In his latest franchising piece for Business Advice, ServiceMaster expert David Burton reveals some methods owners can use to maintain a more relevant franchise than their competitors.
Ensuring your brand can remain a relevant franchise in your industry is a challenge for all business owners and one that should remain in clear focus throughout your franchise journey.
Keeping a relevant franchise in an ever-changing business landscape is now more important than ever. Competition is fierce and it is now easier for your customers to find alternatives that might be cheaper and louder than you like to be, and there’s little to stop your customers going elsewhere.
As a franchisor, this predicament is even more of a challenge. You are no longer just responsible for one offices’ performance. You are now the architect and custodian of a brand and a franchise system and that has a much wider impact. If you fail to innovate, move forward and stay relevant, the effects now have much larger consequences.
It’s probably fair to say that nobody really likes having change forced upon them or having to do what you really don’t want to do just to maintain a level of business but the ability to evolve is what growth is all about.
Your franchisees rely upon your ability to evolve and provide insight to help bring growth and a healthy return to their initial investment. If your business is standing still, you are more vulnerable than ever. So how do you stay relevant and how do you implement necessary change into multiple franchise operations?
Embrace technology – Test it, prove it and roll it out
ServiceMaster franchises four brands, providing seven service lines, so we have a lot of “staying relevant” to occupy our resources, and our franchisees’ customers come in all shapes and sizes.
In order to remain relevant, we consistently listen to the markets that our franchisees serve. We implemented a Live Chat system to engage with people visiting our websites and to capture the enquiry.
This move allowed us to both achieve more enquiries and to analyse what sort of devices where being used to browse our websites. When we realised that the majority of our website visitors were using mobile devices, we ensured all of our sites were mobile-optimised.
As the franchisor, we invest time into listening to franchisees’ markets, not just their browsing and buying habits but also what they are saying on social media or review websites in order to work out what they want. With both Live Chat and mobile-optimisation, we tested the results, proved they worked and rolled them both out to our franchisees.
Implement a culture of improvement
When we talk about making changes of any kind at ServiceMaster we return to the phrase “if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got” and it’s so pertinent in terms of keeping our brand and its services relevant.
We challenge franchisees to make small improvements in their business on a regular basis and ask themselves the “why” question – “why do we do it this way?” or “why do we think that way?”
By inspiring franchisees to make improvements, readdress their priorities and focus on achieving goals, we are doing our job in helping them achieve growth and ultimately, a return on investment.
Likewise, by challenging the team at the franchise support centre to make improvements in their roles, we are forming a leaner, more focused business to further support our growing networks of franchisees.
The challenge with self-improvement is that you encourage entrepreneurship – including business owners who can do it on their own and create their own future. Whilst this is a healthy trait in an investor, franchising is about following a proven model, and listening to and trusting the franchisor to lead the way.
However, if the franchisor has implemented a culture of improvement, is actively listening and taking action to stay relevant for its franchisees’ by embracing new technology, processes and procedures, you’re doing your job and you’ll grow your relationships with franchisees. You’ll also be seen to be an active and ethical franchisor, two essential characteristics for attracting new investors into your growing and relevant franchise opportunity.
Catch up with the last in David’s A-Z series: The franchise journey – How to get the most out of it
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