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Getting started and keeping on track with a franchise business

Shopkeeper in bakery hand bag of bread to customer

Opening a franchise is an appealing option for those who want to own a business, but getting started can be daunting. With a franchise, you’ll receive the support of a franchisor so you won’t have to worry about starting from scratch or jumping over obstacles traditional startups face.

Here are eight important tips to ensure your franchise runs as smoothly and successfully as possible.

1. Get to know the industry

Before starting a new franchise venture, it’s important to know what you’re getting into. Forbes suggests: “If you want to make an organisation your life – at least for a few years – consider spending time working for it before you buy in. Getting experience and knowledge is key in making your decision.”

You wouldn’t buy a car without a test drive, and you don’t want to invest your time and money without a basic understanding of what to expect. If you already own a franchise, explore the industry through courses or conventions and stay up to date with current events in the field.

2. Establish a good working relationship with your franchisor

Acting in good faith is a legal responsibility of both the franchisor and franchisee, and is an essential foundation for any successful operation. SmartCompany writes: “Franchisees stand to benefit from the expertise of their franchisor, along with their guidance and leadership, in growing the business model into the future.” Your franchise is a team effort, and a strong relationship with your franchisor is beneficial for everyone involved.

3. Follow the franchisors rules

Every franchise must follow the specific guidelines that are put in place by a franchisor, which may include the colours allowed in the venue, the seating arrangements, opening hours and everything in between. Experts suggest you “pay close attention to the documentation you’re given and the training you receive, and stay in close contact with your franchisor to make sure you’re on track”.

4. Create an action plan

Where are you going and how will you get there? These are the questions an effective action plan will answer. The essential tool for any successful business, a good action plan will take into account goals, support, time frame, strategy and expected outcomes. Include metrics to measure your success and ensure your action plan remains responsive and is updated according to the data/feedback you receive.

5. Hire the right staff and treat them well

Your staff can make or break your franchise. Capable employees will ensure the day-to-day business operations run smoothly, and will therefore help your franchise thrive. This includes hiring an experienced manager with a positive track record and effective management skills.

According to The Wall Street Journal: “Franchisors say the number one reason for a franchisee’s failure is that they don’t hire the right managers.” Be respectful of those who work for you and create a positive work environment, complete with rewards for good performance and incentives that employees will respond to.

6. Focus on customer service

Stellar customer service is imperative for word-of-mouth referrals, and these are a huge factor when it comes to positive reviews of your franchise. According to BizListings.com.au, “92 per cent of consumers report that a word-of-mouth recommendation is the top reason they buy a product or service” and “76 per cent of consumers recommended companies they trust to a friend or colleague”.

Clients want to feel prioritised, and attentive employees will help secure repeat business and a loyal client base. Teach your employees the value of exceptional service and how to implement it.

7. Never stop marketing!

Though advertising assistance is likely to be given by the franchisor, it’s essential that the franchisee takes initiative and spreads the word through highly targeted local marketing.

The Wall Street Journal reports that “no marketing job is too small or difficult for a franchisee determined to succeed” and “successful franchisees report using tactics such as discount coupons, free samples, direct-mail ads and fax blasts”. Smart use of social media (Google, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) and location-based digital advertising also go a long way in exposing your business.

8. Get involved in the community

Another great idea for franchisees looking to build their reputation in the area is to get involved with their community through activities like sponsoring a sports team, making a donation, hosting an event or participating in a festival.

The importance of connecting with people and other businesses in the area should not be underestimated. David Koch writes: “Customers love putting a face to a business name, which helps to identify and establish you as a supporter of the local community and even as an expert in your field.”