Let’s start with asking why a business becomes a franchisor and why people become its franchisees. The business has developed a successful system that others would benefit from operating. The franchisees avoid the pitfalls and mistakes that have been made while that system was being developed; they will have continuous support at all stages of their future business development; and they will therefore have a far greater chance of succeeding in their new business.
An experienced consulting firm’s clients similarly buy into a system for developing and operating franchised networks which has been tried, tested and refined with many clients over many years. They receive continual support from a team of people with years of practical experience of franchise management; and they gain access to the results of all the research and development into running such networks that are gleaned from associates around the world. In effect the consultant is ‘franchising franchising,’ provided of course they are not just a marketing consultant who doesn’t have enough work or an unemployed franchise executive who’s just waiting for the next job to come along.
However successful their existing business is, a new franchisor is getting into a new business. Whilst remaining in their current business sector they are also moving into the franchising business and that’s a whole world away from what they are currently doing. They need to learn the science, art and skills of franchising and as Brian Smart, the former director-general of the British Franchise Association, used to say “You have to acquire franchising skills for your business and you have but four choices. You can buy it in from qualified franchise consultants; you can employ someone who has been through the process before; you can have someone from your business trained in franchising; or you can make a mess of it”.
Whether new to franchising altogether or an experienced franchisor looking to develop internationally, franchisors need a plan. They need to establish how many franchisees they could have and where they will be; what kind of franchisee they will be looking for; how they are going to market the opportunity to them; then how they will eventually recruit, train and support those franchisees. Over and above all of that, they need to know how much it is all going to cost and how long will it take to see a return on the investment. As with most aspects of franchising there is no ‘right’ answer to all of those questions but there may be a right answer for every individual business. That’s where experienced franchise consultants come in, followed eventually by their colleagues, the brokers.
When planning to franchise a system into other countries it will also be necessary to know how to structure the international franchise package and how to build an international support infrastructure. Although international franchising has grown exponentially over the last twenty years or so there are still relatively few people who have been around long enough to know how it all works, and more importantly why it works. Lots of people have now worked in one or two jobs or for one or two franchisors but they won’t know why those businesses worked the way they did, nor why they were or were not successful.
An experienced franchise consultant, ideally one who is a part of a network of similar people in a wide range of countries, will have both the knowledge and the access to wider expertise to assist with preparing a bespoke plan for every client. Once the preparation has been done and the plan and budget are in place, the process moves on to how to generate and process enquiries from suitably qualified candidates.
Emerging and Maturing Franchisors
Maturing franchisors can also benefit from using an established and experienced consultancy firm. Working with businesses at all stages of their franchise development, sometimes simply offering a sounding board to the owners when considering new strategic developments, such as international expansion or acquiring other networks to form multi-brand stables. At an even later stage a well-connected firm can provide access to qualified potential purchasers and help with planning an eventual exit for the founders from their business.
Whatever the franchisor’s vision for the future they will need an experienced and capable management team in place to meet the long and short-term objectives. A truly multi-disciplinary franchise consulting firm can bring great benefits here as they will often know the rising stars in the franchising community who are ready to step up to their next role. Often the best people are not actively looking for a new job but they will take a call from the executive search specialist who can give them a reason to consider a career move. Sometimes the ideal person may already be in the franchisor’s team but in an operational role outside of the franchising function. Here again a good consulting firm can provide the necessary franchise-awareness training and the all-important understanding of the franchisor-franchisee relationship.
Of course a franchisor can do all, or most of, the above themselves if they have enough experienced staff and plenty of resources but this is rarely the case. A professional consulting firm can be there to be used whenever necessary throughout the entire franchising journey.
Five reasons to use a consultant
Impartial advice on your plans
They’ll save you money not cost you money
Multi-disciplinary team of experts
Experience in all business sectors
Contacts in all franchise markets
Five things a consultant can do for a franchisor
Provide realistic financial forecasting
Recruit domestic and international franchisees
Recruit and train support staff
Be a sounding board
Build value and find buyers for franchisor exit
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Brian Duckett is chairman of The Franchising Centre, Europe’s leading firm of franchise consultants. He has made his living from franchising since 1976, initially as a franchisee, then a franchisor and for the last twenty years as a consultant to potential and practising franchisors. His firm co-ordinates an informal network of franchise practitioners, which has representation in more than 40 countries worldwide. He can be contacted by e-mail email@example.com