What job does a franchise manager do?
The franchise manager’s job is to help franchisees optimise the sales and profit from their respective franchises. I am the main communication link between the franchisor and the franchisees, so my role is really varied.
I work in numerous ways - helping new franchisees to set up, assisting in new business situations and working with franchisees to optimise account sales. I have worked at Card Connection for 10 years. Previously I was an area manager for Shell and before that was employed in retail for a further io years. This experience allows me to see the point of view of a retail manager, supplier and, of course, the franchisor. I generate ideas that will create win-win situations for all involved in the supply chain.
What does Card Connection do?
Card Connection is a leading greeting card publisher and franchisor. The company’s team of franchisees hand pick and deliver greeting cards from a range of 1,500 innovative designs, including Sante, humour, handmade and special occasions cards.
Using a proven system, franchisees place greeting card ranges in retail outlets on a consignment basis, which is a little like sale or return. The franchisees also merchandise stock within retail outlets to ensure seasonal product is always up to date and displays look fresh and appealing to consumers. As well as many independent stores, Card Connection franchisees also supply other key national accounts in this way, including the likes of BP, Costcutter, Londis, Budgens, Spar, and WHS Travel.
What is a typical day for a franchise manager?
I work with franchisees from the West Midlands to Cornwall and everywhere in between. I live in Berkshire, which means I am ideally placed to visit the 20 franchisees in the central and south west region around every eight weeks or so. This also means I am up early and on the road almost every day except Fridays, which I reserve to catch up on paperwork and for any issues that require early attention. I can reach Birmingham in a couple of hours, but to minimise travel as much as possible I often spend one or two nights a week away. This allows me to optimise my own call routes - something I also help franchisees to achieve.
I usually spend up to two days with each franchisee. I accompany the franchisee on calls to see how I can help them increase sales and optimise profit. This may mean I supply on-the-job training or negotiate with the retail manager for a better area to put the greeting card display stand. It may involve coming up with ideas on how to improve merchandising layout, or introducing new products like Card Connection’s gift or party accessory ranges.
In addition to visits to retailers, I work closely with franchisees on the financial side of their businesses. We have a simple profit and loss system that allows us to analyse the health of the franchise easily. Often franchisees are heavily involved with the day-to-day activity of delivering and merchandising greeting cards and don’t take the time to sit back and look at the bigger financial picture.
Each time I visit a franchisee we spend time discussing how they are doing, assessing how this relates to the financial reality and look in detail at individual retail accounts. Sometimes franchisees believe business has slowed, but actually, due to the plans we have implemented to increase sales or upsell to consumers, profit has improved. If sales have decreased for any reason we can go into a particular store to find out why and address the issue quickly.
One franchisee I recently worked with needed some input on sales of greeting cards in a particular retail account that seemed to be under performing. The franchisee had ensured the right numbers of greeting cards were merchandised and the display was in a good location in the store. However, sales were still not as good as anticipated.
By working with the franchisee to analyse the stock that was on display, we found more designs that would appeal to men rather than women on a ratio of 9:1. With research showing that many more women buy greeting cards than men, it was clear the female oriented cards had sold far more quickly and the franchisee had not noticed this when topping up with mixed stock. Over time this had created a male bias, which was slower to sell.
I encouraged the franchisee to take out all the merchandise and refresh the range completely on a regular basis. As the display pockets had also been overfilled slightly, he was able to make a saving on the stock in store, create the right product mix and increase sales all in one go.
What about broader issues?
An eye for detail is important. However, I also need to look at broader issues and a lot of work goes on at a high level to help franchisees. For example, we have a network of national retail accounts and negotiations and agreements are set up on behalf of franchisees. Part of my role is to ensure franchisees understand the needs of these large retail chains and how best to fulfil them.
Sometimes the requirements may be time sensitive. For example, a chain may have a protocol that means certain seasonal stock needs to be removed or delivered by a specific date. If the franchisee supplies several stores in the chain in different geographical locations this can be demanding, and so I provide hands-on support to ensure the deadlines are met.
On the other hand, sometimes smaller groups of retailers get together to form mini-groups and a franchisee will need input when meeting with representatives of these organisations. Having the support of the franchise behind the franchisee in this way is an opportunity to show the retailers the logical thought and effort that goes behind product design, consumer targeting, merchandising layout, servicing, trading up and tailoring the offering appropriately. Where the retail manger may have only met with the franchisee previously, this is also a chance to show how that franchisee is part of a much larger and established organisation that is constantly striving to increase sales and improve profit margins for both retailer and franchisee.
Generating new business is also an area I help out on. Going into new retail accounts for the first time can be a little daunting, especially for new franchisees, so I often provide support by accompanying franchisees on those first new calls. Being able to demonstrate that head office is loo per cent behind the franchisees can sometimes make or break opening a new and lucrative account.
At the end of the day, my mobile is always switched on and I am on hand to help franchisees with whatever they need.
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