Every small business owner dreams of expanding their one-person operation into something more like an empire. If they meet with initial success, startups often expand in the original location, bringing in ever more profit.
But, problems can arise when growth inevitably stagnates. If you’re already running a vibrant, busy SME with multiple employees, there’s only so much more business you can chase from the confines of a single location.
When your business reaches this stage you’ll be faced with a number of choices. Do you seek an investor to fund further growth? Or do you create a franchise?
Franchising can be a cost-effective method of expanding your business, not just by size, but also by location. To get it right, you need to plan well and make smart choices.
1. Choose the right locations
When expanding through franchising, location is key. Never assume the markets will be exactly the same across regions. Factors like transport infrastructure, demographics and local government plans for the future can all contribute to whether a business fails or flies in a set location.
The trick to selecting the right location is to seek trusted advice, and choose partners who understand your industry in their location. Never underestimate how important your instinctual knowledge of your business location has been in the growth of your company. Identify the types of partnerships you’ll need to replicate in a new location, and make sure these are feasible.
2. Spread yourself – but not too sparsely
Franchising allows you to spread your brand far and wide – so take advantage of this. It’s your big opportunity to make your business a real hit in the locations that matter, so don’t pick a venue five miles from home.
At the same time, spreading yourself too thin is a big danger. You need to be able to maintain some oversight of businesses running under your brand name.
One way to minimise risk, while ensuring your brand covers a good area, is to invest in a strong business fleet. If you have a team out on the road wearing your company colours, you can influence a large geographical area from a single franchise.
To do this, you’ll need to create a visual impact with your vehicles, select cars with brand-awareness in mind, and take out good insurance and business breakdown cover
, to ensure you stay driving towards the end goal. You can even lease vehicles
for flexibility and savings.
3. Look carefully at your business model
To be able to franchise your business, you need a sound business model. With this in mind, it’s important to look deeply and critically at your business structures and plans. Some businesses aren’t ready to scale via franchising, and some brands aren’t compatible with franchising as a technique.
Your brand needs to offer partners something they couldn’t have by creating their business from scratch, whether that’s infrastructure, training, brand value or a combination of all three.
4. Create excellent training and support
In a franchise situation, your partners are everything. Since you’ll likely be working long distance, it is vital to create a structured training and support programme, to ensure every business branch grows in the same direction.
5. Seek expert advice
No matter your business type or size, there are always people who have done it all before – you just need to seek them out. Make an appointment to see a specialist franchise solicitor, who can tell you more about the intricacies of franchising. There are costs involved in franchising your business, and you need to ensure your newest branch meets all the ethical standards
6. Nurture and protect your brand
Nurturing your brand means shaping the direction of its growth; thinking about the concepts and values your brand should incorporate. Speedy growth is rarely the most important factor.
To ensure your brand will stay protected against damage, you need to have confidence in your partners and their employees.
7. Create the right partnerships
Finding the right partners is crucial for successful franchising. Don’t select the first partner who’s willing – take the time to seek out someone better than yourself, who you are confident you can trust.
Ask yourself if they have enough experience to run a business, and what they seek to gain from the relationship. If you choose to open a second or third franchise, keep these objectives in mind, and have strict criteria every time.