Are you changing your business for the better?

As we settle into the routine of a new year, what will change in your business? How will the franchising market evolve? What’s new on the horizon? Here are four personal viewpoints.

Corina Vucic , FC Business Solutions

Shaking up why your support team exists and the value they actually provide to the franchisees maybe on the menu. When did you last peel back and look into what each team member delivers to the success of the franchisees? Is the support office constrained by its evolution in red tape, processes and procedures which are not relevant and people being busy doing nothing?

When did the support team last visit a franchise outlet to view their perspective on how we might benefit from doing things differently?

Is the communication published to the franchise group, relevant, informative and concise? Are we over communicating with too many words, too many forms of communication and franchisees are just ignoring all correspondence because it’s too complicated.

Step back, health check the franchisor business and get out of your comfort zones.

Karli Furmage, trainer, coach and writer

We have seen franchisors focus more on profitability and consolidating their networks. I hope these trends continue. I also hope as a sector, we continue to work on pre-entry education for franchisees and support new franchisees investigating our sector to make informed choices.

I encourage franchisors to keep developing or start investigating e-learning options. Connecting directly with the front line, flexible delivery, cost effective, uptake… are all compelling reasons to explore online learning options. Franchisors that I am working with now are three clicks ahead, improving the quality of learning and training offered online for their franchisees, their staff … and the franchisor’s team too! The results speak for themselves.

Trina McColl, Ignite PR

PR is an integral part of the communication mix now and encompasses more than just getting brands mentioned in newspapers or magazines. There needs to be a new mindset of what communication involves.

Rather than operate separate divisions, franchises need to create communications marketing departments integrating the key elements such as corporate communications, PR, marketing, social media, cause marketing, community engagement and digital marketing. This team needs to be in touch with the business from the boardroom down to maximise opportunities.

Learning to better integrate the disciplines will be the biggest opportunity for franchises in 2015. Content is king and the brands willing to invest in developing relevant information and news opportunities that consumers engage with will win the race for new customers and retaining loyalty. The aim is to become a ‘living brand’ one that inspires and excites people to share it because it matters to their everyday life.

Corinne Attard, Holman Webb Lawyers

I am seeing more new businesses looking to franchise in the last year and I am sure this is increasing in 2015.  A lot of these have a health or wellbeing aspect and quite a few are founded by women.  Women are more likely to start their own businesses and I would encourage them to look at franchising as a way of expanding their reach, assuming they have a viable business model.

In the food arena, with Australians now more educated on nutrient values and retailers and manufacturers required to provide more information to consumers  by law, we have seen an increased demand for products which meet higher standards or match popular views on what is healthy.

Accordingly QSRs and fast casual restaurants (many of which are franchised)  are faced with a more demanding customer base wanting better quality as well as healthy options so while there is a place for the cheap pizza and burger chains even these are feeling the demand for a higher end product offering.

With new demands for more labelling on menus and products especially in those states such as Queensland which have not enacted the kilojoule labelling laws I can only see this trend continuing. Food businesses which don’t adequately address how they address customer concerns in these areas might be left behind.

A trend I would really love to see being embraced more in Australia is the application of the principles of franchising for social benefit, that is, social franchising.  Franchising is being used with great success in developing countries to expand services such as midwives and small pharmacies and other social enterprises.  It is also being promoted in the UK and other parts of Europe to expand various social services.

The IFA (the American version of the FCA) has also recently got behind the social franchising idea. Unfortunately in Australia we are lagging in this both in its application in Australia and in how we can support the use of franchising in other countries.