If you're considering purchasing a franchise, you're probably already aware of the many benefits involved in owning and operating a franchised business. For instance, franchises provide instant recognition, even for those who aren't familiar with your community, making it possible for you to draw from travelers as well as local residents. Franchises also offer guidance that's unavailable to those on other entrepreneurial paths, such as initial training and ongoing support throughout the entire process. In fact, those who opt to become involved in a franchise enjoy a greater chance of success than their counterparts who opted for a sole-proprietorship business model. Nonetheless, some worry that by owning a franchise, they will sacrifice the opportunity to leave a personal mark on their business. Fortunately, several strategies exist to allow franchise holders to personalize their franchises. Following are four of them.
Incorporate Local Flavor
Not everything in your franchised business is required to follow a rigid set of rules. For instance, if you decide to partner yourself with a franchise that specializes in ice cream, you'll certain have to sell ice cream, but you can also feature flavors specific to the culinary landscape in your geographical area. For instance, if you live in a region that's well known for it's wonderful raspberries, you can opt to offer ice cream and milkshakes made from locally sourced berries.
Be Active in Your Community
By joining your local Chamber of Commerce and become an active presence in its meetings, you'll put a local face to your franchised business. Consider sponsoring a sports team or becoming involved in street beautification projects in your community. Other ideas are to join your local neighborhood watch, sponsor a scholarship for a local student, offer wall space to local artists, and to partner with a local charity. Opportunities for playing an active role in civic events are abundant in most areas, and the more visible you are in the business community, the more your business will feel like a local enterprise rather than just another franchise.
Use Social Media
Social media offers another effective way to personalize your franchise by connecting with your community. Create an active social media presence by posting specials on a daily basis and encouraging interactive commentary. You can also run periodic contests from your social media page. If you own a restaurant, for instance, you can significantly increase its exposure in your local community by including the names of those who have 'liked' your business page on Facebook in a raffle where the prize is a free dessert or other menu item. Also, make sure your contact information and the location of your business are clearly visible on all of the social media platforms that you choose to use. It's also important that you update your social media on a regular basis—potential customers will wonder if your place is still in business is your social media is stagnant.
Treat Your Employees Well
Few things will make your franchise seem like an outsider in your community faster than a reputation for treating employees badly. Keep in mind that every time situations with employees go south—whether you fire them or they quit in anger—you can probably cross their immediate family and many of their friends off your list of customers. This doesn't mean that it's necessary to allow employees to walk all over you—it means cultivating the management skills necessary to be a good boss. Creating clear expectations from the point of hire, crafting coherent job descriptions, and nurturing a general air of respect among everyone involved will go a long way toward minimizing the type of friction and disagreements that result in hostile situations between management and staff.