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How to Run a Wildly Successful Franchise Business

Starting and running a successful business can be challenging. Between developing a viable business plan, designing a product or service, and building your brand, the going can get tough. Buying into an established franchise can help shorten that process by providing with an already established business, with a proven business model, and backed by a strong brand that works.

While running a franchise is similar to running any other business, it comes with several unique perks that make things easier for you. A franchise brings the benefit of support and guidance from the franchisor, a great brand and step-by-step system to guide you, and a business model that has proven to be successful.

However, what you don’t get are the business skills required to operate, manage, and grow a thriving business. As Forbes advises, the most successful business owners operate with a defined plan, create effective processes and procedures to execute that plan, and constantly pursue personal and professional improvement.

In this guide we’ll discuss five core factors that help contribute to a flourishing franchise business, and how you can apply them for consistent growth in your pursuit of franchise freedom!

1. 12-Month Forward-Looking Business Plan

Nobody can run a successful business without a plan. And I’m not talking about a long piece of paper with a nice SWOT analysis and industry outlook that tells you nothing except that “shawarma sales will probably go up in late 2024”.

Before buying into the franchise, you likely took some time to strategize and research the profile and background of the franchise you wanted to purchase, so that you could determine if the opportunity would work for you. In much the same way, you need to develop a clear business plan that documents how you intend for your business to perform, the methods or steps you’ll need to take to achieve those goals, and the pieces you’re going to need to put in place to reach your desired profit level.

Ideally, your business plan will be a plain English summary of the 7 main parts of your business:

  • Marketing: How are you going to get the right people, to show up at the right time, in the right place (your location) to be ready to purchase your products and services? What marketing activities are you going to engage in and what’s your hypothesis on the Return On Investment for these activities? For example, if you spend $1,000 on Google Ads, you should expect $10,000 in sales – so a 10x ROI.
  • Sales: How many customers do you expect to serve in the coming year and what’s the average that they will pay you? This will give you your annual revenue projection. If you planned your marketing well, your last quarter of the year should have higher revenue than your first quarter of the year – so design the sales projection accordingly.
  • Production: How are you going to produce and deliver your product or service? What’s the process that you will follow to ensure that the product or service is delivered efficiently? The benefit of a franchise is that this is pretty much given to you in a package system!
  • People: How many employees do you currently have? Is that enough to produce and sell what you plan on doing for the year? If you’re going to sell 10,000 widgets to 10,000 customers, how many employees do you need in place to product 10,000 widgets, and by when do you need them?
  • Physical Plant: Is your space adequate to deliver the product or services that you intend to sell in the coming year? Most franchisees are usually subleasing a commercial unit from the franchisor or a landlord. If you need to expand, perhaps its time to put in a notice to the landlord to find larger space.
  • Money and Metrics: What weekly or monthly key performance indicators are you going to use to ensure that you’re on track with the plan that you created for the year? How are you going to manage the revenue that you make each month? Where do you plan on spending it and how much of it will you save for future capital expenses (like renovations)?
  • You: What are you going to do as the leader of this business to ensure that it stays on track with its plans? What personal or professional development are you going to invest in so that you can be a better, stronger and smarter leader of the business?

To support you in developing the above Business Plan, we recommend that you also work on creating the following supplementary plans that form part of your larger business plan:

  • Marketing plan, with month-by-month marketing activities you’ll engage in
  • 12-month forward looking budget + revenue projections
  • Hiring Plan, Capacity Analysis and Organization Chart

These can be separate documents or excel files that guide the various departments in your business, or it can be a single document to which everyone refers.

The Benefits of Having a 12-Month Forward-Looking Business Plan

With a business plan, you’ll be in a better position to anticipate the challenges your business might face during the year and strategize early enough on how to face them.

For example, if you design a plan to launch a new social media ad campaign in January and your marketing hypothesis is that a successful campaign should yield you 20 more customers per day at a cost of $1,000 ad spend per month, then you’ll also know that you’ll need to hire another employee for $40,000 per year by no later than March of that year as well. Therefore, if you need someone working on the job in March, you should start looking now and also allocate some savings towards that! Planning is how you prepare for the costs of running your franchise business while also ensuring that you’re actively feeding the growth of your business.

On the flip side, not having a business plan could expose your location to unwelcome surprises or leave you vulnerable to hidden costs and market forces. Nothing is worse than being blindsided by a low revenue month because you didn’t prioritize your marketing activities, even though your data (if you even looked it) shows that September is typically a down month. However, what if you got ahead this supposed ‘trend’ and created some new promotions for September? All of it requires planning!

Bonus Points: Once you’ve taken the time to write out your business plan and what you’re going to do on a month-by-month basis, it’s now time to pull out your calendar and start slotting these activities in! If you don’t plan in advance and carve out the time to do the little things that are needed to meet your larger goal, you’ll most likely be too busy in the day-to-day activities of your business to ever get it done.

2. Management, Hiring, and Leadership

Your business is only as good as those who lead and operate it. That’s why it’s critical to ensure your location is staffed with the right people – from top to bottom. And you shouldn’t stop at just bringing people in, also ensure you have enough staff to run the business efficiently and they’re operating in the right positions.

Imagine if you went to McDonald’s and the cashier was also the one responsible for going to the back and flipping burgers – how slow do you think service would be? While you’ll always find opportunities to manage costs by combining roles, don’t let that come at the expense of efficient business processes and providing good service!

In addition, everyone should have a role, including yourself. Just because you’re the owner, you don’t have to be the same person running marketing campaigns, taking client meetings, and keeping the accounting books. Lead from the front or whatever role you’re most effective in and let better people take care of the rest.

This also plays into delegation. Good leaders and entrepreneurs know the best way to get things done. Great leaders understand how to coax the best possible results from others. Spend time creating plans for success and thinking about effective systems to encourage high productivity and sustained results from staff at all levels.

Remember, your greatest asset as a leader is to be the visionary of the business… not in the back flipping burgers and then running to the cash register and then sorting out inventory and then manually doing payroll.

3. Leverage the System

Franchisors usually spend a painstaking number of years developing and refining the perfect franchise system so they can share it with franchisees like you. It’s often a proven, highly profitable, and highly efficient process. Make the most of it.

The franchise agreement will grant you access to well-developed operational processes, training programs, and marketing and advertising strategies. These systems can save you a ton of time and money. They will also increase your chances of successfully starting and running your franchise business.

However, you should keep in mind that gaining access to the franchisor’s systems also brings the responsibility to abide by their standards. Franchisors typically provide a set of rules and guidelines for franchisees to follow, including how to operate the business, how to market the business, and how to manage employees.

Any departure from these standards, whether intentional or not, may expose you to penalties or even result in the termination of your franchise. Thankfully, you’ll have all the tools you need to stay compliant. The franchisor will typically provide you with a handbook that has all the franchise’s standards and systems, along with a detailed guide on how to do everything in the business.

4. Be a Squeaky Wheel

They say the squeaky wheel gets all the attention. What we mean by this is that when you join a franchise, you have the franchisor in your corner and you also have other successful franchisees in your corner. Don’t be afraid to reach out and get the support and guidance you need! Most business owners are too shy to ask for help. This is usually their downfall.

Building and maintaining strong relationships with your franchisor and fellow franchisees can be a great way to access informal advice and a strong support network. More experienced franchisees have likely seen it all. They can help you through challenges that seem insurmountable and provide tips to help you through. As the owner of a successful brand that’s grown large enough to become a franchise, the franchisor would also be an unending source of valuable information. Be sure to speak up and seek their help when you need it.

Likewise, pursuing good relationships with your employees and customers can help you grow a successful business. Maintaining positive relationships with customers through regular communication, customer feedback and satisfaction surveys can help you retain them and improve their experience with your franchise. Keeping your employee happy, and seeking their views on how the workplace experience can improve, will also increase retention and productivity.

5. Great Service

Even if you run a quick and cheap oil change franchise (like a few of our clients), nothing trumps good service. Good service keeps customers coming back for repeat business and referring all their friends and family.

Don’t try to cut corners to make a quicker buck today at the cost of having a lifetime customer forever. A customer that comes back forever doesn’t cost you anything, but getting a new customer through your doors will likely cost you more in marketing dollars!

It’s important to regularly review and analyze your business performance, identify areas for improvement and take appropriate actions to keep your franchise operation healthy and profitable.

Conclusion

Owning and running a franchise business can be a rewarding experience, but it also comes with its own set of challenges. By creating a detailed plan, hiring the right people, and leveraging the franchisor’s proven systems, you can increase your chances of growing a profitable and sustainable franchise business.

If you would like more detailed advice on how to run a successful franchise, speak with an experienced franchise lawyer today. Download our Ultimate Franchise Negotiation Package for franchisees looking to purchase a franchise business.

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