Richard Blunden, CEO of Monkey Puzzle Day Nurseries Group, shares his knowledge of running a thriving franchise.
Opening a franchise offers a fantastic opportunity to run your own business under the umbrella of a national brand. This means your business is instantly recognisable and can enjoy the support of the brand whilst receiving guidance from people with in-depth knowledge of the business. Running a franchise is all about building a strong partnership with the brand experts as you independently run the business.
Richard Blunden has over 20 years’ experience in franchising, working for some of the largest and most prestigious brands in the world. He reveals his tips to help create a strong franchise strategy.
Tips for creating a bulletproof franchise strategy
Whilst it may be exciting to dive into a franchise with a well-established brand, you still need to ensure it’s the right fit first. Take some time to research the market, and understand the opportunity and challenges the sector currently faces. For example, you might consider how the cost of living crisis might affect the brand’s industry.
This is the crucial first stage before deciding to work for a franchise. What are their future growth plans? What targets are they hoping to achieve? Are they going to offer you the support you need? Some franchisors may help you set up and provide initial training before stepping back, whilst others provide ongoing support. It’s important to establish who is your day-to-day contact and who’ll be providing the ongoing operational support.
Customers are important too. So don’t forget to carry out market research beforehand to ensure that you understand your customers and how to engage your target audience. You need to recognise their pain points and what problems the business solves for customers.
You can gain a great deal of this information by meeting current franchisees and visiting their premises. This gives you an insight into what running a franchise is like for that particular brand.
As mentioned earlier, running a franchise relies on a great partnership between yourself and the brand. You need to form a strong relationship with people at the franchisor to ensure that they rely on you just as much as you rely on them. To get the most out of the partnership, you need to touch base consistently, rather than only picking up the phone when things are going wrong!
One of the great things about working with a franchisor is the wealth of expert knowledge available. So, make the most of this by meeting with various other stakeholders, including accountants, solicitors and HR professionals.
Not forgetting your employees – the most important relationships you’ll build. Your employees are the backbone of your business and can make or break the success of your franchise. Make sure you lead them well and motivate them to perform.
Having a clearly defined vision enables you to answer why you do what you do. It gives you direction and reminds you why you decided to run a franchise with this brand, which is important, especially when faced with adversity
Employees want to be motivated by more than just a salary. By having a crystal clear vision, you’re giving them a greater purpose at work, which improves engagement and the overall success of the business. You want to unite your team and motivate them to work towards the vision of the franchise.
Whilst building a strategy is important for the success of a franchise – culture is the foundation on which success is built. If your team don’t engage with your business, then achievements won’t be forthcoming. A vision creates a culture which attracts both employees and customers.
Your employees deliver your vision. Compromising on your team also compromises both your results and overall brand image. Remember, your employees represent both your franchise and the wider brand.
This is why setting a vision and brand values is so important. Hiring people that meet your values and have a positive attitude will make a significant difference in the success of your business. Also, people with the right aptitude will appreciate the opportunity to learn. It’s far better to invest in the right people than hire only based on experience and end up with a team that doesn’t fit your vision. Focus on building loyalty and growing a business that’s a great place to work.
Being ‘fussy’ when it comes to hiring allows you to explore different opportunities. Whether it’s hiring someone with a unique skill set or someone with new ideas, it’ll energise your business. Cultivating a culture that enables your team to grow and bring all of their skills to the table is priceless.
To lead a successful business, you need to be able to make informed decisions based on data, not hunches. This is where investing time and money into management information systems is vital. You need instant access to information that enables you to make quick decisions and keep up with the market.
For example, easy access to monthly accounts. Take the time to develop a strong relationship with your accountant, ask them questions and truly understand what the numbers mean. After all, your monthly accounts tell the story of your business, and help you look for ways to improve.
Running a franchise with the support of a larger brand presents plenty of advantages, but defining a strategy is essential for ongoing success. Building a vision, hiring a great team, cultivating positive relationships and having access to the right information are all so important. Don’t miss out on achieving your full potential – take the time to craft that bulletproof strategy beforehand.