The most beautiful thing in business is creating something from nothing in my humble opinion. There is something incredible about that man or woman who stands in the middle of an empty room and creates a business. And what underpins the success of most strong franchise systems is the “something from nothing” aspect forged by the founders.
Founders with Visions
In 1965, Fred DeLuca set out to fulfill his dream of becoming a medical doctor. Searching for a way to help pay for his education, a family friend suggested he open a submarine sandwich shop. With a loan of $1,000, the friend—Dr. Peter Buck the business was born – which later became Subway. Where most just see a part-time job, a way-station en-route to a dream, he saw an opportunity that led to the world’s largest submarine sandwich chain with more than 44,000 locations around the world. The company started with just 16 corporate locations throughout Connecticut. When they turned to franchising, they began a period of remarkable growth that made history.
When I worked at successful document destruction franchise, Shred-it it actually began as an MBA project by founder Greg Brophy. It started growth in Canada, then expanded to Los Angeles then across the US and around the world through franchised and corporate locations. At his 40th birthday party, I remember saying to Greg, “how amazing that this all started with you driving the truck yourself, and now you have over 1,000 trucks around the world!” He laughed and said “now I am going to cry” with a smile. Shred-it, later sold to Stericycle and is still a leader in the industry.
Franchisees with Visions
In 1963, long-time Michigan A&W franchise owner Dale Mulder saw his repeat customers were always requesting slabs of bacon on top of their cheeseburgers and put it on his restaurant’s menu. This was the beginning of the bacon cheeseburgers a favorite among burger lovers worldwide!
Ronald McDonald, a symbol for children which is recognized second only to Santa Clause was an advertising initiative for a group of Washington DC McDonalds franchisees at the time.
Finding the Balance for Franchise Coaching
As a home office franchise coach, a big part of the job is a balancing act between the franchisor and the frachisees. Ultimately, the franchisor and the franchisee can act in a symbiotic relationship. One feeds into the other. At its best, this is better than a corporate situation, because innovations grow and thrive. At its worst, the process can be cumbersome and full of conflict.
As shown here, in an “ideal world”, franchisors bring the following to the table:
- Specialists: whether it be in IT, marketing, training, food and more
- Network effect: the uniqueness of a franchisor is that you get a “bird’s eye view” on what is working and what is not in various parts of the system – especially if they are taking advantage of the franchising’s most up-to-date performance tools. This network effect means that many is much stronger than one.
Franchisees, for their part, bring the following:
- Local Conditions: They are the closest to their community and their cash register.
- New Trends: They may see trends emerging that may benefit the rest of the network. If you want to learn about what is new and exciting, talk to your franchisees in California!
Based on my experience in the 10 years in franchising, I understand the temptation to push away feedback in order to move a project forward. However, for the best projects, it is a balancing act, and if done correctly, it is one done with grace, originality and “awesomeness”.
In the next few posts, we are going top put these ideas into action.
First, we will look at franchisee surveys. Second, we will look at franchise committees run the right way. Join us on this exploration!
Stefania is the Sr. Marketing Director at FranchiseBlast. She comes from 20 years in the Marketing world, 10 of them in progressively Sr. positions in Marketing – most recently as the Director of Marketing and IT Development at Tutor Doctor. During the course of her career she has worked with companies like Microsoft, 3M, Shred-it and the Intercontinental Hotel. While at Shred-it, Stefania was recognized by Google as operating a best practice in managing a franchise PPC campaign and her website at Tutor Doctor won an “Outstanding Achievement in Internet Advertising” award by the Web Marketing Association in 2016.
Stefania has taken part in several speaking engagements across North America about entrepreneurship, franchising, marketing and technology and has volunteered for numerous organizations helping children, artists and educational institutions; she is a volunteer with Futurepreneur as a mentor, and does a number of community initiatives. She was also the past Communications Chair of the Queen’s Alumni Association of Toronto. She holds an MBA from Queen’s University and a Bachelor of Commerce from Carleton University. She lives in Vaughan, Ontario with her husband, Matthew and two children, AJ and Violet.