5 Lessons We Can Learn From These Franchising Giants

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World leaders in Franchising article

Analysing the world leaders in franchising can teach us a lot about how to run a successful franchise. We’ve rounded up five key pieces of advice from some of the franchising world’s biggest names that could help you run a better business. 


The world’s leaders in franchising haven’t achieved their monumental success by accident. The explosive growth of brands like McDonalds, Subway, KFC and Kumon, to name but a few, has been driven by talented and committed franchisees. Behind these entrepreneurs stand industry titans, with decades of experience in the sector and world of franchising, ready to guide franchisees to success. 

What exactly can we learn from some of the biggest businesses in franchising, and the savvy business people behind them? Let’s find out more… 

1. Get to know your customer

If you want to build a loyal, dedicated customer base for your franchise, it’s important to find out more about the people who interact with you. There are lots of ways to get feedback, from customer surveys to mystery shoppers to online analytics, that can help you improve your business. 

Modern technology has only made it easier to learn more about customers, as Nigel Travis, former CEO of Dunkin’ Donuts, explained:

“One of the great developments in recent years is that businesses like ours have gotten more and more data on the consumer. Up until recent times, the quick service restaurant industry didn’t know anything about whether it was you or who came into the store. It’s given us the ability to get more data and analyze more about consumer preferences.”

Travis also explained the crucial role franchisees play in helping franchisors understand their brand’s typical customer. 

“In a business like ours, it’s the franchisees who are close to the customers. We get a lot of feedback from them – what works, what doesn’t work.”

2. Seek out development opportunities

Franchisees who are truly committed to growing should stay curious throughout their journey, according to CEO of KFC’s parent brand Yum!, Tony Lowings. We’ve discussed the importance of continued development throughout your journey as a franchisee in the past - you can check out our article, 'Why You Should Never Stop Learning About Franchising', for more tips. 

But Lowings offered an interesting perspective on what the fast food behemoth expects from its dedicated franchisees and team members.

“Know that you control your destiny. The most important thing a team member can do is take responsibility for what you can control - be curious, learn as much as possible and do whatever job you are currently in as brilliantly as you can.” 

He continued:

“It is important to be ambitious and imagine what the future can hold for you. I recommend striking a balance between focusing on excelling in your current role, and thinking about “what’s next”.”

Your franchisor should offer you plenty of chances to learn throughout your time as a franchisee. This could take the form of seminars with other franchisees, online modules to help you brush up on certain topics or refresher training as and when it’s needed. 



3. Your local community should be key

Without a local community that is willing to embrace your franchise business, no franchisee would ever enjoy success. The people around you are going to be crucial as you seek to build a successful business, so it’s important to give back as much as you can. 

Mike Meidler, CEO of estate agency franchise Century 21, explained to Forbes how working with local communities across the globe keeps his network motivated.

“That’s why I love real estate. We’re local. We’re ingrained in the community. We’re in the work of delivering that dream of home ownership. I stay inspired because we do so much good for the community, for the economy and for people's lives.”

If you’re looking for more inspiration on how you can give back, check out ‘How to Set Up a Fundraising Event to Support Your Local Community’, where you’ll find plenty of tips and hints. You can also browse our news page, as many of our incredible franchises regularly give back to locals around them. 



4. Keep your eyes on the competition

One of the most crucial aspects of running a business, whether it’s a franchise network, individual franchise or independent venture, is being aware of what competitors are doing. You’ve built a strong, unique business that has a dedicated customer base, and it’s easy to get complacent. But if you’re not conducting regular market analysis to make sure you’re keeping up with new trends and customer demands, it could be bad news for your franchise. 

Travis, who spent time at Blockbuster and Papa John’s before overseeing Dunkin’s operations, shared another nugget of wisdom on this point. 

“The lesson is, you have to constantly imagine what could kill you. A phrase that people really like in my book, and I’ve heard this time and time again is, “Imagine your own demise. What will put you out of business?””

5. Look after your network

If you’re a franchisor, the past year has likely been incredibly challenging. You’ve had to support franchisees, many of whom may not have been able to trade at all, and instill confidence in them while worrying about how the network was going to survive. But if we’ve learned anything from 2020, it’s that sticking together and supporting each other through very concerning times has been crucial. 

Ty Menzies, who started as a franchisee before rising to the role of gym franchise Snap Fitness’s CEO, said:

“We’re all aligned. Without our franchisees being successful, we as a franchisor aren’t successful. It really is as simple as that.”

Make sure you’re doing everything you can to support franchisees through the pandemic and beyond. Distribute information about government and private sources of financial help and keep everyone updated about how ever-changing restrictions impact their business. It’s also important to get your thinking cap on and come up with ways for your franchisees to continue some form of business. 

Learning from the best

There’s a lot we can learn from some of the biggest names in franchising. If you’re looking for more helpful advice, check out our catalogue of informative articles. We publish new content every day, covering topics including employee and franchisee training and recruitment, marketing, looking after your mental health and so much more.

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