Franchise Development

Find passionate franchisees by setting an example of what brand values look like.

By Cheikh Mboup, Edible Brands

No matter the franchise concept, single-unit and multi-unit franchise owners often have different sets of skills and goals that play a role in how they run their businesses. While single-unit operators typically outnumber the amount of multi-unit operators within a system, franchisors still need to appropriately support both paths regarding different strategies and the types of people they attract.

When it comes to multi-unit franchisees, it is essential for franchisors, suppliers, other franchisees and more to recognize each individual multi-unit operator as the leader of his or her own enterprise — judging and supporting each operator more like you would your own corporate brand than you would a single unit.

If your franchise is looking to expand further via multi-unit ownership, here are three things you should know as a franchisor about how to ensure the success of your multi-unit owners:

1. Grant agreements to the appropriate people.

The beginning stages of vetting any potential franchisee are crucial to make sure the appropriate person is joining the brand, especially when that person will be responsible for a significant chunk of your system. Before awarding a multi-unit agreement to a prospect, you need to look closely into their background and franchising history to an even greater extent than you would a single-unit prospect.

Ideally, you will want the potential candidate to be a seasoned franchise veteran who understands what it takes to run an entire enterprise versus a single location. Do some even deeper digging to determine what that potential franchisee’s track record is like in terms of success. Avoid granting multi-unit agreements to those who have a history of quickly jumping from brand to brand without making much impact along the way. A franchisee with sufficient experience and noteworthy success is more likely to have the right infrastructure to support the growth you expect from them.

2. Be flexible.

Once a franchisor finds the right individual to grant an agreement to, they must then be prepared to customize the franchise experience for that specific multi-unit operator. The franchisor should be flexible  when it comes to negotiating agreement terms by understanding that a franchisee may expect a break on fees when they are building an enterprise instead of a single location.

Flexibility must also come into play when judging franchisees and their locations. The review process for a multi-unit operator who is building a full system is much different than a single-unit owner. Your annual/quarterly visits with a multi-unit franchisee will require more of your time than a typical location visit would. Keep the schedule for your time spent with a multi-unit operator open to allow time for full- fledged reviews of their overall business.

Be prepared to discuss with the operator their long-term growth plans, challenges they’ve been experiencing, resource plans and anything else that would need to be incorporated into a business strategy meeting that you would have at the corporate level. Expect that the time you have with one multi-unit operator may need to be spent differently than it would be with another, as these sophisticated operators may have more complex issues to address. Having the flexibility to view these regular visits as more of planning sessions than review sessions aids in making the franchisor/franchisee relationship a more productive partnership as opposed to just an agreement on paper.

3. Approach multi-unit franchising as a partnership.

For the relationship between franchisor and multi-unit franchisee to be truly productive for all parties, it’s essential for a franchisor to realize that potential multi-unit franchisees don’t necessarily choose a franchise opportunity based on industry alone, but rather based on the brand itself. Franchisees have countless options in each industry, but when it comes to deciding on a business venture, they will go with the one that makes them feel most secure in knowing that they can trust the franchisor. If they have multi-unit aspirations, they need to feel confident that the franchisor will help them successfully achieve this.

If you prove yourself as a quality franchisor, the benefits of this partnership will go both ways. What multi-unit franchisees experience with their own networks is often similar to what the franchisor is doing on a larger scale. The grassroots experience gained by multi-unit operators is something the franchisor needs to tune in to. A smart franchisor will leverage the insight of its multi-unit franchisees to help the brand identify new best practices for operations across the entire network.

As a franchisor, it’s important to put yourself in the shoes of your franchisees when considering how to best support them. And with multi-unit operators, you can relate to their experiences even more. So, to give them the experience you know you would want in their position, keep these tips in mind throughout the entirety of your multi-unit franchise partnerships: welcome only the best of the best, then be sure to give them your best in return.

Cheikh Mboup is the President and COO of Edible Brands®, the parent company of Edible®, the world's largest franchisor of stores offering all-natural fruit snacks, dipped treats and fresh fruit arrangements with more than 1,000 locations worldwide. Find out more about Edible Arrangements here