bfa Annual Conference: What we learnt from the brightest and bestJune 30, 2016
The bfa Annual Conference 2016 was indeed bigger, better and bolder than in previous years, just as promised.
Informative and engaging, the conference offered the opportunity for open peer-to-peer engagement as well as access to the knowledge and experience of leading lights in the franchise community.
Here we’ve cherry picked ten of the most insightful and valuable tips they had for franchisors:
- Recruiting the wrong franchisee at least once, is inevitable: almost every franchisor struggled with having recruited the wrong franchisee for their business. This was regardless of their experience or investment in recruitment and provided solace to other franchisors, particularly new franchisors and those currently dealing with struggling franchisees.
The advice: Comply with your franchise agreement at all time, act in good faith, and prioritise the franchise network over personal grievance and vendetta.
- Managing franchisees #1 – the good performers matter more than the underperformers: Franchisors often focus their time and attention on underperforming franchisees, leaving the high achievers and decent performers to their own devices. Yet, it was shown that prioritising efforts on encouraging and supporting the decent performers to do better, is often more profitable and better for the franchise network as a whole.
The advice: Do not expend energy on under-performing franchisees to the detriment of your high- achieving franchisees.
- Managing franchisees #2 – use different measures of success: Rewarding good performance is a key motivating factor for franchisees. Rewards discussed included open praise shared with the network and franchising community, appointments to franchisee boards, and reduced service fees. However, measuring success is just as important as rewarding it and many franchisors discovered that rewarding the “most improved” franchisee motivated franchisees more than just rewarding the most profitable.
The advice: There are different ways to measure success. Pay attention to all your franchisee’s numbers, not just the profit. That is one way to make good performers great.
- Managing franchisees #3 – the underperformers: Underperformance may have as much to do with a less-than-optimal territory as it does with insufficient effort on the part of franchisees.
The advice: Territory mapping is a key component of the franchise model and correct mapping can profoundly impact the success of your franchisees and the network as a whole.
- Franchisees have a life-cycle and your communications must adapt: Franchisees have a development lifecycle. New franchisees require prescriptive advice, guidance and support from franchisors. However, as they grow with the business and become familiar with the industry, their knowledge and understanding becomes as good as yours. Certainly, some will feel they no longer need your support and may turn against you.
The advice: Understanding this lifecycle and adapting your engagement can mean the difference between losing a franchisee, or exploiting their experience to the benefit of the network.
- Ethical franchising is a key ingredient to success: the conference included the BFA HSBC Franchisor of the Year awards. All the finalists produced evidence of their compliance with ethical franchising standards, including quality training, consistent development and innovation of the business, and strong collaboration and support within the network.
The advice: Ethical franchising matters.
- Success takes time: Most of the BFA HSBC Franchisor of the Year award finalists had run franchise networks for over 10 years. This was also the case with those leading expert-led sessions and seminars. Consistency matters. Consistency in development, investment and innovations. The winner of Franchisor of the Year, Water Babies, has been working towards success for 14 years. It has now expanded internationally, recently building its own aquatic facility in China!
The advice: Consistency matters.
- Focussed marketing is essential: Franchisors essentially have to adopt two different marketing strategies – one for franchisees and one for customers of the franchise network. Franchisors must be careful not to mix these up!
The advice: Understand your target market, be consistent in your brand message and use a variety of marketing channels.
- Technology gives you the winning edge: No matter how big or successful the business, you cannot stop investing in technology. McDonald’s, winner of the BFA HSBC Award for Innovation 2016 launched its biggest franchisee programme in the UK called “Experience of the Future.” It involved a multi-million-pound overhaul of its restaurants to include digital ordering kiosks and tablets for customers to use instore.
The advice: While not every business has millions to invest, investment in technology almost always guarantees returns.
- International expansion and enquiries from overseas: Almost every franchisor we spoke to who was interested in exploring international growth had received an unsolicited enquiry from an international investor asking him / her to sell a franchise in their country. Of course, some enquiries are genuine and certainly worth exploring. However, international expansion is risky, it requires substantially more investment than franchising locally, and strategy is key. And the first thing to do is apply to register your trade mark! Burger King is known as “Hungry Jack’s” in Australia for a reason!
The advice: Approach international expansion well-prepared and with caution
If you have any unanswered queries about franchising, we offer a no-fee initial consultation to new clients, and would love to hear from you! Get in touch.