of interested individuals as they look at a personal review as a credible source. Reading a positive post or review from a customer may be what tips the scale for a potential franchisee as they see just how great your brand is.
If you want to beat out the competition, the first logical step is to make sure you're fully organized in terms of what you want to accomplish, when, and how. Start by writing down a list of goals you wish to accomplish. Perhaps that means expanding the number of stores you have this year, or perhaps this means expanding into new territories.
Make sure that your goals are specific, actionable, measurable, attainable, and trackable. It's ok to have aspirational goals, but make sure they are within the realm of reality; otherwise, you risk diminishing motivation when your team fails to hit its goals.
Once you've outlined your major goals and confirmed that they're specific and attainable, next write down a timeline of when you'd like to accomplish your goals by. Having everything clearly documented and organized will allow your brand's journey to go as smoothly as possible, and it will also make it easier to align yourself with strategic partners as you go.
2. Create an Action Plan
You've got your list of franchise goals. Now, think about the steps your team will need to take in order to achieve each of those goals. Each individual goal that you set for your brand should include its own expanded action plan, including individual action items and steps that various parties will need to take.
When building your action plan, describe each step, who will complete it, who is accountable for it, and when it must be completed by.
Work with your team to assign these various responsibilities within your action plan. For each step, one team member should be primarily in charge of making sure it is complete. You'll also need to establish consequences for those who do not meet their deadlines. By establishing consequences upfront that everyone is aware of, you'll increase everyone's buy-in to the plan.
3. Hire the Right Talent
Getting the right people in the right seats is a vital step to building a best-in-class franchise brand. Your brand and your action plan are only as good as the team members responsible for it. For that reason, it's vital that you hire people who are bona fide experts in the areas where you need them.
Make sure that your team members excel at working independently and as part of your larger team. Even more importantly, make sure that everyone that is part of your team is willing to contribute and feels invested in the success of your brand. If you have detractors on your team who are rowing the metaphorical opposite direction as leadership in your brand, the result will be stunted growth.
Be sure to check references and the social media profiles of the candidates that you consider bringing on. Most anyone can be impressive for a 60-minute interview, but you'll want to make sure that you're doing your due diligence. Hiring the wrong person could cost you months of productivity.
4. Pick the Right Partners
The franchise world is complex, and experience is of the utmost importance if you're really serious about growing your brand. While a lot of the expertise required to get you to your goals will come from your internal team, part of building a best-in-class brand is aligning with premiere franchising partners to truly accelerate your growth.
A good strategy is to start by auditing the team you currently have and identifying talent gaps. For example, you may not have a legal, marketing, real estate, or fulfillment expert in-house. Fortunately, there are amazing franchise partners that specialize in these areas, and aligning yourself with these partners is an instant recipe for success.
When evaluating potential franchise partners, here are a few things to consider:
Your brand's strengths and weaknesses
The partner's history of success
How well the partner aligns with your brand's specific goals
How potential partners communicate and operate, and whether that aligns with your brand's approach
Above all, make sure to fully vet your potential partners before ever signing a contract. Take the time to conduct due diligence research to confirm you're aligning your brand with best-in-class resources.
5. Train Your Team
Having a world-class team and set of partners is great, but it's absolutely critical that you invest sufficient time into developing this talent in order to streamline things for your brand. Don't assume that top talent will naturally just achieve your goals. Whether it's an internal resource or strategic partner, communication and training are key.
Take the time to develop thoughtful onboarding processes for new team members and new partners. Include educational sessions that outline your brand, its values, its goals, and its plan to achieve them. For internal team members, make sure that you're regularly touching base as they ramp up, checking in at least once a day. For partners, be sure to check in at least once a week.
6. Find a Mentor
The best athletes, executives, and brands all have one thing in common - they leverage coaches and mentors to reach their full potential.
As a senior leader for your franchise, it's very important to find a mentor that you can trust. Even with the best team assembled, it can be a bit lonely at the top, as they say. You'll want a mentor that will be totally honest with you and who isn't concerned about saying the wrong thing to their boss.
Securing a trustworthy mentor will allow you to learn so much more than if you try to grow a brand all on your own. You'll also gain valuable lessons in leadership and growth that you can pass along to your team.
To find a mentor, look into various franchise organizations to see who they recommend. Be careful in the selection process and don't feel pressure to say yes to the first mentor you're matched with - finding the right fit is worth the extra effort and time.
7. Revisit your Plan Regularly
As your team, brand, and outside circumstances evolve over time, your franchise growth plan will need to evolve with them.
When it comes to your franchise growth plan, the biggest mistake you can make is putting it away on a shelf and never returning to it. Your growth plan is a living document that needs to be regularly reviewed and revised based on data in order to optimally perform.
Block time in your calendar to regularly review your plan on at least a monthly basis. Include key team members in your review session. In each session, spend some time looking at what worked well (so you can replicate success), what didn't work as well as you thought it might (so you can avoid repeat failures), and what opportunities you missed that you could capitalize on.
Now, with these seven tips right in front of you, you can apply these tips right into action! If you follow these steps, you’ll be right on your way to building that proud, successful brand you dream to have.
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