Eight ways you can improve your franchise
When you first started your own business, itís likely that your immediate concern was getting through the first couple of months. The early days of business ownership can be tough, but you survived. Better than that, your business performed well.
So, your next goal was to become one of the most successful franchises out there. By franchising your business, you were able to grow more quickly and cost-effectively than if you had gone it alone. It also meant that you could give other entrepreneurs the chance to invest in a business opportunity.
Once franchise businesses have been established, it's easy to fall into the trap of sticking with the status quo. After all, why fix something if it isnít broken? This is where good franchises can be distinguished from less attractive investment opportunities. If youíre prepared to drive a culture of continuous development, progression and improvement, prospective franchisees will want to benefit from being part of your franchise business opportunity.
To avoid getting stuck in a rut, here are eight ways you can improve your business and become a more successful franchise:
1. Get smarter with franchisee recruitment
Your franchisees are your most significant assets, so recruiting quality candidates is key to the success and longevity of your business. Until now, you may have been able to attract prospective franchisees just by having a few pages advertising your franchise opportunity on your website.
Although this is better than having no online presence at all, you can improve the information that you provide candidates by building a separate website specifically targeted at investors. This will enable you to properly sell the benefits of joining your business, as well as dedicating space to answer frequently asked questions. You also want to make sure that your telephone number is clear, so potential franchisees can pick up the phone to you or your business development team if they want any more information.
Also, it may seem like a minor point, but donít forget to make sure that your franchise website is mobile optimised. As the majority of people use their mobile devices to search for anything from a new outfit to a new career in franchising, it's essential that your website can be easily navigated regardless of the device the reader is using. You wouldnít want to invest time, effort and money into developing a website full of franchise information if itís illegible on a mobile phone screen.
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2. Digitise your operations manual
The operations manual will become your franchiseesí primary reference point when running their new businesses. If youíre still presenting your franchisees with a physical operations manual on completion of their initial training, you could be making more work for yourself. This is because every time you make a change or update an element of your franchise system, youíll also have to amend, reprint and redistribute the manuals.
This isnít just time-consuming and environmentally damaging; you also wonít be able to make sure your franchisees use the most recent version of the manual. Even if you send out new copies, your franchisees arenít necessarily using them.
A much more effective way of circulating your operations manual is by having a copy available online. This allows you to have full control over what your franchisees are seeing and means that you only have to make amendments in one place, and then theyíre instantly available for the whole network.
3. Develop more content to raise awareness
Itís not just your franchise documentation that needs to be brought into the digital age. Good franchisors invest time and effort into producing quality content for both their customer and investor websites.
Sharing informative, authentic and engaging content will not only get you noticed by your target audience, but by the search engines too. This means youíll be found quicker by prospective franchisees, who will assume youíre one of the top franchises in the industry. Also, if youíre able to answer the questions being searched for, youíll become a voice of authority in your industry, which breeds trust and loyalty.
Itís important to remember to generate content when you donít think you need to. Franchises that churn out blog posts when theyíre trying to reach certain targets or hurriedly recruit certain workers will lose the respect of readers. If you make the effort to maintain regular communication with your audience and go the extra mile to present interesting content, your readers should feel more involved in your franchise. This can only mean good things for the future of your business.
4. Create individual franchisee landing pages
The advantages of creating separate landing pages are twofold. Firstly, if each of your franchisees has an individual franchise landing page, they can produce localised content to appeal to their community, boosting sales and improving the search engine rankings of the franchise as a whole.
Secondly, customers tend to buy from people rather than brands. If each franchisee has their own landing page that they can update to keep their local community informed, customers are more likely to feel more of an infinity with the brand.
5. Encourage franchisees to be creative
One of the biggest myths about the franchising system is that there is no room for innovation. However, this isn't the case; you can become even more successful by encouraging your franchisees to share their ideas and opinions. After all, the Big Mac was developed by a McDonald's franchisee, and that hasn't done too badly!
Not only does this attitude have the potential to benefit the business, improving operational strategies, attracting new customers and boosting profitability, but it could also benefit your franchisees. If they feel youíre open to suggestions and interested in what they have to say, theyíll probably have more respect for you. They may even have higher levels of morale and motivation.
To summarise, donít be complacent Ė there are always improvements to be made, whether theyíre small tweaks or huge shifts in operational techniques. By underestimating the value of your franchisees, youíre doing you both a disservice.
6. Benchmark franchiseesí performance
Good franchises don't just benchmark themselves against their competitors; they use benchmarking as a useful performance management tool internally too. Being able to show franchisees how they're performing compared to their peers can be incredibly helpful. They may know that theyíre doing well within the company, but being unaware of how they fit into the sector as a whole can be detrimental in the long run.
By providing this bigger picture, you should be able to boost franchiseesí morale, spurring them on to achieve more. Just be careful not to deliver depressing analytics, and always provide constructive feedback if your franchisees need to improve.
Also, make sure you benchmark metrics such as customer and employee satisfaction as well as financial performance. Only once youíve done this will you be able to see where you sit in the market in relation to your competition.
7. Make ongoing training available online
Part of the reason why entrepreneurs choose the franchising route over starting an independent business is the level of training and support on offer. It's important to provide initial training face to face, as this will help new recruits feel connected to their new venture.
However, you can offer quality training more often and more conveniently if you create an online portal. You could run regular sessions using technologies like Skype to add a personal touch to your franchiseesí training. Or go the whole hog and create dedicated online courses to update franchisees on business and industry news or develop new skills. This will save you time and money in the long run, as you wonít have to travel to training sessions.
8. Arrange networking events
There are many ways to improve your franchise, some of which you may not have considered before. You can engage your franchisees by arranging networking where they can get together to discuss any issues they have. They will appreciate your efforts to help them develop as businesspeople, so itís a fantastic way to create a happy and healthy workforce.
While it might just be another franchise event for you, it could be incredibly important for your franchisees. For some, itíll be an opportunity to meet with peers and find out that theyíre not alone in their franchising venture. It can be helpful to meet likeminded people and share doubts, concerns and encouragement. Itís likely that many franchisees will leave with a sense of reassurance that they have the abilities to bring their franchise to profitability.
Your franchisees will also be able to share ideas for improvement, so you may even get valuable insight into how you can develop and progress your business. Make sure you listen to their ideas and provide a forum for their feedback. Organising these types of meetings regularly will ensure you stay informed and make the most of your franchiseesí input.
Alice Tuffery, Point Franchise ©
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