The franchise chain is built every day, brick over brick. Never is a good time to sit and relax and enjoy all the good things you have done. For a simple reason: around you there are lots of competitors who want your position. So here's a list of things you should be doing as a franchisor for your franchisees, before it is too late. Even if you own a consolidated global class franchise chain, you can use this list at least for a to-do-list benchmark.
1) Keep track of all your trademarks, logos, phrases, products and everything you have registered or have to register. If you are unsure, consult your legal advisor. You have a great responsibility as a franchisor to keep your brand in good and legal conditions.
2) Check your contract or franchise agreements with legal counsel. You may have to make changes since the last reform of the Civil and Commercial Code. In addition, there are routinely modifications in government regulations, especially with regard to the labour formalities.
3) Constantly check your social media strategy. If you don't have already one, make today a Facebook page for your company and begin offering promotions through it. Same with Twitter and LinkedIn. That will allow you to display your products at the time they are being sold and perform contests and promotions very effectively. Also use other social media that are the fundamental code of millennials as Pinterest and Instagram. Showcase your products and everything you do there. Produce brand videos, create a channel on Youtube and upload those videos there. The brand must be built every day. There must be somebody inside your company that should spend the whole day in this task. Communication has changed a lot since you founded your company.
4) How digital is your communication strategy? Most of the information is consumed today by the internet, and preferably by a mobile device, phone or tablet. Do you have a way to inform the customers of your franchise chain through mobile devices? Suggest weekly contests, promotions, surveys, and other interactive forms of communication with your customers, and transfer these mechanisms to your franchisees, especially if they are widespread geographically as often happens in a big sized country.
5) Organize promotions with your franchisees taking advantage of your company agreements with credit cards, banks and suppliers. Prepare new promotions with low turnover products, working on the pricing of products and launch a national campaign that is easy to communicate.
6) Make your franchisees analyze and take data from their territories on a monthly basis. How many people live and / or work in the protected territory? What major changes are occurring in that territory? How they can attract the different types of customers? Collect this information and build your franchise strategy accordingly.
7) Design a good public relations program to be implemented by your franchisees in their territories. Based on researching which are the most important people in each area, make sure your franchisees contact them, invite them to dinner (even if you are not in the food industry!), show them what your franchise business is all about and how it improves the local society by investing and developing the territory. Those VIP leads are the best advertising your franchisees have in their different territories.
OPERATIONS MANUALS AND TRAINING PROGRAM
8) How often do you train your franchisees and their staff? There shouldn't be less than 3 intensive sessions of at least one day per year. It is extraordinary to see how a motivated employee raises the level of sales and the franchise reputation in general.
9) Which is the latest version of manuals and procedures? Wouldn't it be the same which you have done two or more years ago when you developed your franchise system? The changes are overwhelming and nobody can manage a business today the same way he did a few years ago.
10) Check with your accountant / tax advisor if government regulations require any revision of your franchise system and report immediately to your franchisees. Especially with regard to social security contributions for your employees and trade and staff insurance policies.
11) Review the basic control metrics of each and every franchise. The best known are: billing / fixed costs, billing / salaries, rent / billing, inventory turnover, current ratio, and several others that help you control the monthly operation of your franchises. Report immediately to your franchisees when these metrics are offset from historical values.
12) Which is the method you use to recruit your franchisee candidates? Usually well-established-long-history-brands need not to look up for franchisees. They appear by "natural" mechanisms, where the principal is the website company page. Make sure you have a tab that says "buy a franchise" that leads to an attractive description of the business opportunity that means buying your franchise. Usually it gives good results also advertise the franchise through some Internet tools as Adwords or Facebook or Twitter. Allocate a monthly budget to invest in these media. Never lose sight of the sad and realistic metric: if you got 100 candidates only two (at most) will be converted into good franchisees. Make the most of those two to grow together.
MONTHLY AUDITS AND REPORTS
13) Franchisees are reluctant to file the territory update monthly reports even when they understand that they are very useful. Make your best effort to obtain this documents from your franchisees on a monthly basis. For that, design a simple report template, you don't need to be very sofisticated. The difficult part of this task must be done by you and your team. If the franchisee has to incorporate a long and tedious day-to-day operation task, he will place a great opposition in sending the information you need, and you also will enter a totally useless waste of time in claiming those reports.
14) Franchisees don't like audits. So make them feel as comfortable as possible. It is very important the person who performs the audits. He or she must have empathy with the franchisees. In addition, the data that the auditor should take must be simple and fast. The audit should not take a long time and must not disturb the daily operation of the franchise. The franchisee must feel that the auditor is required as a part of the program to make grow the chain, and must see that the things that the auditor notes in his/her franchise is also being corrected in the other franchises. It is the best way to understand that everybody depends on everyone.
15) Use the mystery shopper technique. It is very effective. Then prepare a general report for all franchises with the conclusions.
16) The products and services are becoming obsolete at an alarming rate. The life cycle of products and services is very low compared to previous years. So it is your responsibility as a franchisor to review and to develop new products. It is very helpful in this respect the opinions and suggestions of franchisees who are on the battlefront and know first hand what consumers want. In addition to actively listen, you are expected to let you franchisees participate in the development of new products and services. Quarterly check the line of offered products and ask yourself what new products would have to be offered and what products would have to be paying off. An obsolete supply is quickly punished by consumers that, although they do not know very well what they want, they are very unfaithful towards brands and love to try new options when they appear.
17) The task of detecting a competitor today is very much harder than it looks. You should hire a strategy specialist to discuss the following questions once a month: What are your competitors doing right now? What are the main substitutes competitors? How long will a competitor last to copy your business model? What barriers to entry have you built? Is there a strategy that makes that your customer has trouble if leaving your product? How could several competitors ally against you? What is the turnover of your industry and which is the share of your franchise chain in this market? How does this change as time goes by? You can think all alone and by yourself your company's high strategy, but it is much better than someone from outside look at this and advise you.
18) Make an Excel spreadsheet with 10 control products that are also offered by your competitors and compare prices once a month. The unit of measurement should be the same, regardless the value added by your brand. From that, set pricing criteria for your brand, for example, my prices have to be 1.25 my closest competitor prices.
YOUR FRANCHISE MANAGEMENT TEAM
19) Check the number of people in your company who are serving your franchise system. The size of the chain requires adequate structure. As you grow, you need to have people of your staff assigned full time to the franchise business. What yesterday was done by one person of the staff -that also performed other tasks-, must now be done by one or more persons engaged full time. You need field supervisors who walk the streets and visit your franchises, at least one marketing person engaged with the franchise operation, and several people dealing with claims generated in the day-to-day operation.
20) The traditional business model of your company and its franchises, is the most appropriate for this moment? Do not forget that mankind has changed more in the last 30 years than in all the rest of its history. Do not resist yourself to enter the digital era. The new generation of millennials knows no other type of transaction that that which is done through a handheld device such as phone, a tablet, a watch and other devices that will come next year. Make your franchisees sell your products and services through digital platforms. Enter the delivery and take-out business. Do not expect customers coming to buy at your franchises. Make your franchisees go find customers through new business models that you never have even imagined, models which you are still resisting because they have been built through other values than those that did grow you as a company and as a franchise chain. You don't have to abandon your values. Simply, you have to accommodate your business to modern mechanisms, which are the only ones that understand the new generations of customers.
21) Review the agreements you have with your suppliers with regard to your franchise operation. Are these agreements the best for this moment? Are they a help for your franchisees or are they a drag? Work along with your suppliers developing new materials, new products, new services, in order to acquire new competitive advantages. Make sure that those developments are unique to your brand and register them. The strategy of a franchise chain can strongly and definitely be labeled by having some winning alliances with suppliers.
22) Make a deep study with an external advisor about the franchising system you are selling. Are you aligned to market rules? Do you have momentum? The franchisor-franchisee engineering allows the franchisee to make a good deal? The franchise parameters such as franchise initial fee, royalties, advertising investment, software, investment in training, are designed in harmony with the predicted franchisees' growth in each territory? What today not-provided-services to your franchisees could begin to be provided in order to strengthen the link?
Do not complain if your franchises do not perform well, when you lack in some of these issues. But fortunately, you always have time.