Multi-unit franchisee businesses, regardless of the concept, location, or size, all strive to build value, create longevity, and generate success. Ultimately, with value, longevity and success, the world is your oyster. No matter your short or long term vision, whether it be a high value sale or transfer to a key manager(s) or family.
The multi-unit franchisee business is a highly dynamic environment with endless options for growing your business and reaching the epitome of how you define success. With a variety of established brands and emerging concepts to choose from, opportunities to diversify and strengthen your portfolio, or partner with a franchisor to develop an area, the choices can seem endless for your business. Add the day-to-day fires such as managing cash flow, adjusting to policy changes like the DOL ruling, and staying on top of franchisor requirements, and focusing on the right things versus getting lost in the fray can be a constant struggle.
Achieving sustainable excellence is not only critical to the future of your business, it is sometimes seen as unobtainable. As business owners we say that we cannot get there because of one reason or another. A litany of excuses whether it is due to the economic environment, competition, people, or whatever the reason, we tell ourselves.
Change is the only constant. For this reason, as we work with multi-unit franchisee owners, we take time during strategic planning endeavors to discuss the three key areas of sustainable success highlighted in the book The Discipline of Market Leaders by Fred Wiersema and Michael Treacy. These areas, no matter how long you have been in business, what franchise concepts own, or even what macro environment changes might be at play, are all priority areas for achieving sustainable excellence. If we are truly willing to invest our time and capital in the proper areas, the challenges are reduced, risks minimized, and growth and the sustainability of our businesses are greatly enhanced.
Not to be confused with adapting to the changes that come with the technology revolution, innovation is a key element for business sustainability. As multi-unit franchisee owners, create an environment that empowers creativity in your organization, and provide a forum and pathway to develop and introduce innovative and creative strategies to appeal to customers/clients. Innovation is not just in the form of the coolest new concept, product or service, but it is also in the delivery of the message and how your community is receiving the message. In reality, one of the most important aspects of innovation lies in the ability to provide your customers what they want and how they want it, before they even know they need or want it. Identify opportunities where it makes sense to partner with your franchisor to implement a new idea or find flexibility in their franchise rules. Check out Alex Vaccaro from Connectivity, Inc.'s recent article focused on how to overcome franchise marketing constraints for tips on how to implement your innovative ideas with your franchisor: http://www.franchising.com/articles/overcoming_franchise_marketing_constraints.html
In the midst of the largest technology revolution that our businesses have experienced, this is an area that is no longer optional, it's a requirement for achieving sustainable excellence. Technology has changed the way we communicate and the speed in which we receive and transmit information. This has dramatically impacted buying behavior and the business environment. For example, some of the most productive business time for many of my colleagues is on a plane not a traditional office. Technology is creating more opportunities for work/life blending and different and convenient ways for your customers to interact with your business - Uber Eats, and automation via software and machines in your stores. Thus, if you are identifying how technology plays into your current business, but also, the future business, it could be the one thing that takes you down.
Check out the recent article published by franchising.com "What College Students Expect from Quick-Service Restaurants." Not only does this article provide insight into the college student demographic, it also provides insight into how buying behavior will change as they age, enter the work force, and continue to influence the market.
One of the biggest competitive advantages we have is in our people. Recruiting and retaining the right talent not only helps ensure current business success, but done properly and with strategic vision to the future, you also build your foundation for future leaders of the business. Recruiting and retaining the best and brightest has become one of our biggest business challenges to date. Part of this is due to the competitive environment. Another part is that, we often find excuses for not being able to "find the right people." Whether it is not having the time to devote, or that the hiring market is not producing the right talent, or that maybe you do not believe you need to hire in more experienced people, excuses often get the best of us. Recruiting and retaining is one of the pieces of the puzzle of achieving sustainable excellence that if missing, will absolutely decrease your longevity and success in business.
It is important, that you not just focus on one area at a time, but all three of these. By considering these three areas in your strategic planning process you can also evaluate if your business and leadership team is structured effectively for future growth and in alignment with your vision.
Of course there are a variety of other areas of your business that will help in achieving sustainable excellence, however these three can carry you through the ups, downs, and unknowns of the market. They carry you through the changes. Getting there involves devotion to strategic planning. This does not mean that you develop out your strategic plan and then file it away. This type of planning process requires a continued review and adjustment in order to stay relevant to market demands and changes.
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