Building Your Franchise Community Tips on building a strong, centralized brand.
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How to Be a Player's Coach
Businesses that make the move into franchising have their work cut out for them. Building a strong, centralized brand that becomes your franchise community is of utmost importance, and emphasized in great detail in The Franchise Bible by Rick Grossmann and Michael J. Katz Esq. The authors compare a successful brand to that of a "Player's Coach," a team leader who demonstrates a protective nature of the players he or she coaches. Similarly, franchisors must strive to guide their franchisees in a proven system designed to develop successful business owners. There are several moving parts to building a sound franchise community, discussed in detail below.
Invest in the Best "Players" for Your Team
Ideal franchisee candidates are hard to come by. Among the thousands of franchise concepts on the market, each has its own idiosyncrasies that make the business model unique. And, by extension, there are unique and qualified franchisee candidates that match up well with the particular concept – but you have to identify, pursue and support them throughout the investigative process. Franchises are predicated on proven business models that, in most cases, do not require prior industry experience, however there are still many common denominators that hint at successful candidates such as networking and management experience. Developing profiles or "personas" is a solid strategy and enlisting the support of franchise brokers and consultants to build these profiles is advisable.
Perfecting the Investigative Process
Building a strong, centralized franchise community requires a step-by-step discovery process for franchisee candidates that's easy to understand and execute. The goal is to educate the prospective owners in a consultative approach that avoids the appearance of high-pressure sales tactics. Navigation through the investigative process should come in stages, as part of a natural progression.
Establishing an Advisory Committee
As franchisee owners progress through their training sessions and into the ongoing support provided by the franchisors, their dependency on a helping hand tends to wane a bit. Which is why Grossman and Katz recommend the establishment of a franchise advisory committee, in which select franchisees are allowed to exchange ideas, processes and efficiencies in a collective setting. It keeps them engaged, feeling special, and it's highly likely the feedback provided will be both productive and beneficial to building an overall strong franchise community. An extension of this advice includes the creation of an annual retreat, meeting or convention for all franchisees in the system.
Recognition and Appreciation
Advisory committees and annual retreats are team building practices that add both recognition and appreciation among franchisees. Annual awards or incentive programs for achieving certain goals can be extremely beneficial to building strong franchise communities. These can create friendly competition among franchisees and help them achieve goal-oriented pursuits well ahead of schedule.
Related: Building Community Is Good Business
A Final Word of Caution
Grossman and Katz do warn franchisors of what they refer to as the "Franchise Doldrums" – the point in which unit growth can stall after the initial ownership drive. One to two dozen units is "no-mans land" in which initial interest and early adopters are played out and the real recruiting of franchisees begins. The authors posit that it's highly advisable to have an elaborate and crafted plan in place for franchise lead-generation and sales development. It takes a balancing act to recruit new blood into the ownership circle, without upsetting the delicate balance of community you've already achieved. If you plan well ahead for this scenario, the less likely you'll end up in the doldrums.
Rick Grossmann and Michael J. Katz Esq. are the authors of The Franchise Bible: How to Buy a Franchise or Franchise Your Own Business. Buy it now.
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