Making the decision to grow your franchise nationally can be quite exciting. Visions of new franchisees and additional royalties are enough to bring a smile to any franchisor’s face, but before you can fully enjoy these benefits, proper planning is essential. Here are 8 things to keep in mind:
- Brand Consistency - Every great franchise starts with brand consistency. Keeping your brand intact from location to location, whether in Portland, Oregon or Atlanta, Georgia, is the key to an overall positive customer experience. It starts from the moment the customer enters the location. If the quality isn’t there or it doesn’t look like other locations, this could lead to decreased customer satisfaction leading to lost revenue. Using multiple vendors can lead to inconsistency in design and quality and overall damage the customer’s brand experience.
- Modular Design - Available real estate doesn't come in just one shape or size. Finding a location that perfectly fits your original design specifications every time is nearly impossible. Since it's generally more time and cost-effective to fit a design to the space as opposed to the space to a design, modular fixtures and displays are perfect tools when growing your franchise on a national basis. Their layout can be easily reconfigured to make the most of any size location without compromising the overall "feel" and "branding" of the original design.
- Standardization - When picking out decor to go into your store or restaurant, it can be difficult choosing from all the options. Instead of making those decisions on a store-by-store basis, make them once and standardize as much as possible. To do so requires a bit of thought on the front-end as you'll want to make sure to select items that will be available on a national level when you need them, aren't in any threat of being discontinued, and can be easily replaced if they are. This is especially true of interior décor items like flooring, wall finishes, and furniture where any changes could drastically alter the entire look and feel of a store. The time you spend making these decisions initially will help you build efficiency into your build-out program and save you time in the long-run.
- Volume Discounting - By standardizing your build-out program, you not only build efficiency into your program, but you can also take advantage of cost-savings by purchasing in larger quantities versus one-off unit pricing for items such as flooring, décor and furniture.
- Staffing - You want to expand nationally and that requires a great deal of time and money due to the complexities created by distance. Unless you have the time, you may need to hire additional staff. Be careful about putting too much burden on your franchisees. Focus on simplifying the buildout process for your franchisees, so they can focus their time hiring their staff, ordering merchandise, and promoting their location among other things. Working with outside support can save you and your franchisees valuable time.
- Capable Vendors - Buildout projects require a team effort to complete. As the franchisor, your planning and decision-making have a big part in the process. Your vendors also play a role, and their performance and capabilities definitely affect the outcome of any buildout. When it comes to choosing the right vendors for the job, it might not be in your best interest to go with friends, family or the lowest bidder. For the highest probability of success, you'll want to use vendors that have the ability to handle your growth. This includes finding manufacturers that have the capacity to produce the quantities you need, fulfillment centers that have adequate inventories, and can deliver shipments anywhere you need them. Your growth projections will help you determine your vendor needs.
- Architecture - Working with local architects may limit your national expansion plans. Be sure to work with national architects, licensed in all 50 states that become familiar with your brand and can pass on time/pricing savings.
- Enforce the Plan - You've taken the time to put together a solid buildout plan and program. For it to really be successful, you need to make sure everyone is sticking to the plan. This may seem like a no-brainer, but in the case of franchises where practically every location has a different owner, compliance isn't automatically guaranteed. You will come across a stubborn franchisee that wants to use their suppliers or wants to change the brand. By allowing these "amendments" to the plan, you're likely to lose some of the program's efficiency as well as risk compromising your brand image. To ensure franchisees follow the plan, add the plan requirements to the Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD).
Entering growth mode is an exciting, yet hectic time. Opening new locations can lead to a lot of things - more customers, more revenue, and more headaches. To avoid the growing pains associated with franchisee buildouts, it helps to have a solid plan in place that incorporates brand consistency, modular design and standardization, while adding capable vendors to the mix, and making sure everyone sticks with it. While these hints won't guarantee a completely hiccup-free experience, they do provide a great launching pad for franchise’s growing on a national basis.