The ins and outs of franchise development
Encountering the level of success which would warrant transitioning your restaurant or retail outlet into a franchise is the dream of many an entrepreneur. It’s a validation of not only your concept, but also your business acumen – and it means that you’re not only profitable but potentially on the verge of breakout success. It is also a highly sensitive time. The promise of expansion comes with the potential for failure, and the difference between the two is often a matter of attention to fine details.
Entering into a franchise
There are several ways you might have approached this fork in your entrepreneurial journey. You may be buying into an existing franchise, kicking off your business as a franchise or, having enjoyed large scale local success, be transitioning into a franchise. Fortunately, for the purposes of our guide, the next steps you tackle will have key elements in common, but there are some distinctions to be made first.
Buying into an existing franchise will mean that you have less freedom, as you’ll need to uphold someone else’s concept and business model. It does, however, also mean that you’ll enjoy more security as that concept has already proven that it works.
Starting off as a franchise is a business gamble. Essentially, you’re going big or going home. Success or failure here is largely based on the specifics of your concept, customer service, originality and local market growth – so it’s critical that these elements are impeccably researched.
Lastly, you may be transitioning into a franchise. This is the slow and steady route which allows you more room for error and recovery. You’re able to test various marketing and service techniques over a period of time, embracing those which lead to growth and brand development, and dispensing with those which don’t. The challenge here boils down to the locations for your budding franchise outlets, and whether your successful local model will work as well in them.
A great deal of thought needs to be paid to your marketing material, store/restaurant layout and overall unity across outlets. A unified message is essential across social media platforms but there is room for some localisation in those messages. The same goes for your physical outlet. What customers loved about the original, they must also find in your franchised outlet.
Let’s take a look at a local real-world example, Spur. This particular chain has an American Indian/steak house theme, and is marketed as an affordable family orientated venue. The combination worked well for many reasons, but their widescale success came on the back of uniformity across their franchise outlets. It was a concept which, while unique, also had universal appeal – it could have worked almost anywhere.
If you’re starting off as a franchise, your concept would need to be ironclad in the same way. Ask yourself the following questions:
- What problem will my business solve?
- What are my core business beliefs and how will my business express them?
- What are my overheads and how long can I operate without making a profit?
- Is my concept universal in nature or will it need to be tweaked in different locations?
- Who are my primary competitors and how is my business better?
While many elements of your original outlet need to be transitioned ‘as is’ to your franchised ones, layout can differ fairly dramatically. Starting new stores with different space limitations could actually be a blessing in disguise, as it allows you to take what you’ve learned and apply it from scratch. As we say, proper retail space planning is an essential part of retail design. It cannot be overestimated. Refurbishing and construction costs a great deal of money, it’s far more cost effective to get it right the first time, which makes hiring a professional a very good idea.
You’ll likely have learned a great deal from running your original store and insiders will tell you there are several layout tricks which can make a big difference to your bottom line.
READ MORE: The secret sales tricks of retail design
Beyond your structural layout there are a myriad of additional elements to consider such as:
- Interior design
- Lighting design
- Retail design trends
- Colour theory
- Shopper theory
Consultation with an interior design professional can be critical to ensure that nothing is overlooked. Realising one’s dream is a fantastic journey which can take a lifetime, but done right, by limiting the margin for error, you will arrive – and we wish you well on your endeavour.