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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