Emily Price, chief operating officer of the bfa, explores what and how franchise businesses are gearing up to successfully navigate these waters
Competition is intensifying and businesses are changing their strategies as a result. Engendering an agile culture to support growth and remain brand relevant is critical to success.
In franchising, we see examples of brands struggling because of changing consumer demands and the demands of staff who have different needs to those of 10 or 20 years ago. With this trend seemingly not letting up, I wanted to explore what and how franchise businesses are gearing up to successfully navigate these waters.
Closed door boardrooms no more?
Franchising as a concept has many strengths, one of which is the potential to serve a large customer base across multiple territories.
Tapping into the experiences of franchisees on the front line is becoming increasingly popular as an insight mechanism to help successful operational development decision making. Franchisee feedback is being encouraged by the use of councils, forums and even board positions. This not only protects the network but provides opportunities for franchisees to have an input in the overall direction of the business.
Experimental evolution is key
No successful business became successful without some failure. It’s true that franchising achieves low failure rates due to the franchisor proving the core model from the outset. However, this is not where it ends.
Brand relevance is dependent on wowing customers, providing them with the convenience they need, the experience they desire or the emotional connection they subliminally strive for to be brand loyal. Once a franchisor franchises the business, they are then responsible for the ongoing development of products and services and overall reputation of the brand.
Most will maintain at least one company-owned outlet to operate as a test bed for development, others may work in collaboration with a franchise partner. Either way, franchising is becoming more network inclusive and innovative, which is a great recipe for success.
Leadership - boss or servant?
Although many businesses still operate hierarchical structures with lengthy approval processes, we have seen that this can be a hindrance to internal development, well-being and competitiveness in the fight for market share, but more importantly the attraction and retention of talent.
The next generation leader is proving to be a facilitator of strategy. They ensure teams are versed and equipped with all the tools to perform their roles. But not only that, they also take seriously providing an environment of inclusivity and a platform for contribution. Every person is dealt with humility and consideration, a realisation that the changing habits of the human race in a digital age require an openness to consider a flexible approach to doing business that achieves balance across life.
Educating on trends and empowering women
The British Franchise Association leads on franchise education and provides insights to changing trends to support opportunities for growth in the sector.
Pip Wilkins, CEO of the association, is a keen advocate of empowering women in business and believes franchising can unlock the potential for women with the determination and drive to be their own boss or who wish to franchise businesses to provide that opportunity to others.
Empowering Women in Business 2019 takes place on November 14 in Oxford and focuses on ‘The changing culture of business’, a direct response to some of the themes in this column.
Emily Price is chief operating officer at the British Franchise Association