Building a successful franchise business in any country is an impressive accomplishment. Seamlessly introducing the brand into new international markets and cultures, however, is a task that must begin long before you land your first international franchise deal.
The flexibility of the systems and processes that you establish early will prove to be critical in achieving success as your franchise network grows internationally. The key, of course, is to do so without diluting the overall strength and spirit of the brand. That means if you want to build a brand that can cross borders seamlessly, it is important to have a multicultural mindset from the very beginning.
That’s how we approached the growth of Edible Arrangements as we expanded from a small regional chain into a global network of more than 1,300 locations. By incorporating the following key elements of this mindset into your planning, you’ll be on your way to finding global success.
Think globally, act locally
Never before has the phrase “think globally, act locally” been so accurate when it comes to growing your business. The secret to a successful overseas expansion lies largely in a brand’s ability to pivot and react to local conditions and needs. Making the assumption that your brand will be perceived and recognized in the same way it is at home is a common misstep taken when brands make the leap to expand internationally.
This requires a basic understanding of the market, accepted business practices and consumer preferences. Different cultures adhere to different norms, practices and beliefs. Becoming a major player in a new international market can be tricky if you aren’t mindful of the new market and the best practices needed to appeal to those new local customers. You will have to make adjustments according to your brand’s new home and those you want to serve there.
In the United States, for example, the systems and processes that are used as a blueprint of success may not transfer as easily from culture to culture as they do from state to state. When your brand begins to involve international franchisees be mindful that your international franchisees are also looking for a successful blueprint to follow, but one that is adaptable to the markets in which they operate. Tailoring the blueprint will give your franchisees the best chance of success within their specific market and will help ensure that the spirit of your brand remains consistent while setting every franchisee up for the greatest opportunity of success.
These adjustments will differ from market to market so maintaining flexibility while being reactionary and mindful to what’s needed in your next target market is crucial to finding long term success overseas.
Innovation is important in every language
No matter where you are across the globe, innovation in business matters. When creating a multicultural franchise brand you must anticipate that innovation will always be a piece of the puzzle. You will consistently need to innovate your approach to your new home. No matter how popular you and your products are now, things can change quickly. This is especially true in today’s increasingly global economy. Long term success comes to those who forecast for these changes and plan accordingly through innovative approaches to new products, services, marketing and more.
As an example of this, we discovered very quickly that the popularity of various products changed as we began to cross international borders. Recognizing that fruit arrangements may be popular in one country but not as in-demand as our fresh fruit treats in others was an important piece of solving the international expansion puzzle. Allowing your customers to lead your path in a similar way will ensure that you’re innovating in ways that will respond to the market.
I often remind myself and our team that innovation never ends. While it brings a lot of excitement, it can also be a daunting task to always push forward, anticipating where you and your brand can improve next. One way I like to do this is to pause and ask myself, “if I were starting this business today, how would I set it up and what things would I do differently?” I then see which of the ideas I came up with can be implemented.
Continually pushing the envelope on innovation will ultimately reap the rewards you’re seeking when you are successfully operating on an international scale.
Take full advantage of emerging technology
While cultural norms, languages and best practices differ from country to country, the opportunities technology presents for business are universal. Today’s consumers may not share the same tastes or cultural experiences, but in almost every case they are unified by their dependence on technology.
Utilizing tech tools that are available worldwide will prove to be essential as you build your global network. The opportunity to know, almost in real-time, what is happening across your network and the ability to offer on-demand training and educational programs online are just a small example of the many ways emerging technologies will make it easier to operate your franchise systems internationally.
Additionally, technology truly is “shrinking the world” and has created numerous opportunities for you to share your branding and marketing messages with the global community.
In the midst of growth, take time to pause
Growing internationally is an exciting time for a franchise network met with eager attitudes. It becomes increasingly important as we continue to connect globally that we recognize the great opportunities that await abroad. And with great opportunities come great responsibilities, however, many more people now have access to view your brand and became familiar with your services than ever before, and while exciting, this brings forward the importance of taking time to pause. Calming the urge for rapid growth is difficult but can result in a costly challenge if franchisor’s don’t take time to achieve this growth at a responsible rate. As a franchisor you have a responsibility to your brand and to your franchisees to take your time and do it right.
In the early days of Edible Arrangements I thought our brand could get behind anyone and that all our franchisees could achieve great success with similar tools. That was a mistake. I’ve learned that the pause should come during the most exciting time, in the beginning. Taking this pause will help you identify the right formula for success. You’ll have time to navigate the challenges you will face in that country and can take time to assemble the right team. Having the right people is the key ingredient. For the sake of your growing brand and for your team, be patient to find the right person for each role. In the end, franchisors only succeed when our franchisees succeed and we owe it to them to build out expansions and teams in the best way possible.
The bottom line is that there has never been a better time to expand your franchise worldwide. At Edible Arrangements we’ve been able to achieve great success with our partners when we’ve been disciplined to stay the course while pursuing exciting opportunities for the brand. With a global vision and incorporating a multicultural approach from the very beginning, you’ll be on your way to making that vision a reality and the brand ultimately will be equipped to enjoy international success.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tariq Farid is the founder and CEO of Edible Arrangements which recently announced plans to aggressively expand its international presence. The chain now has more than 1,300 locations open or under development worldwide.