Maintaining Quality and Integrity as Your Franchise Grows to 500 Units
There is no shortage of challenges facing a franchised business. From start-up to international expansion, each stage of growth is filled with unique challenges that require new skills and expertise to keep the business growing smoothly. A brand new set of challenges have faced Goddard Systems as we approach the 500-store milestone, including those related to growth, vision and scalability.
Reasonable and Responsible Growth
When all seems to be going well, it can be tempting to push for faster growth. This is an easy trap in which to fall, so it is important to remember to plan for unforeseen events. Reasonable and responsible growth is paramount to the health and well-being of the system. While there is nothing scientific about this, it's been my experience that at about 100 units, the concept has been proven. At about 250, the ability to replicate the concept has been proven. At about 500, one has proven that processes are in place to scale for continued growth and success.
As a business approaches critical growth milestones, the number of business opportunities increase proportionately. Knowing when to say “No” is essential, allowing the business to focus appropriate attention and resources on supporting existing franchisees, which often invites more opportunities to succeed. We are always excited at the opportunity to grow with existing, successful franchisees.
A Shared Vision
Perhaps more important than being selective with real estate is being selective with the new franchisees who will become partners in the success of your business. Goddard does not sell franchises; we award licenses. We look for prospective franchisees who share in our values and our vision. We look for those who have a passion for the business. We use tools such as personality surveys to help us compare traits exhibited by our most successful franchisees with those of prospective franchisees. While the results are not the sole deciding factor, they are important to the assessment of the ability to fit within the organization. By the time a business is closing in on its 500th location, it should already have a clear profile of the ideal franchisee, but now is also the time to revisit these criteria and verify that they still align with the organization’s future business goals. It pays to be selective in this regard - to ensure the focus on franchisees who understand the company’s vision for the future and who are prepared to help the brand continue its growth.
Scalability for Continued Quality
As a franchised business continues to grow, it becomes increasingly challenging to work directly with each franchisee on a one-on-one basis. We have developed automated systems for segments of franchisee training and marketing tools that empower franchisees to create their own advertising pieces. With the addition of mass communication and self-empowerment tools, we are able to maintain scalability while ensuring the highest quality of support. Having the processes in place as you approach 500 units is critical to maintaining a consistent level of quality across your entire system.
In addition, holding an annual, system-wide conference provides an opportunity for the stakeholders in your business to collaborate and align all aspects of the franchise while allowing franchisees to share insights and best practices. The conference is also an excellent forum for the senior leadership team to outline its high-level vision for continued success. And, most importantly, this type of event provides the opportunity for franchisees, franchisor employees and senior leadership team members to personally connect, network and re-energize one another.
By understanding the specific challenges faced at this important stage in the growth of the franchise, one can prepare oneself to make the decisions that will maintain the high level of success that brought the business to this point. While 500 locations may feel like a whole different ballgame, many of these solutions are a natural extension of the strategies that allowed the successful franchising of the business in the first place. Careful stewardship, efficient communication with all stakeholders and a thorough understanding of franchisees and locations will ensure success at 500 and beyond.