3 Ideas for How to Pioneer a Franchise

3 Ideas for How to Pioneer a Franchise
3 Ideas for How to Pioneer a Franchise

A colleague recently shared a story with me about a woman he helped who chose a business that’s a part of a young, emerging franchise system. Shortly after buying the business, her unrealistic expectations came to light. She came from a large corporate setting, and as one of the first franchisees, she found that there was a lot of room for improvement in her new company.

She loudly communicated her observations and delayed the startup of her own business, expecting the franchisor to implement all her ideas immediately. She was expecting this young franchise company to look and behave like a mature, sophisticated organization. Other franchisees started working the existing business model and began seeing successful results. Watching others surpass her is what it took to light a fire under her, and she began working the existing model.

Franchisees entering our system today are buying a much more robust business system that incorporates the wisdom gained from trial and error.

Too often, I come across franchisees with a “do it all, and do it all now” attitude. They feel they bought a “business in a box” and that the franchisor should have everything already figured out now and for eternity. Yes, good franchisors are constantly, tirelessly innovating and become better at doing so as they grow their franchisee and experience base.

But where do you think this proven innovation comes from?

Ronald McDonald and the Fillet-O-Fish Sandwich were not marketing strategies cooked up by expert marketing consultants in an ivory tower at Hamburger University. They were created by franchisees in the field. Lou Groen was a McDonald’s franchisee in a predominantly Roman Catholic area of Cincinnati, Ohio in 1962. He started serving fish sandwiches since many of his customers observed the practice of not eating meat on Fridays. Groen’s innovation was a hit, adopted into the McDonald’s master plan by 1963 and served nationwide by 1965.

And this is how it often happens in franchising, especially in younger franchise systems. The genesis of a lot of innovation is trial and error in the field by franchisees who have a need or see an opportunity and take action.

I’m a living example of this. The business system I received when I joined my franchise system in 1999 gave me a foundation to start and grow my business. I mastered the various elements of the business system and succeeded. Along the way, I found many ways to improve the system and identified potential opportunities to generate new business. Some things I tried worked terrifically, but others did not and cost me some time and money.

Fast forward to present day, and you’ll find my thumbprint, as well as those of other innovative franchisees, throughout our franchise training and business systems. Successful franchisees love to innovate, and franchisors love innovative franchisees. The lessons to take away here are:

  1. Those who choose a young franchise must start with the model that exists, the model that has worked for the franchisor. Once you’ve mastered that model, start acting on your ideas. Those that work may be incorporated into the franchise master plan. I can tell you that it is very rewarding to see your ideas and efforts adopted into the overall business system and benefit new franchisees joining the family.

  2. By choosing a younger franchise system, you are accepting the fact that you are a pioneer to a degree. You will spend your time and your money on some trial and error for improving the core business system. If you don’t like this fact, then don’t choose a young franchise. Choose a more established organization.

  3. While the balance of organizing and funding innovation does equalize as the franchise system matures, it is never exclusively the responsibility of the franchisor to continue to develop ways to improve and refine the franchise business system. I am a part of a 27-year-old company and I am still innovating on my own watch and nickel. I would leave if the opportunity to innovate no longer existed.

This is important for prospective and new franchise owners to understand when setting expectations about what they are going to “get” or not from the franchise system they choose. If a person wants to be a part of a franchise organization where corporate is leading (and funding) the innovation and testing and measuring, he needs to choose a more established company. Choosing a younger franchise can be a terrific way to get in on the ground floor at a lower cost with the first pick of territory, but if you do so, you cannot expect a young franchisor to behave like a mature franchisor.

Contact me today to begin the process. 

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