15 Secrets of the Fastest-Growing Franchises
The companies on Entrepreneur’s 2017 Fastest-Growing Franchises list are growing by dozens and even hundreds of units a year. In an industry that’s all about increasing your presence and your brand, they’re obviously doing something right. So we asked a few of them to share the secrets and strategies behind their explosive growth. Read on.
Michelle Fee, cofounder and CEO of Cruise Planners (ranked #3 on the 2017 Fastest-Growing Franchises list):“When it comes to technology, we don’t want to meet franchisee and industry expectations -- we want to exceed them. We ensure the resources we are developing make it easy for franchisees to hit the ground running without getting bogged down by overhead costs.”
Stay ahead of support.
Shannon Hudson, founder and CEO of 9Round-30 Min Kickbox Fitness (#22):“If a brand stays ahead of support, there is no such thing as growing too fast. The secret is to hire people before you need them, not after. If you hire after, it’s too late. To that end, we hired seven new full-time employees in our home office last year.”
Don’t be afraid to take risks.
Justin Wetherill, CEO of uBreakiFix (#28):“We believe that risk is the predecessor of success. We made the conscious decision to grow without investors, debt or consultants. That risky move resulted in strong character, trust and camaraderie, which are reflected in everything we do.”
Do what comes naturally.
Bryon Stephens, president of Marco’s Pizza (#29):
“More and more of our growth is being driven by franchisees who gain a foundation of success with their first store and go on to open additional stores. This shift has been organic, and the results are a win for the brand, for existing franchisees who grow their businesses with familiar operating systems and marketing practices, and for the new franchisees who have experienced mentors to help them get established.”
Make passion and profitability go hand in hand.
Kelly Sweeney, chief sales and marketing officer of Jazzercise (#31):“Jazzercise continues to grow because it’s a passion-based brand. Our customer base is our greatest source of new franchisees. We’ve also made a concerted effort toward growing profitability -- not just sales -- for each individual franchisee. It’s not just about our corporate sales, but about the total business health of our franchisees and assisting them in increasing sales and reducing expenses.”
The boring stuff matters.
Adam Povlitz, president of Anago Cleaning Systems (#33):“Investing early in your infrastructure is key. A lot of times that means working on the ‘boring stuff’ like manuals, systems and training programs. It ultimately has to be done, so plan on paying now or paying even more later.”
Go after your key demographics.
Tim Courtney, VP of franchise development of CruiseOne/Dream Vacations (#44):“We took a look at our most successful franchisees and refined our recruitment process to have a more targeted approach in attracting those demographics. This includes veterans, former law enforcement, those with a strong business background, and people who have worked in the service industry.”
Make it easy to share ideas.
Jim Abrams, founder and CEO of Fyzical Therapy & Balance Centers (#45):“One potential pitfall of rapid growth is the possibility of missing out on the ‘next Big Mac.’ There are going to be a lot of great ideas put forth by franchisees, and with rapid growth, the next big thing might slip through the cracks. In order to combat this, Fyzical has a wide range of platforms to share ideas. As franchisees share their knowledge with us and with each other and pool their resources, each franchisee can quickly build their reputation as a leader in patient care.”
Heather Neary, president of Auntie Anne’s Hand-Rolled Soft Pretzels (#51):“You can’t undermine your values or standards in the name of growth. If you do, you might grow in the short term, but the long-term ramifications will be costly. We have a thorough vetting process and only invite the best prospective franchisee to become part of our system. Once they’re onboard, we work hard to develop strong relationships with each and every one of them and do whatever we can to position them for success. After all, we’re only as successful as they are.”
Grow from within.
Kari Comrov, chief of staff for Seva Beauty (#62):“We focus tremendously on supporting our existing franchisees so that they can grow and become multi-unit owners. Because of this, we see a large amount of internal growth. The combination of development from both existing franchisees and new candidates is an equation for success.”
Don’t just grow -- evolve.
Laura Rea Dickey, CIO of Dickey’s Barbecue Pit (#65):
“There are three keys to successful growth: First, know who you are as a brand; second, don’t be afraid to change anything that isn’t core to who you are; and third, actively pursue high-quality franchisees who share your vision. Growth is not as relevant as how you handle the challenge to evolve to meet changing customers, nimble competitors and a shifting marketplace. Our ‘evolve or fail’ strategy is what sets us apart. We invest constantly in training, technology, communication tools and R&D.”
Choose your franchisees carefully.
Rick Billups, president of Pet Wants (#76):“The success of our current franchisees gives us more capital to work with when it comes to building our support team as well as marketing the brand in new areas. Their success is also very helpful in validating the brand to incoming franchise candidates. When growing quickly, it’s important to be purposeful and add franchisees that are the right fit for the brand. You can’t hide from a bad franchisee. They are there in your system, representing your brand for their customers and influencing your other franchisees. Choose wisely.”
Stick to your values.
Greg Giordano, brand leader of Baymont Inn & Suites (#82):“We don’t believe in pomp and circumstance at Baymont -- just warm, inviting service. We’ve tripled in size since joining Wyndham Hotel Group, but we’re still holding tight to our Midwestern values. Entrepreneur who have the same values see what we’re doing and want to be part of it.”
Innovate to make your customers’ lives easier.
Stewart C. Vernon, founder and CEO of ASP-America’s Swimming Pool Co. (#86):“Innovation has been the key to our growth. Our franchisees’ growth is based on their ability to demonstrate the value of our services to swimming pool owners by providing peace of mind, which is lacking in our industry. They provide that peace of mind through our proprietary, cloud-based digital platform that communicates with the customers.”
Josh York, founder and CEO of GymGuyz (#95):“We attribute our rapid growth to the fact that there is no need for a brick and mortar location. What’s great about our [mobile personal training] business model is we don’t have any competition. Our clients still go the gym or take a kickboxing or spin class, and then follow up with us for our services.”