Get LINKED TO Your Franchise Community

Why it is important to network together with your fellow franchisors.

"Running a business for yourself, however, not on your own . ."

Perhaps no phrase in franchising is fairly as overused as that one. In just about any instance in which it really is used, it identifies the franchisee-who, while acting as an unbiased business, receives initial training and the ongoing support of a franchisor in areas such as for example site selection, lease negotiation, purchasing, merchandising, advertising and other business systems.

However in franchising, the thought of being "running a business for yourself, however, not by yourself" could be taken a step further. Franchisors, who might otherwise need to go it alone, may use the collective understanding of the franchise community all together to boost their operations and otherwise increase their productivity.

THE ENERGY of Networking Some years back, an extremely prominent franchisor was attending a cocktail party at a meeting sponsored by the International Franchise Association. While franchise sales were going well, he was lamenting the business’s inability to get royalties on a timely basis. One seasoned franchise veteran’s solution was simple: Tie purchasing discounts to timely royalty payments. Seven days later, the answer was implemented, and the collection problem was largely solved.

The old saying is that "it isn’t everything you know, but who you understand." As the example above illustrates, sometimes, it isn’t just who you understand, but what they know.

Networking within the franchise community provides both you with a significant possibility to gain insight to industry guidelines firsthand-from executives who’ve "been there and done that."

Apart from well-intentioned networking, additionally, there are opportunities once and for all, old-fashioned competitive intelligence gathering and benchmarking. If among your major competitors were giving a speech on the most recent trends in franchise to generate leads, it could seem only prudent to wait.

Isolation can only just make sure that few fresh ideas will enter one’s body, even though you are standing still, your competition tend gaining ground.

Strange Bedfellows Beyond the educational value, networking within the franchise community can have an array of unanticipated benefits.

As an evergrowing franchisor, among your first and foremost needs is to find visitors to populate your flourishing organization. Even though you can simply use management recruiters or "grow your own talent," cultivating relationships within the franchise community permits you to know just what sort of talent is available and at what price. And occasionally, you’ll sit back to lunch with somebody who could take your company to another level.

Likewise, the franchise community is filled up with potential alliances that may not be readily apparent on the top. Some years back, I was involved with a study for a significant oil company that wanted co-brand partners for his or her c-store operation-and among the finalists was a company I would do not have considered if not for a lunch I spent with their CEO. Perhaps more important given the recent spate of venture capitalists, buyers and sellers in the franchise marketplace may be the possibility to begin cultivating relationships that could provide ownership with an exit, merger or acquisition opportunity.

Not to mention, there will be the franchisees. Most of the events aimed toward the franchise community will attract franchisees along with franchisors. And some of the franchisees could be looking for additional concepts to increase their portfolios.

The types of opportunities are almost limitless. Through the years, I’ve seen franchisors form alliances to co-market franchises at joint seminars. I’ve even seen instances where franchisors have sent leads that may have otherwise been discarded to other franchisors that those leads may have value.

Not to mention, none of the could have happened in vacuum pressure.

Accessing the city The first rung on the ladder in accessing the franchise community, for some franchisors, is to join the IFA ( ). Founded in 1960, the IFA is a trade organization made up of franchisors, franchisees and vendors to the franchise community that’s focused on the advancement of franchising and franchise-related causes. The IFA gives you numerous opportunities for both networking and franchise education.

Possibly the single biggest event for the networking franchisor may be the IFA’s Annual Convention. A lot more than 2,000 franchise industry executives are anticipated to wait this year’s event, which, furthermore to providing networking activities, will host a large number of educational sessions on just about any topic of interest to franchisors and franchisees alike.

Events just like the IFA’s Annual Convention offer another important benefit to franchisors: a chance to talk with industry suppliers who focus on franchising. These suppliers provide franchisors with a chance to learn about the most recent developments on services and products. Some of these services and products include POS systems, franchise intranet sites, lead tracking software, franchise advertising vehicles, specialized insurance packages, personnel management, franchise brokers, recruiting services and consulting services. Nowhere can a franchisor learn so much about such a multitude of services and products offered by one venue.

The IFA also offers a number of other vehicles for franchisors to network and gain ideas. The Franchise Business Network hosts quarterly meetings in 30 cities around North America-these meetings feature speakers on topics of franchise significance, and, in several these cities, are co-hosted by the Women’s Franchise Network. For all those with a far more political bent, the annual Franchise Appreciation Day occurs in Washington, DC, where franchisors talk with legislators to discuss various problems worth focusing on. The International Franchise Expo ( see last month’s article ) provides another good networking opportunity.

Each one of these events offers franchisors an opportunity to meet the leaders in franchising also to reap the benefits of their decades of experience.

Beyond the IFA, there are many opportunities to build your network within the franchise community-industry specific industry events (just like the National Restaurant Show for restaurateurs) provide more focused networking. And apart from "pressing the flesh," you will surely want to read all you can on what’s happening in the franchise community.

In the current rapidly changing digital marketplace, it really is imperative to stay prior to the curve. For most people, that means culling the very best ideas and implementing guidelines out of every source possible.

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