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What It Means to Franchise

Our restaurant consultants offer thoughts on when, why, and how to franchise

By Sarah Ann Noel - July 14, 2017

Does your city have a Pie Hole pizza joint? There's one in Denver, but it's not the same spot featured in the photo of Restaurant Hospitality's feature on franchising. The RH feature interviews Lindsay Heffner, owner of Pie Hole in Los Angeles, which has since franchised since it's original opening.

As the article goes on to explain, franchising Pie Hole was a big undertaking, with a lot of unforeseen time commitments and not a lot of return; but it also took the small brand in its earliest stages, and propelled it both into the international market and new concepts. There are now holdings in New York, Qatar, and Dubai.

With an opening like this Cinderella story, franchising, at any stage in the game, might seem to make the most business sense. So we asked one of our senior advisors, Richard Weil, to offer some advice on whether or not to franchise.

"Franchising requires a dedication and commitment to your brand and core competency," Weil says, "And in help your franchisees succeed too." Franchising will absolutely require more work, and to manage the workload, you must have a handle on what you already possess. 

It isn't a cut-and-dry line between success and failure. "Some of the best ideas come from franchisees," Weil continues. "Listen carefully to their input. Often their solutions are based on store experiences that could benefit your systems as a whole." 

The flip side, of course, is that while franchisees can be full of ideas and solutions, there can be an equal number of problems, from the franchisees themselves, as well as from a management standpoint. "You have to be able to say no. You have to maintain the consistency and marketing promises of your brand. Corporate stores and franchise stores must be managed similarly, but separate."

A lot of this is buy-in from the franchisees, Weil explains; so how you build your brand from the start matters most. "Franchisees buy into a system they believe works." But once they do buy-in, you have to make sure they can execute.

"Ultimately, a franchisor must be a great communicator and a great coach. You must be firm, but fair," Weil explains, showcasing how, to franchise, is really more about additional management responsibility than anything else. "The success of both the corporate and franchised stores rests with the franchisor."

If you are considering franchising your establishment, or would like to speak with a restaurant consultant for more information on the topic, contact us today!

Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash