Is Franchising the Right Way to Grow Your Restaurant Business… or Any Business, for That Matter?

This past January I presented a webinar for about the ins and outs of franchising a restaurant business. Special attention was also placed on preparing to franchise and how doing so could significantly improve the business itself and provide a road map for multi-unit operations – even without actually proceeding into franchising.

Well, the response after the event was quite robust and led to us performing a number of franchise feasibility studies for independent restaurant owners in various markets across the country. Our recommendations were split on whether to franchise or stay the course as an independent operation. In the coming months, we’ll be able to see how our recommendations play out. In the meantime, interest remains high, not only for restaurants but also non-foodservice operations across a multitude of industries and industry segments exploring franchising as an expansion or growth strategy.

RSG_Logo_Rev3.pngLast month, in Restaurant Startup & Growth magazine, a publication, appeared an article by the RS&G staff, taking a deep dive into my webinar and philosophy about franchising a business. The article started out…

Some of the most successful brands – in any sector – are franchises. In the restaurant business, they are household names. For many independent operators, franchising their concept is the so-called “Big Hairy Audacious Goal”. Before you take that leap, there are a lot of small and critical steps to consider.

The rest of the article, Baby Steps – Is Franchising the Right Way to Grow Your Restaurant Business? may be read on pages 42-47 by clicking HERE.

Do Transitioning Corporate Executives [Really] Make Good Franchisees?

This question was discussed on Linkedin approximately a year and a half ago and there were some interesting responses. However, the further we drift from the onslaught of transitioning executives caused by the 2008-2012 economic downturn, maybe we should now pose a different question… How have franchisors fared since awarding focusing on transitioning executives?

We often look at franchise success as up to the franchisor, i.e. it’s the franchisor’s job to be sure franchisees succeed. But of course, we know that not all franchisees, including transitioning executives, are created equal. Some are better than others! People in transition may, in fact, not make very good decisions – maybe they may panic and jump into a franchise too quickly and they don’t do all the homework that’s necessary or possibly don’t ask all the right questions. Some actually have limited skill set to their former job.

It would be interesting for franchisors to reveal how “transitioning executives” have fared, though that’s probably asking a bit too much. Because again, even if the transitioning executives have failed, it doesn’t mean the franchise system is bad. Maybe the system is just not right for certain individuals?

It really doesn’t matter whether a candidate is a transitioning executive or an immigrant national or even a mom exploring business ownership instead of returning to the workforce. What matters is how well prepared a candidate is for franchising (and business ownership) and whether or not the candidate is a right-fit for a particular franchise, and the franchise for him or her. Because we also know that all candidates are not created equal. Nor are franchisors! It’s all the more reason to identify and develop ideal candidate profiles, and keep in mind, there may be several.

Any thoughts?

Success… It Starts and Grows with a Vision

In a recent interview, I was asked my opinion about why some Private Equity firms fail in their efforts at operating what was originally considered a successful franchise system, while others take the system to even higher levels of success… As you’ll see by my response below, I actually started at the end and worked backwards. But in the end there is a common theme and its built around relationships, or lack thereof. Certainly, systems play a big part in the success equation but losing sight of “people” is a sure way to create a disconnect, even within the most perfect systems. My response and theory may be too simple for many to agree, but I do feel it lends towards the foundation of any successful business in one way, shape, fashion or form.

“All too often you hear about founders buying out the Private Equity firm. I personally, know of two that have done so recently, and for different reasons. And, even though only one was a franchise company, there was a common denominator in the circumstances that had developed within the organizations that led to the founders deciding to buy out the PEs… the “parent” company lost sight of its relationship with its “employees & franchisees” and the end-users, “clients & customers”.

My opinion is that “true” mom & pop operations are typically built upon the foundation of relationships, and it’s the strength of those relationships that build the foundation of a strong organization complete with common beliefs, values and mission. It definitely becomes an interdependent relationship. I have rarely seen that occur when PEs get involved where it’s more numbers, numbers, numbers. Don’t get me wrong, numbers are important. But, it’s the lack of balance between driving towards making the numbers and building relationships that is often missing. Ultimately causing rifts in the organization with the customer or client feeling the lingering effect of diminishing service levels.

Let’s look at a similar situation that occurs all too often in a very typical mom and pop setting even without the inclusion of a PE in the equation. Mom and Pop have run a very successful business for 25 years. They have done quite well over the years, building the business very methodically, never taking on too much debt at any one time. But still progressive in growing to meet customer demands. Sure, their product or service stands out as excellent. But it’s the relationships they have fostered over the years that have truly made the business successful.

Looking ahead, Mom and Pop have structured a very strong succession plan. Junior has gotten his MBA and is primed to take over the business. In fact, Pop has insisted that Junior also work five or so years out in the corporate world so he can gain some hands-on experience, and mature. Mom and Pop have met with their attorney and CPA and have everything in place for Junior to take over the family business. What’s next is a situation that occurs all too often when Mom and Pop are no longer in the picture.

Junior, complete with new ideas, a wealth of education, and some successful business experience, begins operating the business. He introduces new technology, replacing the antiquated systems that had been in place since day one. Junior streamlined operations, improved inventory control, and basically tweaked here and there to the point that the business appeared to be transformed to a business that appeared bigger than it was – almost like it was a part of a national chain.

Initially, customers loved the transformation and the buzz within town was full of praise and admiration for the family. But what transpires over the next few years as things begin to change as the business becomes less personal and more structured is actually the beginning of the end.

Strict policies have been put in place for both customers and employees. Product and service lines have become more defined, but at the expense of some customer favorites being eliminated. Customer service, having become more automated has reduced the necessity of a large staff. In-store signage has taken over where courteous employees once stood. Well, the list goes on… to the point of the business losing sight of people and relationships. Employee turnover continues to increase. Customers’ faces are no longer familiar. And, when a true national chain opens on the edge of town, foot-traffic starts to diminish.

You see, with all the great succession planning that Mom and Pop painstakingly put into place, they missed a key component to the success of the business. And when Junior transformed the business he also lost sight of that key component. It basically comes down to WWPD… “What Would Pop Do?”

WWPD is basically the relationship part of the business. To put it simply, Pop knew when to put his arm around an employee. Pop knew when to come out from behind the counter. Pop knew how to make a customer feel special. Pop knew to carry certain items that some of his “regulars” loved. And, again, the list goes on… Pop knew, but Junior didn’t. It’s the classic example of the disconnect between WWPD and MBA, and it’s a similar disconnect between a founder-run business and a PE-operated business.

Now, I’m not saying that it can’t be done, or shouldn’t be done… meaning the sale of a successful business to a PE. Absolutely, it’s the American Way! Instead, along with the financial and legal succession plan needs to be a visionary succession plan that basically outlines and teaches, “What Would Pop Do?”

So, in addressing the original question, let’s just insert Mom and Pop for the franchise, the employees and customers for the franchisees, and Junior for the PE… and the scenario fittingly plays out.”

Controlled Growth Key to Success for New Franchise Concepts!

Working with entrepreneurs exploring franchising as a business expansion strategy, I’m often asked the question, “How does a new franchise company sell franchises without brand recognition?” Here are my thoughts…

Initially, the founder is the brand. It’s his or her passion for the business. It’s how he or she treats customers and employees alike. It’s how the business is promoted within the local market. Not just through typical advertising efforts, but through solid grassroots, organic efforts.

The initial franchise candidates are actually the “low hanging fruit” of the original business. These are the customers that inquire whether or not the business is a franchise and how they can learn more about owning their own. Most are interested because the business appears to be thriving and they’ve seen the owner (founder) time and again, always smiling and shaking hands. Public Relations efforts should ensure this occurs.

They admire the owner a great deal and will base their decision to open a franchise location, on the potential of establishing a relationship with the owner. They’ll compare the opportunity to other franchises and justify to themselves that they’re in on a ground floor opportunity with a direct line to the founder. As such, they feel their probability of success is greater because their location will be in the home office city and if they need help, they could easily approach the founder and the home office because of the proximity to their franchise location.

Ideally, the next few franchisees will also be in the same market as the original business and the first franchise location. It’s prudent to only expand locally until critical mass is established in the market, ad cooperative is developed and support systems are perfected. Now the concept is ready to expand outside the initial market.

However, it is often financial suicide to entertain requests from candidates all over the country. Instead, development efforts should be concentrated on one or two cities relatively close to home office city. For instance, if original business and home office is in Houston, the natural progression would be to promote the opportunity next in San Antonio/Austin and Dallas/Fort Worth areas.

As these markets start to become established with franchise locations, it’s advisable to promote the concept in another two or three areas. Maybe, explore another “hub” and “spoke” scenario. Let’s say, Atlanta as the next hub.

Expansion efforts should be the same as they were in Houston and expansion out of that market shouldn’t occur until Atlanta has a critical mass. Then, when that occurs, the opportunity could be promoted close by in Nashville and Charlotte. Now, you see the spokes of national expansion beginning to form.

While this is going on, maybe inquiries start coming in from the San Francisco area. So, the next phase of expansion might be in the Bay Area. The Bay Area becomes another hub, and once developed, the franchise opportunity could be promoted up the road in Portland and to the East in Sacramento and the process continues.

It’s all about controlled growth and the founder exhibiting tremendous restraint in expanding too fast and in areas far away from his core group and subsequent hubs to be able to provide ample support, create ad cooperatives and build the brand geographically. Chances of franchise success are far greater at all levels of the franchise organization within the parameters of a controlled plan of development.

So, to answer the often-asked question directly, I suggest everyone in the system having a clear understanding of the founder’s vision and if it includes anything but a controlled development plan with his or her firm commitment to actively participate in the franchise sales process, the chances of selling the first ten to twenty franchises will be a frustrating, monumental task that most likely will fail miserably.

Strengthen Franchise Relationships by Starting with “Thank You”

imageTo celebrate Labor Day I posted on the International Franchise Association’s FranSocial site the lyrics to the Alabama hit song, “Forty Hour Week” as my way of expressing gratitude for the many, many workers that make our great country run each and every day. We take so much for granted when things run smoothly, almost seamlessly. And then, it hit me as I reread the last verse of the song…

There are people in this country who work hard every day
Not for fame or fortune do they strive
But the fruits of their labor are worth more than their pay
And it’s time a few of them were recognized.

Wow, how could I miss something that should be standing out front and center? Is it obvious? Do you see it yet?

Okay, let me make it easier to spot. In the verse above, change “people” to “franchisees” – Ah, there it is!

There’s so much discourse today about the franchise relationship and it really doesn’t need to be the case if we truly focus on relationship basics, and that starts with appreciation. Do you agree?

Think about when a franchisee signs their franchise agreement and remits the franchise fee – we tell them, “thank you” and recognize them in our newsletter as a new franchisee.

Now, ask yourself, Is that the last time they’re actually thanked or recognized? Sadly, often it is. But, I’m not just referring to systemwide accolades. I’m talking about picking up the phone, planning a visit or, at the very least sending a hand-written note just to say, thank you and that you appreciate the investment they’ve made in the brand, how they’re committed to the brand and in how they represent the brand.

So, why not jumpstart an improvement in your brand’s culture by starting with, “Thank you”? After all…

There are franchisees in this country who work hard every day
Not for fame or fortune do they strive
But the fruits of their labor are worth more than their pay
And it’s time a few of them were recognized.

Entrepreneurship as Defined by Franchise Professionals

Last year on Facebook I asked the question, “How do you define entrepreneurship?” To my surprise the discussion was quite vibrant as there were over 25 responses, a few exchanges for further clarification, numerous likes, and really some great perspective into entrepreneurship. Below please find some of the responses (and subsequent comments to other responses). I’ve only included responses from franchise professionals. So, if you would like to emulate their success in franchising, this might be a good place to start, or at least gain some insight into their way of thinking. Upon reading the same, please share your thoughts about entrepreneurship. Thanks.

How do you define entrepreneurship?

Stan Friedman – My favorite definition has always been as follows: “Entrepreneurship is living a few years of your life like most people WON’T, so that you can live the rest of your life, like most people CAN’T.”

Ashley Graham – Entrepreneur: Anyone who takes the napkin drawing, turns it into something they are proud of and their business can actually run without them.

JoAnn Lombardi – Someone that is willing to endure risk to take responsibility of their financial future.

MaryAnn O’Connell – A dreamer who is willing to take risks. It has nothing to do with success – that’s an entirely different definition.

Nick Gugliuzza – I love all of the above. But to me it all comes down to money. It’s someone who took a financial risk to run there own business and who gets a well deserved financial reward at the end of the day. It’s the old risk to reward theory. Lets face it that’s what drives entrepreneurs. It’s all about the money. No apology necessary. Lol.

Georgina O’Hara – Money drives some more than others. For many it is the satisfaction of seeing an idea “take hold” and create “value” however that is ultimately defined. That part is more personal. Risk is inherent. Work is necessary. Success. Failure. All elements to be navigated. For some the journey itself is important. For others, yes, it’s just about the money.

MaryAnn O’Connell – (additional comment) There are many entrepreneurs who have tried and failed financially. That does not strip them of the title. And there are many who “deserved” a financial reward, but for many reasons, didn’t get it. Most often, in franchising, the founders were entrepreneurs: they had vision, passion and enough sense to get the business to a level that attracted others. Then great business managers took it over the finish line. So, again, I think we have to separate the idea from the result when defining these terms.

Amy Nichols – Executing your idea!

David Leoncavallo – A person who believes in all things, hopes in all things, bears all things, and endures all things.

Nick Gugliuzza – (additional comment) Again all great answers in response to a thought provoking question. I’m a BIG FAN of Shark Tank which airs on Friday nights. One of the Sharks has a favorite saying. That is “It’s all about the money”. You see an entrepreneur who tries and fails, although admirable, is not called an entrepreneur they’re called BROKE. I know this sounds cold but the point of going into business is to make money. If you don’t do that you’re out of business and again you’re called a failure not an entrepreneur. Any half head can start a business but it takes a true entrepreneur to stay in business. I hope I’m not offending anyone. I’m just sayin.

JoAnn Lombardi – (additional comment) Yes Nick, we don’t like to crush anyone’s hope and dreams. But in my opinion….only. Many people file bankruptcy a few times before they become a success. Look at Donald Trump, he failed and failed again and is a success in his own right and he is one of many. Same goes for marriages…and I am not a pro at this topic, but many people fail in marriages but keep looking for their soul mate and someday find it because they believe that opportunity is out there for them to seize and they never give up. I believe it is the will to keep moving and be passionate for what you want to achieve and being resourceful that guides you to success and resembles the character of being an entrepreneur. My two cents…

Nick Gugliuzza – (additional comment) How does that saying go? “If at first you don’t succeed try try again.” When that passionate would be entrepreneur does finally succeed at becoming profitable then I’m willing to award them the crown of entrepreneurship. Before that happens all they have is a hope, a dream and a prayer. Make no mistake I soooo applaud those with the guts to try and I applaud even louder for those who have tried and failed and tried and failed again only to become a success in a future endeavor. I love that spirit. It comes from the deepest depths of their heart’s and souls. How can one not admire that spirit. It’s the American Way. I love this exchange. What a great thread. Thanks Paul Segreto.

JoAnn Lombardi – (additional response) Right on! I’m glad to have participated and be better bonded with my friends. Good night all…Big business day tomorrow…Let’s make some M.O.N.E.Y!

Paul Segreto – Somehow or another we should take into the equation a quote at – “As entrepreneurs we should be proud of what we create.” – Evan Carmichael – so, how much does “creation” play into entrepreneurship?

Liberty Harper – Creation is the foundation…the Entrepreneur is the creator and the risk taker (not just financially but emotionally, reputation, etc) but the Entrepreneur is also passionate so the the risk is minimized by the passion as their laser focus overcomes perceived obstacles….

Georgina O’Hara – (additional response) Isn’t the “creation” of an enterprise and “creativity” all ways of describing nuances of the same thing? Just as entrepreneur is related, these days to the word enterprise. Isn’t “an enterprising entrepreneur” a redundancy as much as a “creative creation”?

Steven Greenbaum – One day, you wake up after pursuing your passion and vision with little regard for risk or the downside and find that you have built an incredible business. The thought of being an entrepreneur never crossed your mind. The fear of failure, never a consideration. Competition, economic crisis, managing change; all opportunities to compete and improve. You live for this stuff, — you thrive.

Ivan Widjaya – Entrepreneur = someone who is willing to continuously learn for better ways to solve problems.

Lee Plave – Someone with a vision, drive, a willingness to undertake risk, and the passion to see it through.

Greg Krikorian – I enjoyed reading all the meaningful comments. There are words that we always hear when the conversation is about entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship (i.e Risk, passion, failure, money etc..) in my opinion we are all born with qualities of undertaking risks, rising from falls and failures, and passion to live and succeed. We all have them in our instincts; I would call it entrepreneurial spirit. All these qualities will come into play when and only: One (an entrepreneur) desires to do something no one else done it before, or a desire to achieve more than others thought possible; by doing a change and playing a game they will love, the business game. And of course the money will come at the end as a reward and the fruit of the hard work. Thanks Paul for sharing.

Tim Tanner – All of these philosophical/high level definitions of entrepreneurship are correct. Entrepreneurship means something different to each and every one of us. After all, no two entrepreneurial journeys are equal. Having worked for myself for 14 years and with a start-up for 5 years prior to that, I’d like to break it down to what entrepreneurship means to the crazy microcosm called my brain. To me, an entrepreneur believes in Possibilities (of something). An entrepreneur has the vision and burning desire to find a need and fill it. An entrepreneur has the cajones to not only talk about it but “just do it”. He/she has the guts to sell himself and his dream. He/she has a real commitment to quality and customer service. A true entrepreneur is money motivated but not money driven, and he/she understands and accepts that he is the last person to get paid at the end of the day. And finally, a true entrepreneur is willing to swallow his/her pride no matter how successful he gets, and constantly listen and learn from others.

Greg Kopchuk – Someone who makes something happen and gets it done, starting with nothing!

Lonnie Helgerson – A clinically insane person with a dose of ADD. Add two parts insecurity, ten parts passion, ten parts creativity. Mix well with five cases of aggression and perseverance. Spice liberally with vision, positive attitude, and a dash of ignorance. Serve on a large platter of hope and courage. Wash down meal with gallons of adrenalin. Repeat recipe.

Lonnie Helgerson – (additional response) It was easy… I just described myself! LOL

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Franchise Failure – What Would You Do?

The following is an excerpt from a recent article on about business failure. The article, Five Businesses That Did Not Survive 2011 included one business that was a franchise… actually, a franchisor, Just Mouldings. The excerpt about Just Mouldings demise was subtitled, “We Did Everything Right”.

In my ongoing dedication to franchise success at all levels, I always attempt to analyze why a franchise business succeeds, and why one would fail. As we work our way out of economic uncertainty I’m sure we’ll have more and more opportunity for analysis, and as the excerpt details, we’ll see more identified as business failure due to the economy… which was listed as the reason for Just Mouldings’ failure.

In this case, the principals stated, “We did everything right” and I’m sure they truly believed they did. I’m also sure they did all they felt they could do. Especially as they faced an uphill battle of selling a non-essential product in an economy that saw many consumers limit their spending to necessities.

So, let’s put on our thinking caps and dig into our extensive experience in franchising and business management and attempt to define how this franchise could have succeeded. Let’s look at this as a workshop of sorts. After reading the excerpt below, please share your thoughts as to what you might have done differently if you were in the position of leading this franchise.

Certainly, this is not an attempt at diminishing the efforts of the Just Mouldings’ principals. Instead, let’s look at this as an exercise where we can assist other franchisors (and franchisees) that may be facing similar challenges. If, through our collective efforts, we can assist franchise businesses from failing, even if it’s just one, then we’ve accomplished a great deal. And, it may just help someone from losing their life savings, or help franchisees within a failing franchise system cope and survive despite franchisor failure.

‘We Did Everything Right’

Just Moulding, based in Gaithersburg, Md., sold and installed decorative molding. It opened in 2004 and closed last April.

AT ITS PEAK Mark Rubin and Kevin Wales started with a single workshop that handled small jobs larger installers did not want. In 2007 things were going so well they decided to sell franchises in the business and raised $700,000 from 21 investors. After Mr. Wales left the company in 2010, Mr. Rubin’s father-in-law, Richard Hayman, took over as president. Soon after, sales increased by 20 percent and the company became profitable.

WHAT WENT WRONG The recession. The company, Mr. Hayman said, sold a product that people wanted but did not need: “It was crown molding, not a furnace or a roof.” And while the business had the high legal and accounting costs associated with selling franchises, it had sold only three by the end of 2009. Potential franchisees had trouble raising the $100,000 to $250,000 needed to get started.

LOOKING BACK “We did everything right,” said Mr. Hayman, who sank $470,000 into the company. “We hired the best people and had a great product. We could not overcome the bad economy.” He and Mr. Rubin declined to discuss what they are doing now.

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Unique Franchise Model Raises Questions…

As most everyone in franchising knows, the Chick-fil-A franchise opportunity is quite unique, especially as compared to thousands of other franchise opportunites across all industry segments.

It appears Chick-fil-A has been quite successful with this unique business model, so why haven’t more franchisors followed suit? And, for the ones that have, why haven’t they succeeded?

With respect to a recent article’s reference to average franchisee profits, are there potential issues with Financial Performance Representations in the franchisor’s Franchise Disclosure Document?

Here’s a thought as I compare Chick-fil-A to other franchises… Should Chick-fil-A really be considered a franchise?

Hey, don’t get me wrong… I admire a company that affords individuals the opportunity to earn significant income, provides a great product and customer experience, and stands by its convictions (Closed on Sundays for religious reasons). My questions are entirely focused on the franchising aspect. Is it really a franchise?

Is the Chick-fil-A model more successful from the perspective of failed locations than other franchise chains?

From a business standpoint it appears there is much to be learned from Chick-fil-A. So, why aren’t more franchisors developing similar business practices, even beyond the franchise practices.

Looking to keep this positive… and really looking forward to all thoughts, insight and perspective!

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What Excites You About Working Within Franchising?

What an extraordinary time it is in franchising. Many of us are still riding high from the IFA Convention. Approximately 160 franchise professionals attended the Franchise Unconference last week in Utah. It is my understanding turnout at this week’s Franchise Finance Conference in Las Vegas was very good. And, in a few weeks many of us will be in Washington DC for the International Franchise Expo. That’s just a great deal of positive energy in a six-week period within franchising. Certainly, it’s exciting to be working in franchising as the economy continues to rebound.

Of course, it’s easy to be excited when there’s a load of positive energy at showcase events. Seeing long-time friends with similar interests and objectives adds to the excitement. It’s also relatively early in the year, and many are filled with New Year’s resolutions that have yet to be challenged. Optimism fuels excitement! But, let’s take a step back and look at the core of franchising. Let’s evaluate why we have decided to continue earning a living within franchising. Through the worst of economic times, with franchise sales bottoming out, why did we hang around instead of doing something else for a living? Sure, many will say there weren’t other jobs available. But, I truly believe there was more to it than that.

Approximately eight months ago, in the LinkedIn Franchise Executives group, I asked, What Excites You About Working Within Franchising? and received over 50 responses. Let’s take a look…

John Teza, President at Janus Brands, responded “Empowering an individual to change their lives. No matter the intended change, be it in terms of income, lifestyle, or equity building, for many individuals, opening a business is a life changing experience. Playing a small part in that transformation is very rewarding.”

Lyndsey Jardine Wolfsmith, Business Coach at The Entrepreneur Source, exclaimed “Love your question Paul! I think franchising is fascinating…there are so many facets from developing a successful franchise model to helping clients understand the sheer breadth of options. When you are surrounded by all that variety, how can you not be excited!”

Even The Franchise King, Joel Libava, chimed in “I really enjoy moving folks away from corporate employment, so that they can have their shot at the American Dream. (Only if it makes sense to do so on a whole bunch of levels) I also enjoy providing an independent perspective on the state of franchising in a very gentle way.”

Many of the responses spoke about the satisfaction of putting people in business, helping them achieve the American Dream. And, despite what franchise professionals went through at the low point of the economic downturn, some only needed to be reminded of the passion behind franchising to get moving back in the right direction as evident by the following response…

Kevin Joiner, former, President at Crye-Leike Franchises, stated “Wow! Reading all of these positive comments re-energize me dramatically. I agree with many of the comments. I am the FORMER president of a Real Estate franchising company that operated primarily in the Southeastern U.S. Unfortunately, I was required to layoff my complete staff effective March 1, 2010 (as a cost-cutting, cost-savings measure) and turn over franchise system oversight to the founder and owner of the parent company. Having grown the organization from virtually nothing, into a $500 million dollar sales enterprise with approximately 50+ franchisees in six years, it was hard to take. However, I am expecting to hopefully regain momentum and move forward with another organization soon.”

Many ask how I would answer my own question…

“I’m excited to work within franchising because I get many chances to help franchise organizations succeed at all levels. I know that’s a lofty proposition, but it’s true. It’s what I’ve dedicated myself to as I have recovered from a near-catastrophic experience ten or so years ago as a once-successful multi-unit franchisee that took his eye off the ball and subsequently failed. Certainly, it would be easy to reflect upon what that experience did to me. But there are other things to consider as such experiences can effect entire franchise organizations. There could be collateral damage, and at times, a ripple affect.

Of course, I do what I do to earn a living and provide for my family. But I could do that in a host of different industries or business environments. Instead, I chose to put the bad experience aside and focus on how I can help others within franchising. Not only to avoid the mistakes I’ve made, but to focus on best practices that lend towards franchise success at levels.

With extensive experience and success in franchise marketing and development, and in training franchisees and franchise staff alike, gained in the various positions I have held for franchisors, I have focused my attention on making a difference in franchise organizations in these key areas. Sure, many know me from my almost incessant social media activity, but I’m just embracing what I believe to be a tremendous technology and communications tool that when utilized effectively and coupled with best practices, will contribute to franchise success at all levels.”

In case you haven’t noticed, it is also the same response when I’m asked, What is it that I do?

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Utilizing Social Media for Franchise Success

I believe anything a franchisor does should be done to benefit the franchise relationship, and social media plays perfectly into this philosophy as it affords interactivity at all stages of the franchise relationship. From prospecting for qualified franchise candidates to supporting current franchisees, the utilization of social media tools and technology creates environments that strengthen relationships, shares information, provides two-way communications, and provides points of reference for follow up. It creates a multi-tiered platform of information that benefits both franchise development and customer generation efforts alike. Often, simultaneously.

For franchise startups, the founder’s vision of the concept is paramount to future success. They are perceived as the concept. They are essentially the brand. At least until a significant number of franchises are awarded and brand awareness is established across multiple markets, they are the inspiration for franchise candidates. The benefit to spreading this message through social media outlets such as social networking, video sharing, blogs, etc. is that these tools and associated strategies will generate direct excitement about the business model while generating subliminal, subtle interest in the franchise concept. This establishes a perfect foundation for growth. It also defines a very worthwhile, visible support mechanism for franchisees. Of course, it’s imperative to have a well-defined support system in place for training and assisting franchisees.

For established franchise brands, it’s a matter of improving brand awareness in current markets while creating brand awareness in new markets, and markets that are on the horizon for expansion. Again, as with startup franchise concepts, the interactivity created by social media makes it a viable option in driving customers to franchise locations and generating interest in the franchise concept. But, what’s important in a mature system, and a complement to its franchise development efforts, is the improvement of communications throughout the franchise system that is created by social media activity and ultimately lends itself to validation of the franchise concept by the franchisees. For once, franchisees are feeling part of the franchise development process as it’s visible in the organization’s social media efforts. Something that many franchisees have not been a part of in the past.

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