Keeping up with the Joneses

I know it’s hard to believe but things change.

Economies go ‘pop’, businesses grow faster or slower, or move to multi-unit, customers’ needs change.

Change is unavoidable and has to be embraced if a) a business is to be successful and b) we’re not all going to go mad.

Now, there’s an issue in franchising with change, particularly when there’s a network of mixed abilities and desires.  By that, I mean some franchisees may be comfortable where they are whilst others are on a massive growth track.

So here’s the issue:

A franchisee (or group of franchisees) can outstrip the franchisor’s ken.

Ah… I need to explain the word ‘ken’.  Quite simple, really.  It’s Scottish for knowledge.

Some franchisees grow their business quickly and as a result are faced with a very specific set of challenges, triumphs, problems and successes.  Most of which will be a surprise to the franchisor because their pilot operation didn’t grow so quickly or they don’t have a pilot at all.

Let me give you an example of that.  I was working a few weeks ago with a franchise that’s been about for a while – and very successful it is, too.  It’s a professional type business – franchisees go out and win the business and employ others to do the work.

Just recently, though, they’ve had a few franchisees moving from single to multiple outlets.  This causes a few issues; there’s a purchase or lease negotiation to be completed, a re-furb to be managed, new customers to be recruited and split sites to be kept on track.

All fine if there are processes and systems available to manage this period of time.  The problem is in this case the franchisor doesn’t operate a pilot anymore and therefore they have no experience of the pitfalls, pressures and strains of the move from single to multi-site operation.

Franchisees are still doing it, but most are repeating the same cock-ups because the real practical advice and guidance just isn’t there.

It’s a classic example of franchisees’ growth needs outstripping the support provided by the franchisor who cannot offer practical advice because they’ve never done it.

What’s actually required is a step by step guide to opening a second unit.  The guide should give the same level of detail as the initial training, including what can be expected in terms of cash flow, staff, left field things that might not otherwise get considered, management practices and so on.

The good thing, of course, is that it’s a nice problem to have… managing growth.

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