Franchising · 17 July 2017

Franchising A-Z: N is for franchise networks

Close up of hands of man and woman holding paper people chain. Two businesspeople holding paper man chain depicting solidarity and friendship. Closeup of symbol of unity and strength and togetherness.
A good franchise network promotes best practise and support amongst franchisees

Returning to his series covering the many facets of franchising, Business Advice expert David Burton explains why for franchisors, building the right franchise networks is often crucial for either success or failure amongst franchisees.

“A company is only as extraordinary as its people” is a phrase I like. I strongly believe that people make a business. Customer service, service delivery, the customer’s journey, it’s is all down to the employees that are passionate about working for a company and their ability to deliver every time.

Transfer that sentiment into franchising, and suddenly you have multiple businesses, partners, franchisees all delivering a single service and customer experience across multiple locations. As the franchisor, you have to ensure that service is standardised yet remains high-quality.

You have to ensure franchisees are engaged, love what they do and are supported to deliver the standard of service you intended.

That’s where building and establishing a franchise network is key. When an investor joins your franchise they are automatically entered into a franchise network by default. but what does that mean to them? What value or benefit do they receive from a franchise network?

A successful franchise network promotes best practise, support for one another and innovation, and it is the responsibility of the franchisor to facilitate a productive and proactive franchise network.

What that looks like may be different to each franchisor. ServiceMaster has developed its Centre of Excellence group, which meets regularly to share stories of best practice, success and growth plans.

When discussing the Centre of Excellence, ServiceMaster Clean brand operations manager, Angus Dodds, said: “We are focusing on the end user and ensuring that the customer experience is best in class. The group comprises business owners that are passionate about what they do but are never too long in the tooth to learn new skills or accept new ideas for improving.”

When thinking about franchise networks, I’m reminded of a line in the James Bond film, Skyfall, where Bond meets the new younger Q for the first time. They exchange quips, and Bond says: “Youth is no guarantee of innovation.”

Franchise networks comprise business owners of all ages and that’s the wonderful thing about them. Older, younger, newly established, exiting, the franchisor’s role is to empower franchisees at all stages of their franchise journey to keep moving, to enjoy what they do and to innovate.

As well as holding meetings, having a fraternity with fellow brand investors is also important. They are now members of an exclusive group of franchise owners. Without ever having met their neighbours, there is now an instant connection and bond.

If they need advice or support on a matter, of course they can speak to the franchisor, but they should also be able to exchange ideas with fellow franchisees. When a franchisee finds business tough, they should be able to call on their network neighbour for encouragement, as long as the franchisor has developed foundations for these relationships.

Positive, thriving franchise networks are really powerful tools to have at your disposal as a franchisor. ServiceMaster uses members of its franchise networks when recruiting new franchisees by facilitating early-stage visits to demonstrate a real-life experience of investing in a franchise.

We also work with the franchise networks to trial new initiatives and product developments. If you want to create a buzz around a new product or service, provide the information and allow franchisees to talk about it between themselves. You’ll soon gauge how successful it was or is going to be.

Establishing a network of like-minded business owners is key to the future success of your franchise. Encouraging best practice and positivity will help to build franchise networks of thriving franchisees.

For franchisors, listening to franchise networks is also important for discovering trends, successes and pains of the network, and work quickly to rectify and provide a solution.

A company is only as extraordinary as its people, so use franchise networks to build a community or a fraternity of brand ambassadors who want to grow and develop for the benefit of everyone involved.

Want to catch up with more of David’s  insights on all things franchising? Catch up on his A-Z series for Business Advice.

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

David Burton is the communications executive at ServiceMaster, one of the UK’s longest established and largest multi-brand franchisors. With a background in public relations, he provides communications support to the 350+ ServiceMaster franchises and is an advocate for franchising as a proven route to business success.

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