In almost any profession or major human endeavor we can analyze, there is a substantial benefit to being able to react and make changes fast and be where you need to be positioned for your best outcome. That counts for franchises as much as any other category.
When we look at all the franchise opportunities out there, some are built to be lean and nimble, others are built for one purpose, in one market and if the rules change then they may perish. Those big immovable brands have a hard time in markets that change.
The lean and nimble brands will be around for a long time and offer franchise owners the greatest odds for years of hitting home runs.
So, let’s talk about what to look for.
When I talk to my candidates about what they can change, and what they can’t they often bring up real estate. Yes, a fixed location is a hard or long-term change item. You can subdivide, expand or otherwise modify your physical location. In time, you can move to a different location. No matter the path you go down, it will take time and money to make that shift in your commercial real estate.
For this reason to eliminate that potential point of friction we look at businesses that have easier real estate like office or mixed use space where leases can often be shorter and easier to change if the nature of your business changes. The most common change for businesses in these types of locations is growth of the business requiring more space.
Those businesses with commercial real estate are also sometimes the businesses with big staff requirements, think restaurants. While staffing can be limited or pared down in those operations, it can be a challenge like changing real estate.
If you are going to be lean on staffing it is usually best to set a business up for that from the start, not to try to take a heavy staff business and try to lean it out. If you do find yourself is a spot where you are having trouble finding staff or with labor cost then automation with be your path, but it often comes with a set up cost.
In restaurants you can use a cell phone app to either augment or replace your counter-based ordering. Both full service and quick serve restaurants can use QR codes to take a cell phone user to an online menu for ordering. Once the orders are complete then the restaurant staff can either deliver to-go bags to a staging area or deliver to the table they are dining at. This can help streamline the front of house staffing.
Streamlining the back of the house cooking, dishwashing, etc can be a different challenge in every operation. Restaurants can move to more prepared foods, they can cut down on what they need to wash and other labor cutting measures.
For our candidates that look at service bases businesses where the service is provided at the customers residence or place of business, labor is often very streamlined and often made up of professional staff that is easier to find and doesn’t turn over as often.
That said, there are still measures a franchise can take to improve how they operate and remain nimble.
One of the most forward thinking franchise companies I know is building solutions every time they find a need their franchisees have. One of their first nimble solutions they built was when they saw that an outdoor lighting franchise they had acquired had very long lead times waiting for inventory to be made overseas then shipped to them for each franchisee.
They placed a massive order for custom lighting, rented a warehouse, put an inventory management system in place and now franchisees have immediate access to a supply of lighting because their franchisor made a huge investment on their behalf.
Next came trucks and equipment, then they acquired a staffing company, a marketing company, an accounting company, built an in-house customer service call center and more.
While they are selling franchises they are focused first on building the right system so those franchisees have the tools they need and don’t get bogged down trying to create them at the franchisee level. Because of their commitment to building those resources, they are getting a lot of attention from candidates and will have a long run of robust growth ahead.
Nimble solutions can cover a range of operational challenges. Having a supportive franchisor can be a big benefit if they will put them together for the entire franchise system. Trying to assemble solutions on your own can be time consuming and expensive. If you have to do that, find those that have gone before you.
In the coming years being lean and nimble will be critical to your success.
What will your success story be? Let’s go find it!
George Knauf is a highly sought after, trusted advisor to many companies; Public, Independent and Franchised, of all sizes and in many markets. His 20 plus years of experience in both start-up and mature business operations makes him uniquely qualified to advise individuals that have dreamed of going into business for themselves in order to gain more control, independence, time flexibility and to be able to earn in proportion to their real contribution.
Contact the Franchising USA Expert George’s Hotline 703-424-2980.