We’ve entered an age where consumers choose their products and services as much for their values as what they offer. That’s what makes franchising, as a truly transparent business model, an appealing option for today’s would-be business owners.
According to Clive Robinson, Master Franchisee and Education Consultant at Tutor Doctor, there are three values underpinning the owner-operated franchise: transparency, flexibility and being mutually inclusive. Robinson has based this observation on his extensive experience in the sector; first as the General Manager of Curves, the world’s largest women-only fitness franchise, then as a member of the executive board and new member committee at the Franchise Association of South Africa (FASA). Robinson’s latest move sees him launching the Tutor Doctor brand – a business offering one-to-one tutoring at clients’ homes – in South Africa.
Robinson’s conviction that “franchising is the most honest business model available” hinges on the relationship between franchisor and franchisee. For instance, he notes that while franchisors are expected to act with good faith towards potential business owners, so too must franchisees transact with the utmost integrity. To foster this win/win relationship, it may help to set up a Franchise Advisory Council: “Although there is a danger that this may be used as a platform for voicing complaints rather than constructive engagement, if properly managed a council can be highly effective in ensuring that all parties behave with complete transparency,” he notes. He advises that, for the best results, the franchisor should select council members from nominations amongst the franchisee network, always emphasising the message that transparency benefits not only the entire group, but the individuals within it.
The group dynamic may also be nurtured by allowing a certain amount of flexibility. Robinson maintains that if franchisors empower franchisees by allowing them to tweak the model where necessary, they are more likely to be successful. Think of it this way: the trappings that may appeal to a market in one area may leave another market entirely unmoved. “Naturally, there are some factors in a business which must remain non-negotiable, but where there is room for a franchisee to place his or her own stamp on the business, this may work to their advantage.”
This leads to Robinson’s next point: the sense of mutuality that underscores the franchising relationship. “It comes down to this,” says Robinson: “When a franchise does well, the franchisor has more funds to invest back into the business in the form of marketing, development or promotion. This ultimately leads to even better performance.” He adds that it’s not enough to assume that both parties understand the mutually inclusive nature of their relationship; rather, it should be formalised at all points of the relationship, from pre-entry negotiations to performance contracts, dispute resolution and the end of the agreement. “Both parties must be aware of their mutual responsibilities,” Robinson comments. “This benefits both: every successful franchise system has a proven formula. The franchisor provides a structure and framework, and if franchisees work within this, their day to day operations become simple and straightforward – and they have a greater chance of success.”
When all elements of the franchise model are working in perfect harmony, little can go wrong, Robinson insists. “Each member of the system must recognise that the more successful one is, the more successful all will be. While there’s plenty for the franchisor at stake – including their brand – franchisees also have a lot to lose if they don’t give of their best.” They are personally invested in the business and may be on the way to creating their own empire. It’s the best kind of feedback system, where everyone stands to gain so long as they all play their part. This simple acknowledgment drives each person to give of their best.”
And that, Robinson concludes, is precisely why franchising stands above other business formats for business owners concerned with openness and honesty.
Source: Michelle Cavé – PR Consultant Brandfundi
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