As a new franchisor, the success of the brand starts with you. You have a unique and solid concept, keep a watchful eye on the industry, have tapped up a solid franchise development partner, and have done your research.
But what aspects of your franchise business model can translate to a franchisee’s success and their ability to weather unexpected challenges, such as the COVID-19 pandemic? How can you position your franchise as a step above the competition and ensure the longevity of your brand before ever signing the first franchise deal?
Several components can contribute to the development and success of a unique concept and needs to be established early on as part of the business model. Several advantageous components of a business model I have witnessed included, but not limited to, an attractive and turnkey footprint for real estate developers, a membership model to allow franchisees to see a consistent revenue stream, and an engaging social media presence.
These examples were core practices among a myriad of concepts before the pandemic, but in light of the pandemic and the challenges that emerged in 2020, these components have proven to not only make the concept more attractive to prospective franchisees, but have also been paramount to the success of a business model in withstanding a turbulent year.
Let’s take a closer look at the three components that can lead to the success of franchising a brand:
Utilize pre-fabricated building modules to establish a turnkey concept
Work smarter, not harder! Prefabricated buildings have come a long way in the past 10 years and can be utilized to help achieve a turnkey franchise model. Providing a building “template” for franchisees will ensure an easier development process.
By introducing pre-designed and premanufactured building modules to franchisees, it can also cut costs from the traditional development process by getting them approved in advance by a state inspector, and speed up construction – site development takes less than three months once the building is put into place. This will also help to create uniformity and continuity across all the franchised and corporate locations which in turn helps with the overall branding and consumer experience and expectations.
Additionally, in times and areas where there is limited real estate available, these prefab structures can solve the issue of a business’ unit footprint by taking advantage of empty lots or undevelopable tracts in urban areas to cut costs on otherwise “prime” real estate locales.
Insulate profits and ensure a consistent revenue stream through a subscription or membership model
Establishing a pay-to-play service for a concept can generate lucrative passive income for the franchisee and unlimited growth potential. Membership models can be purchased by the day, month or year, allowing operators to see a consistent revenue stream.
While the membership model tends to work best for concepts that have a service, retail, or entertainment style model, expanding your business’ revenue stream, whether it be through an added service, hosting events, or selling merchandise, will increase your business’ chances to withstand economic cycles and attract franchisees.
Develop a distinct and cohesive brand presence through social media and marketing
Crafting a recognizable brand voice and visual identity is crucial so that the public grows familiar with your concept, especially while you expand into new markets. Brand consistency can often be boiled down to ensuring quality product across all units, but maintaining a cohesive visual identity across all locations is just as important to help build a relationship with the public and with which can be further amplified by fans and a core customer base. This can be achieved through several strategies and tactics including:
- Partner with a corporate PR, marketing, and social media agency to develop consistent verbiage and a brand voice that can be applied to all marketing materials and consumer-facing correspondence
- Be playful and creative on social media with the development and implementation of conceptual puns, consistent use of brand colors, and with the development of interactive games or contests to engage with followers and attract brand loyalty. Social media is no secret to grow your brand, but when done correctly, there is a significant ROI as it helps get more eyes on the brand and potentially helps secure business partners
- Tapping into a grassroots marketing approach is beneficial for your concept’s reputation on a local level. People listen to people, so it’s better to win over a handful of respected community figures, or local influencers, so that they can spread the word on your brand’s behalf. Adopting a community-centered strategy aiming to bring people into the fold versus trying to “sell” a product will benefit the brand’s image. Also, a little added bonus: a grassroots approach typically costs less than exploring traditional marketing tactics, and it often yields great results when you partner with the right people or groups
- Developing strong relationships between your brand and like-minded organizations, businesses, and charities, especially when it’s done at a corporate-level, and not just with one-off franchised locations, will showcase consistency in brand values and the goodwill efforts will be recognized collectively.
Michelle Boggs is the managing partner of MUTTS Canine Cantina, a fast-casual dog-friendly restaurant, bar and off-leash dog park concept