Franchising is a business strategy for getting and keeping customers. It is a marketing system for creating an image in the minds of current and future customers about how the company's products and services can help them. It is a method for distributing products and services that satisfy customer needs.
Franchising is a network of interdependent business relationships that allows a number of people to share:
- A brand identification
- A successful method of doing business
- A proven marketing and distribution system
In short, franchising is a strategic alliance between groups of people who have specific relationships and responsibilities with a common goal to dominate markets, i.e., to get and keep more customers than their competitors.
There are many misconceptions about franchising, but probably the most widely held is that you as a franchisee are "buying a franchise." In reality you are investing your assets in a system to utilize the brand name, operating system and ongoing support. You and everyone in the system are licensed to use the brand name and operating system.
The business relationship is a joint commitment by all franchisees to get and keep customers. Legally you are bound to get and keep them using the prescribed marketing and operating systems of the franchisor.
To be successful in franchising you must understand the business and legal ramifications of your relationship with the franchisor and all the franchisees. Your focus must be on working with other franchisees and company managers to market the brand, and fully use the operating system to get and keep customers.
Other franchisees and company operated units are not your competition. The opposite is true. They and you share the task of establishing the brand as the dominant brand in all markets entered and reinforcing the customers's familiarity with and trust in the brand. So in this respect you are working as a team with others in the system. Other franchisees share with you the responsibility for quality, consistency, convenience, and other factors that define your franchise and insures repeat business for everyone. Increasing the value of the brand name is a shared responsibility of the franchisor and franchisee.
An "ownership mentality" destroys the reason franchised and company-operated units are successful. Think about it. If you think you "bought" a franchise, you become an "owner" and begin to think and act like an owner. You will want to change the system because of your needs, you will wonder what you are paying the royalty for, and you will begin thinking of other franchisees as your competitors. For these and many other reasons you do not want to think of yourself as an "independent owner."
As a franchisee you own the assets of your company, which you have chosen to invest in someone else's brand and operating system and ongoing support. You own the assets of your company, you are licensed to operate someone else's business system.
Finally, your desire to become a franchisee must be grounded in your belief that you can be more successful using someone else's brand and operating according to their systems and methods, than you could if you opened up your own independent business and competed against them. You want to look for a franchisor who is building a system of interdependent franchisees who are committed to getting and keeping customers, to growing faster than the market, to growing faster than the competitors, and to do all of that with high margins. When you discover a franchisor who understands this relationship, you have a franchisor worth your consideration.
The strength of franchising
Franchising is the most popular system for growing a business in the United States today. According to every governmentn survey, franchising has experienced explosive growth since the mid-70's and is expected to be the leading method of doing business in the new century.
In the United States, there are over 2,500 franchise systems. These systems have in excess of 534,000 franchise units which represent 3.2% of the total businesses. This 3.2% of all businesses controls over 35% of all retail and service revenue in the U.S. economy.
Franchising's advantages over going into business for yourself include; opening quicker, experiencing success sooner, developing a customer base faster, having less risk and being more profitable.
Your success as a franchisee is based on the proven success of the franchisor to operate company units and upon the success of existing franchisees.
A company franchises because it wants to quickly and in great numbers replicate its successful company operations without significantly increasing its debt. Because it has been successful at teaching its own employees to operate the business, the company believes it can repeat the same success by teaching others to do it.
In franchising, the operating system becomes identified with the brand or trade name that you license as a franchisee. Each franchise system uses precise methods to service and satisfy the customer. By documenting these practices, the franchisor institutionalizes the buying experience. Because customers don't like surprises this consistency in operations, unit to unit, builds customer loyalty to the brand.
Franchising is successful because we Americans are people of habit and are brand-driven when we purchase goods and services. We trust brands that we see everywhere, every day. We tend to be loyal to a product or service delivered to us the same way all the time.
Investing in a franchise
In reality you are taking your assets, which you own, and investing them in someone elses' brand and operating system. You will always own your assets. You will always own your corporation. But you will "do business as" (dba) a licensee of the franchisor.
*Author - Bob Gappa is president of Management 2000, featured in Franchising.com. The Pooch Mobile is a Franchise Opportunity.