How Franchises Can Innovate

Javi Fondevila

If you ask any franchisor what they are looking for in the perfect franchisee, I would be willing to put money on the answer being something along the lines of somebody who follows an existing system which has been proven to work and can demonstrate good project management. Even if it is not the main answer given, it is likely to still form part of it.

And, why not? It’s logical. A successful franchise is successful because they have long since created and stuck to a process which works—the core of any franchise’s success is a system which has been meticulously created, tried, tested, perfected and then duplicated.

It doesn’t always have to be this way, though.

What happens if a franchisee has an idea for a new product or a new and more efficient system? In the franchise ecosystem, it can often seem like there’s no room for innovation. This is not the case; “Innovation” and “franchisee” go together well, they are not oxymorons.

Having Your Voice Heard

Whilst franchising to an extent does discourage innovation on part of the franchisee, it is not impossible. Yes, the consistency associated with having processes in place does create a well-known, comfortable and positive experience for customers as a tried and tested business model.

At the same time, however, most franchisees have good ideas, and franchisors are often keen to hear about them.

If you are a franchisee who is dreaming of putting his or her own stamp on the business as a whole, there are several ways that you can improve your chances of success.

It’s All About Good Project Management

If you can prove yourself as a competent franchisee who properly follows the core values of the franchise with good project management, you stand a higher chance of being taken seriously when you approach those in charge.

First off, take a look at your franchise agreement. You may just find that it gives you a degree of leeway with regard to implementing new ideas. Before doing this, though, make sure that you have got your franchisor’s existing business model nailed down as this will give you far more credibility and substance. A successful franchisee will find it easier to negotiate than one who is struggling.

If you feel confident and that you are ready to go ahead with your big idea, it is important that you contact your franchisor. It doesn’t matter whether or not going ahead without consultation would violate your franchise agreement, it’s never a bad idea to run it past the people who are in charge. You never know, your franchisor could have tried the same or a similar idea out in the past and had zero luck—this can prevent you from hitting a brick wall.

Prior to taking this step and reaching out to your franchisor, make sure that you have done your homework, especially if you are proposing something that could have an impact on all the other franchisees. Execute proper project management, write up a business plan and get ready to make a pitch, just like you would if you were a start-up entrepreneur looking for investment.

Accept That it May Not Happen

Despite being a stellar franchisee with amazing project management skills and a fresh idea, things may not always go the way you want them to. Franchisees must accept that there’s an inherent franchisor/franchisee hierarchy and that their ideas may be tossed aside.

Even if a franchisor goes ahead with a good idea, you must be willing to compromise on some of the finer details and accept that even if their idea is implemented in the end, it may have been heavily shaken up and not reflect what you had in mind initially.

After all, your idea needs to meet the franchise’s overall goals. These will always take precedence over you as a franchisee and it is something which you need to accept as the reality of operating as a franchisee rather than running your own business.

Franchises work well because they operate strictly to a business model which has been carefully created, tried and tested. Without this business model, franchises simply would fail to operate efficiently, and the entire franchise model would fall apart.

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