Why does one Marks and Spencer look very much like another?

Is it, I was wondering, because the design people at M & S lack imagination or can’t be bothered to come up with a new look for each store?

Hmmm… unlikely.

Is it because they don’t have the money for the design and decoration work?

Maybe a few years ago but now they’ve got oodles of cash.

Why, then, is every M & S the same? Even the ones that are different are the same!

Clearly, it’s all about brand, customer experience and an understanding that shops laid out in a particular way help shoppers to buy more.

A simple enough concept, you would think, to get your head around.

I was running a course for franchisees of a retail franchise and one guy had taken some time to find the ideally located premises in his territory. His long and sometimes frustrating search had paid off and, by the time of the programme, he had located, negotiated and agreed everything that was needed for an early entry.

But there was a problem.

The franchisor, quite rightly so, has a Style Guide, that stipulates external signage, internal colours/carpets and marketing units.

However, for this franchisee, it seems as though this was an unfair requirement. Apparently, the shop he’s located has just been redecorated (white) and he didn’t want to go to the expense of a couple of hundred quid to slap on a coat of (blue) paint which the franchisor is saying he has to do.

What?!

When I pointed out that you don’t get different paint jobs in Marks and Spencer’s and it was all about brand, he told me he understood all that…

Clearly he didn’t because he still didn’t want to get his brushes out and his shop up to spec.

The franchisor I’m talking about is top notch; not just in its class but across all of franchising. Their system is proven, robust and sustainable… if it’s followed by franchisees.

For a franchisee to buy into that system and then set about arguing with the franchisor about what’s right or wrong is a bit like going to a plastic surgeon for a face lift and then arguing with him about the best way to do it…

You’re going to end up looking very silly if he decides to listen to you!

Same with franchising.

Don’t buy in and then argue with the franchisor about the best way to do it… expend your energy implementing the system, not fighting against it!

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