The 7th Annual Franchise Pool International Global Franchise Forum in Naples this April is the place to find your master franchisee, says Brian Duckett of The Franchising Centre
Master franchisees come in all shapes and sizes; they have a range of knowledge, skills and attitudes; they need varying levels of finance available to them; and they will be wherever in the world a franchisor has decided to take their business.
The process therefore starts with building a very clear master franchisee profile, which may need to be adapted on a market-by-market basis as the method of market entry often also changes. Once the profile has been created it becomes much easier to visualise the right person or organisation and therefore much easier to work out how to find them and how to put your offer in front of them. The better-qualified the prospect, the better are the franchisor’s chances of concluding a successful deal with them.
Many franchisors will start with the premise that the master needs to know something about franchising. At least they will be interested in it; ideally they will have some experience of it. Therefore the obvious place to start looking is within the readership of the various franchise magazines and the attendees at the many franchise exhibitions around the world.
These media will reach potential investors ranging from franchisors looking to add another network to their stable; experienced franchise executives seeking to strike out on their own; and potential franchisees who might want to run something bigger than a single unit franchise. The possible downside is that every other international franchisor is fishing in the same pond so it becomes a very competitive market.
If the methods above do not bear fruit, it’s worth considering alternatives, one of which is to use a network of experienced franchise consultants and brokers who have access to a wider range of known, qualified investors in their respective markets. To illustrate this I’ll take as my example Franchise Pool International which operates mainly in Europe. There will be similar groups in, for example, South America or South-East Asia.
Franchisors who want to appoint master franchisees or area developers in European markets will find Naples in April 2018 the place to be.
That’s the venue for the 7th Annual Franchise Pool International Global Franchise Forum where brands meet brokers representing 28 countries. The first such event was held in Venice and it has since travelled to Salzburg, Malta, Sitges, Rotterdam and Hamburg.
Brand presentations are interspersed with educational sessions from the brokers, introducing the economies and franchising environments of their respective markets as well as providing master class sessions on all aspects of international franchising. Brands who are not yet ready to present their international offer can attend as observers so they can learn good practice from both franchisors and brokers, perhaps then being ready to present themselves at the following year’s event.
Attendance is by invitation only to well-prepared brands who have a clearly thought-through international development plan with all the necessary marketing and operational materials and associated budgets. Receptive brokers and the brands devote time to learning about each other and have the opportunity to decide whether they want to work together. Would the brand work in a particular market and do the brand’s owners want to be there?
The best way to facilitate serious discussions has proved to be getting everyone out of their offices to an attractive city and a top class hotel where they can spend two days hearing about each other, socialising in special places and having one-to-one meetings where appropriate.
Franchise Pool International (FPI) was founded in 2007 and I’m proud that my firm was a founder member. My colleague Farrah Rose serves on its board, co-ordinating the activities and maintaining the standards of its member franchise brokers and consultants. The group has another annual meeting every Autumn at which good practice and new ideas are disseminated amongst the group of, now, eighteen member firms.
The brainchild of Rolf Kirst, founder of the original Franchise Pool business in Germany, the idea was to foster co-operation, share best practice and facilitate the transfer of brands between European countries. Since then brands from as far afield as Australia and the USA have also used FPI members to introduce their franchises to the European market, often starting in the UK because of the common language, then moving onwards onto the mainland.
The FPI process requires that a brand’s international franchising offer is either checked or prepared by an FPI-member company before being referred on to other countries. As Farrah Rose explains “We and our broker partners have often been retained by serious investors in our respective countries to help them find well-prepared businesses from overseas. These people may be existing franchisors looking to acquire another system; they may be franchise executives who are ready to create their own networks; they may simply be business people looking to invest in a system and employ an experienced franchising team to run it for them.
Whoever they are, they know what a good franchise looks like and they want to be introduced to opportunities that are proven in their home markets; that have researched the markets they want to go to; and that have prepared appropriate marketing, legal and operational documentation. We cannot risk showing them under-prepared businesses as our reputation will be shot and they won’t take our calls when we want to show them another one!”
International franchising has come of age and its growth continues apace as more and more established franchisors seek to export their systems. Linking up with experienced franchise operators who can be found, recruited and subsequently supported by local expert consultants may be a better way to achieve a franchisor’s ambitions that simply going down the do-it-yourself route.