Empowering the Enterprising Spirit
Collaboration offers the best blend of franchisor and franchisee contribution, empowers franchisees to grow their businesses to fullest potential, and helps franchisees leverage resources to come out on top.
By Shirin Behzadi
As a franchisor, your job is to set your franchisees up for their best success. As a franchisee, you have the opportunity — some would even say the obligation — to add your own skills, competencies and experience to what the franchisor provides to create a truly world-class small business.
That’s because the best franchise growth and success stories happen when franchisor and franchisees work together to ensure long-term growth.
But what’s the best blend of franchisor and franchisee contribution? What can franchisor management do to empower franchisees to grow their businesses to the fullest potential? And what can franchisees do to leverage those resources to come out on top?
The answer, not surprisingly, is collaboration. At Home Franchise Concepts, our No. 1 goal is to combine the right training, resources, management, marketing and other support with a franchisee family truly hungry for growth to lead the billion-dollar home products and services space. The following checklist of five basic tips for management should be applicable to any industry.
1. Recruit franchisees that are hungry for growth and willing to take chances for a brighter future.
Enterprising-minded franchisees — a term we prefer to the overused term entrepreneurs — are a special breed comfortable with a measured level of calculated risk in exchange for financial and personal freedom and the prospect of something much better. These are the individuals that become the best franchisees and, with success, the best ambassadors for your brand. Do whatever you can to find, recruit, train and equip them for success because they are your future. After all, offering the best training, resources and support is meaningless if your franchisees are too risk-averse to take advantage of it.
2. Provide the very best training possible, and continuous ways for franchisees to get better.
If I had to designate the one ingredient most responsible for our success it would have to be training. Equipping your franchisees with knowledge and know-how, both at the time they first join the system and, equally important, continually throughout the franchise lifecycle, isn’t just one thing; it’s everything. The quality and quantity of the training and continuing education you provide not only impacts the value of your franchise brand but also the word-of-mouth and buzz that determines whether would-be franchisees come on board at all.
3. Offer flexible ways for your franchisees to succeed.
It should go without saying that one franchise model will never fit every franchisee candidate. Successful franchisors offer multiple ways for franchisees to succeed, knowing that the best small-business fit for a particular franchise candidate reflects the personality, experience and resources of its owner. The more unique small-business options you can provide, the more potential franchisees you can expect to attract.
Instead of just selling franchises, we like to consider ourselves franchise experts dedicated to helping passionate, enterprising individuals go into business for themselves and then provide the resources, world-class support and marketing savvy they’ll need to be successful. And that role is infinitely easier when you can offer your prospective franchisees more than simply a “one-size-fits-all” philosophy.
We are constantly looking for ways to create new retail brands that fit within our core competencies in the home products and services space. After our original brand took off, we started looking for ways to build additional franchise businesses, either from scratch or by acquisition, to build a synergistic brand family. In my experience, that commitment to brand development is as crucial to franchisee growth and development as anything else you can offer.
The other key ingredient of flexibility is scalability and the need for your franchisees to be able to maintain control. Your owners should have the option to scale their business to fit their needs and lifestyle, either to grow as big as they want or stay within their one territory or location. We make this possible with a commitment to charging flat monthly royalty and marketing fees, instead of a percentage of sales like many franchisors, to keep the earning power where it belongs — in the hands of our franchisees.
4. Stay on top of trends inside and outside your industry, including technology.
The most successful franchise companies over the long term are also foremost experts in the trends of the industries in which they operate. Your franchisees expect and rely on you to keep them abreast of the latest products and services that will enable them to build a loyal customer base. For us, this means giving our franchisees and their customers access to the latest name-brand product lines, designer offerings and custom solutions at every budget level without requiring them to ever step inside a store.
To that, we add in-home design consultation and installation and a no-questions-asked warranty since research has shown these to be important to customers looking to improve their home.
Of course, the other major unavoidable consumer-facing trend is technology and how it can be leveraged to make the lives of franchisees and their customers simpler. This year, we’re launching a major, whole-home automation partnership that will distinguish us as the first brand in our industry to offer a wireless, whole-home automation solution operational through smart phones and the latest mobile apps. It’s an exciting development that will enable us to continue differentiating one of our retail brands from the competition and it serves as a good example of the need for a franchisor to stay on-trend to continue providing added value to
5. Establish and reinforce your values, especially the opportunity to give back.
The public has become more interested in what brands believe in and do than in what they sell. This is especially true for franchisees deciding which small business to invest in and grow, and it’s a primary concern of Millennials wanting to make a longer-term impact beyond the bottom line.
For these reasons, I think it’s important to establish a set of core values that guide your day-to-day operations, management philosophy and relationships with your franchisees, employees, vendors and partners. For us, these values include a give-back philosophy and desire to contribute to causes personally impacting our employees, franchisees and partners. One of our largest opportunities is veterans’ support, thanks to the large percentage of our franchise owners who have served in the U.S. military.
We’re an ongoing supporter of Home for Our Troops, a charitable organization that provides mortgage-free, specially-adapted homes for members of the armed forces following their tour of duty. This special partnership, which directly connects to what we do in the home products and service space, has benefited our franchisee family in so many ways that we launched an even larger veterans’ initiative in 2017 that provides management, franchisees and even our customers the chance to contribute.
Of course, your opportunity to give back, just like everything else in your franchise portfolio, should be personalized to your company’s mission, industry, goals and franchisee base. The result can be long-term growth and development for both you and your franchisees as well as an unmistakable enterprising (even entrepreneurial) spirit that can guide many seasons of future success.
Shirin Behzadi is CEO of Home Franchise Concepts. HFC’s three brands, Budget Blinds, Tailored Living and Concrete Craft, are supported by more than 1,275 franchisees in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.