An established franchisor reveals the techniques he’s used to build a multi-unit business
Tips for growing your franchise
1. Attitude: be solution-focused
This is about your and your staff’s attitude. It’s the realisation that a business, whether it’s a franchise, an independent or a national/multinational chain, exists to solve problems.
Being solution-focused means, firstly, that you acknowledge this and then ensure your staff understand and own this in their behaviour on the ‘shop floor’ every day.
2. Doing: be the most trusted and respected business of your type in the marketplace
This covers the ‘how’ of being solution-focused. How you operate your franchise on a day-to-day basis and how you interact with current and potential customers.
Armed with a solution-focused attitude, you and your staff will be able to engage with customers in a manner that demonstrates you’re addressing their needs by providing solutions to their problems.
In practice, this means your staff will be sincere, flexible and creative when engaging with customers and will even start anticipating their needs. It’s an important attribute and a reason why some independents succeed in spite of competition from large chains.
By being taken care of, your customers will form a bond with your business and, as a result, be encouraged to refer new customers to you.
As a franchisee, you have in effect invested in a process for serving your customers. However, in my experience, the real value comes from the personal qualities you and your staff bring to the customer experience.
By being the most trusted and respected business in your industry or geographical area, the quality of each customer interaction will skyrocket and tip the scales in the direction of your success.
This will also improve the level of job satisfaction in your business, resulting in the many spin-off benefits that arise, including staff wellness, retention, low absence, staff flexibility and easier recruitment.
Tips for marketing your franchise
While the nature of marketing will vary according to the industry, here are some general tips that will have a positive impact on your business:
1. What to say: communicate strategically
Ensure your general marketing is strategic, as opposed to tactical. For simplicity, read strategic as long-term and tactical as short-term.
A strategic message would relate to a long-term objective - to communicate your values or demonstrate how you’re acting with customers’ best interests at heart - whereas a tactical message could relate to a short-term objective, such as to maximize sales or clear old stock by communicating that a sale is on.
In my experience, trust in the business will increase significantly as current and potential customers begin to appreciate that your marketing message is not just focused on the short term.
Formulate a long-term message for your business and ensure you focus your marketing efforts on communicating that message. My best advice would be to focus your efforts on understanding it, as opposed to trying to sell it. You’ll then be able to demonstrate this understanding in your marketing activity.
2. How often to say it: communicate regularly
There’s a need for you to communicate your marketing messages regularly in order to ensure the audience is in a receptive mode to hear them.
We know advertisements need to be repeated in order to be ingrained in the minds of customers. Another way of looking at this is that your customer may be preoccupied with day-to-day demands and not be ready to receive the marketing message, even though it applies to them.
By communicating frequently, there’s an increase in the likelihood of your customers receiving your message.
3. How to say it: communicate consistently
Ensure your marketing message is consistent, represents the key focus of your marketing activities and is in line with any earlier messages.
Your aim should be that each time the recipient receives your message, it’s coherent and ties up with an earlier message. Indeed, it may be simpler and more cost-effective to devise one marketing message and repeat it regularly.
4. Who to say it to focus your communications
This comes down to how your customer base is represented in your industry and relates to how widely or narrowly you cast your marketing net.
Whenever possible, market to your best customers if you can identify them. This can be achieved by profiling them or there may be clear key buyers in your industry.
Beware that in the digital age there are many ways to engage with customers, meaning the key message may get lost due to the plethora of online media options available.
Align your marketing message to customers’ media consumption and focus on your target audience. This in itself will make the message easier to define and less costly to implement.
• Be solution-focused and always have your customers’ interests at heart. They will pick up on this in a way you can never convince them of through any advertising or marketing.
• Keep your marketing simple and communicate a strategic message frequently.
Ghulam Alahi co-owns a portfolio of EE franchises in the London area. He’s also managing director of London-based accounting and consulting firm Vision Consulting.