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So You’re Thinking of Franchising Your Business. How Can You Make It a Success?

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You own a successful business that you’ve built from the ground up; now it’s time to take it a step further, and you’re considering franchising as an option. It can be an excellent opportunity to generate revenue and expand your business, with many advantages. By partnering with motivated, entrepreneurial franchisees, you can scale quickly while minimising your growth risk. But is franchising your business the right move for you? Read on to find out what you’ll need to keep in mind when building a successful franchise network.

Consider your business model

Is your business profitable, with a solid model that can be duplicated? Does it lend itself well to duplication across territories (if you already have more than one branch, then you likely already have a proven case for this – but don’t be complacent, it is wise to open a pilot franchise)? Could you easily teach a franchisee the ins and outs? Many businesses can thrive as franchises, but some are simply not suited. It’s best to be honest with yourself before you take that first step.

Get expert legal advice

Structuring your franchise is complex. It’s worth investing in advice from a specialist franchise lawyer who has a good understanding of the franchising landscape. To be a successful franchisor, you’ll need a clear franchise agreement drafted by a skilled legal professional. This agreement lays out the exact terms of the relationship between all parties. You might want to start with the British Franchise Association’s affiliate directory; make sure you choose a solicitor with experience in franchising.

Write it all down

What’s the main attraction of buying a franchise, rather than starting a business from scratch? There’s a proven model to follow; and that includes every last detail. When you write your manual (or manuals!), make sure you cover everything, even things that seem obvious or trivial. Richard Langrick at Ashtons Franchise Consultancy suggests that your franchise manuals should cover the following:

  1. General business requirements, including:
    • HR policies and regulatory requirements (including workplace safety and data protection)
    • Marketing and sales approach
    • Recruitment and training
  2. Specific operating requirements for your business
  3. Core values of the franchise
  4. Expand on franchisee responsibilities laid out in the franchise agreement
  5. Monitoring and reporting procedures

Consider employing a professional manual writer to help with this mammoth task! It’s worth the expense and time to get it right; a well-written manual should become a constant reference for your franchise network.

Brush up on your marketing skills

So you’ve drafted your franchise agreement and manual, maybe run a pilot operation successfully, and you’re ready to grow a profitable franchise network. Fantastic – but who will buy a franchise, and why should they choose yours? Now’s the time to think like a marketeer and really sell the benefits! There’s some great advice out there, including these top ten tips for franchise marketing from Franchise Direct. Here are a couple of tips of our own:

  • It’s all about who finds you: not only should you advertise your franchise on the top portals and selling sites, but you need to consider what your potential leads could be searching for. It’s definitely worth taking a crash course on search engine optimisation (SEO) to make sure you get in front of the right people.
  • Harness the power of social media – especially video. If someone is interested in becoming part of your franchise network, they want to know what really makes the business tick. Depending on your sector, this might take different forms, but think creatively; why not create a ‘day in the life of a franchisee’ video series?

Design outstanding initial training

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: the best thing about buying a franchise is signing up to a proven business. But without high quality training to get the fundamentals of the format across, even the best business isn’t replicable. You’ve done the hard work of writing the franchise manual, so you should already know what’s important to convey to your new franchisees. How can you best train them to apply this knowledge for success?

While you’ll likely want to include some face-to-face training sessions to get new franchise owners started, complementing this with online learning is a great way to deliver key messages without overwhelming franchisees. Elearning offers a raft of benefits, including:

  • Huge reduction in training costs compared to fully face-to-face programmes
  • Maintaining consistency across your network
  • Creating a central source of knowledge for your franchisees
  • Updating franchise owners about key changes at the click of a button
  • Reducing your environmental impact significantly

To find out more, read our in-depth article about what elearning can do for franchises.

Keep the support going

Yes, your franchisees are self-motivated business owners with a desire to succeed – but that doesn’t mean they won’t benefit from ongoing support from head office. According to a 2021 survey by Workbuzz and the British Franchise Association, franchisee satisfaction really starts to fall after around three years in business.

Your more experienced franchisees may not require day-to-day support with running the business, but you can still offer a range of learning experiences to help them develop professionally, such as:

  • Leadership and management training
  • Marketing know-how
  • Guidance to prepare a business plan for a multi-unit opportunity

Providing these opportunities as elearning courses gives your franchise network the chance to access learning when it’s most relevant – and franchisees can complete them on their own schedule. Offering ongoing training needn’t be expensive or time-consuming for franchisors; with a tool like Nimble Author, you can easily create an effective course with no previous experience.

What are you waiting for?

Feeling fired up at the prospect of growing your business into a thriving franchise network? Get started by contacting the British Franchise Association, who run regular events and short courses to help you get your franchise off the ground, and make it their mission to support best practice in franchised businesses.