Tips on how to be innovative as a franchisee

15/05/2018 08:00 | Start a business

Innovation as a franchisee

One of the biggest myths about franchising is that creativity and innovation cannot be achieved by franchisees. Many people believe that for a franchise system to be a success, franchisees must adhere to routine, standardised and predictable processes and procedures with no opportunity to deviate from these.

Of course, its consistency and uniformity that both exemplify and drive franchise brands to become profitable, but there's more to being a franchisee that sticking to the rules.
If you have an idea for a new product or a suggestion about how the franchise system can be improved, you should have the confidence to approach your franchisor. After all, even the most well-oiled machines can still be enhanced with the right improvement ideas.

Is there a place for innovation in franchising?

There are many reasons why franchisees are required to follow precise rules and procedures when they invest in franchise brands. Most importantly, the benefit of uniformity is for customers. When they experience a consistent level of service from a franchise, regardless of location, they trust the brand and become loyal customers. And, from a franchisor and franchisee perspective, following the rules also increases the chances of running a successful business that has been tried, tested, and duplicated many times.

However, even if you invest in one of the best franchise opportunities and have a full understanding of your obligations as a franchisee, it can still be tough to suppress your creative side. If you're desperate to make the most out of your business and want to share your opinions and ideas with your franchisor, theres a certain to way to go about it to increase your odds of being listened to.

Tips for approaching the franchisor with your ideas

  • Prove yourself

    The franchisor will have spent years developing and perfecting their franchise system, and so you need to earn their respect before you start vocalising your ideas for improvement. The best way to do this is to become the best franchisee you can be. Learn the franchisors business model, follow it to the letter and run an efficient and profitable business. The franchisor is far more likely to listen to the ideas of a successful franchisee than one who is struggling to make their business work.
  • Be prepared

    For your ideas to be taken seriously, you need to prove that they will work for the entire franchise network. Pull together a business plan and provide answers to questions that you think the franchisor may ask. By being prepared, you give you and your idea more credibility. But before you do any of this, check your franchise agreement to understand if there is any scope for your ideas being implemented. If the franchisor has taken a clear stance on this, then you could be wasting your time putting your business case together.
  • Discuss your idea with the franchisor

    Before you attempt to implement any of your ideas, make time to run them past the franchisor. Even if you're pretty sure that you're in no way breaching the franchise agreement, you should still talk to the franchisor before trying anything new. There are a couple of reasons why this is a good idea. Firstly, other franchisees may have tried to make the changes that you're proposing with limited success, and the franchisor can help you to avoid making the same mistakes. Secondly, your idea could be just what the franchisor has been waiting for, and they may want to roll it out to all franchisees rather than just being applied to your franchise.

The point is, if you do your homework and pitch your idea professionally to the franchisor; you stand a good chance of being heard. There are lots of examples of franchise brands benefiting from the suggestions of franchisees. You could potentially follow in the footsteps of Jim Delligatti, a McDonalds franchisee who developed the Big Mac.

However, for the franchisor to adopt your new product or service concept and apply it to the whole franchise network can take time, so be prepared to wait patiently for your ideas to come to fruition.

Thinking outside the box using creative marketing

If you want to express your creativity and have more of an immediate impact, you can do so by being innovative with your local marketing plans. Here are some examples of how some of the best franchise opportunities have used innovative ideas to promote their businesses in the local community:

Anytime Fitness

To raise awareness of the importance of exercising, Anytime Fitness has been holding free workouts sessions throughout May. The residents of Kamloops in British Columbia, Canada will receive free training at a nearby park from 10 am to 12 pm every Saturday. The workouts will be a mix of cardio, strength and yoga to cater to the needs of everyone within the community.

As well as promoting the gym, Anytime Fitness has partnered with Kamloops Food Bank to encourage people to make cash or food donations to the charity when they attend each of the sessions. This is an excellent way of demonstrating credibility and integrity as a brand which in turn results in more people signing up for gym memberships.


Along with Heart Research UK, Subway held a fun run in Southampton on 29th April to raise awareness and money for heart health charities in the UK.

The family-friendly 5km race, known as the Subway Helping Hearts, cost just £8 for participants to take part with under 12s running for free. Each runner was presented with a t-shirt, lunch from Subway, a finishers medal and access to the family fun area.

As well as money raised from the entry fee, runners were also encouraged to gain sponsorship, and all the money went towards Subway's Healthy Heart grant programme and Heart Research UK.

Sponsoring a charity event, or a local sports team is a fantastic way to raise awareness of your franchise in the community. The best franchise opportunities recognise the importance of franchisees being visible to their potential customer base as people tend to buy from people rather than brands.


To be a successful franchisee, you'll always need to be able to stick to the proven business model that the franchisor has created. However, don't hang your creativity hat up just yet. If you have good, well thought through ideas, you could be responsible for making significant improvements to your franchise.

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