Launching an International Brand: The Need-to-Knows
International expansion is the natural next step for franchisors looking to broaden their reach. But it’s not as easy as simply selling your franchise concept to someone in a different country and crossing your fingers that it will be successful.
There are hundreds of considerations to think through before the brand continues down the road to international success, but the first step must be to conduct thorough research. Both internal and external research can have a powerful impact on the success of international growth.
I have learned an array of lessons through my experience of launching three brands internationally, but all can be boiled down to three key findings.
Immerse yourself in the culture
Finding success within a new market starts with research. Extensive research and exploratory travel are the keys to finding the hidden gems within the culture that the brand can mold around in order to thrive. Conducting market research through physically taking a trip to your target market to explore the culture and learn the business etiquette will immediately set you apart within the industry. Take every opportunity to connect with industry professionals in the area to learn what it takes to run a business there from the experts themselves.
Miscommunication is unavoidable when there is a cultural barrier. During your research and immersion phase, take precautions into consideration and hire translators who can help guide you through specific customs. They can help take your brand’s message and convey it in a respectful, appropriate manner. By showing the locals you care enough to take the time to understand their business customs, your brand will gain trust and respect.
Hold yourself to a proven standard
Regardless of location, the brand should provide all customers with the same experience. This can be attributed to a thorough initial training, the consistency of a proven business model and supporting your franchisee. Take pride in the fact that your company is able to grow internationally because of your franchise partners – the brand is only as good as they are.
One key finding that is used throughout my brands is a three-level support structure: franchise partners, regional master franchisors and home office. Each level supports each other in a unique way, but by dividing the support into three groups ensures that no single group ever becomes overwhelmed.
As you grow your brand, be considerate of near and long-term goals of both the brand and the network of franchisees within. Acknowledge the fact that those you are working with have personal and professional goals they are working toward to further drive the brand as a whole.
Diversify your brand
Within the competitive home-based franchise industry, it is no secret that you need to diversify your brand. This can also include initial training, utilizing a proven business model and consistently supporting franchisees because franchisees will be your leading asset.
With franchisees being the day-to-day face of the brand, it is important that everyone is telling the same company story. Through means of marketing techniques, public relations, both local and national and personal networking interactions, the brand’s voice should be the biggest factor in diversifying your brand.
Finally, the greatest lesson in diversifying and growing your brand internationally in my experience is that old-fashioned customer service and attention to detail both in dealing with consumer customers and our franchise partners has made the most potent impact to date.
A proven expert in international franchising, Bill Redfern, Founder, President and CEO of Global Franchise Opportunities, is responsible for the development, growth and success of the standout home-focused concepts of A Buyer’s Choice Home Inspections (ABCHI), iCare – Intelligent Home Care Solutions and iHandyman. His first concept, ABCHI, became the largest Canadian home inspection franchise after only two years of operation, and subsequently grew into one of the world’s largest home inspection companies. Today, ABCHI has over 200 franchises operating in 15 countries around the world. Following ABCHI’s worldwide success, Redfern launched iCare – Intelligent Home Care Solutions in 2014 to meet the home healthcare needs of seniors everywhere and iHandyman in 2015 to meet every home repair need across the globe.