Change on the Horizon
Subway stalwart sees three trends changing the multi-unit franchising landscape
Just like any business, the franchising business is one that I have seen evolve tremendously over the past 30 years. While many of the cornerstones and crucial elements - product, simplicity, control, and support - remain the same, so much is changing.
Today there are at least three key areas that are altering the face of franchising. First, business is moving at lightning speed with the emergence of social media outlets, texting, and mobile Internet access. Second, the economy, while challenging, is providing a number of different opportunities for many. And third, an enhanced concern for our health and environment has created a niche and need for "green" and organic products.
Internet & Immediate Access
The Internet is more mobile than ever, opening a whole new world to how we do business. Research on a franchise concept, or competitors, can be done instantaneously on a street corner or at a café. Proposals can be transmitted in an instant. In some instances video conferencing has taken over the need for traditional face-to-face meetings. Communicating with several multi-unit managers can be done with a simple e-mail blast. Marketing and support to franchise teams is now more speedy and efficient. What's more, we no longer need to wait several months for decisions to be made because information is instantaneous.
The growth of social media has changed the landscape of how multi-unit franchisees market their businesses. As a "dinosaur," I cannot necessarily tell you HOW to do it. But I will say if you are not involved with social media marketing, you need to be. This technology is a paradigm shifter. Social media marketing has become a fulltime role and many companies delegate management responsibilities to fulltime employees Many public relations and marketing agencies can handle this task for you and are usually on the cutting-edge of the newest outlets and most creative strategies.
Creativity and out-of-the-box thinking via social media is equally as important as more and more competitors enter the market and the social media mix.
The economy has ruled the airwaves over the past two years. But there is more opportunity in today's economy for multi-unit franchise growth than ever before. While it may be more difficult to get loans through traditional means, there are programs through the Small Business Administration, grants, and investors out there to help budding entrepreneurs succeed and grow their systems.
There's one more silver lining to emerge from the recent economic struggles. With so much commercial real estate available, now is also the time to take advantage of discounted lease space in prime locations.
Green Equals Green
Where there's a demand for a product, there is a need. As more people become educated about things like pesticides and their effects on our health, the greater the need will be for organic products and anything "green." We are already there. Going "green" is more than a passing trend. It has become a way of life that translates into multi-unit franchise business opportunities with companies such as Pizza Fusion, whose entire business model is built around being "green." Watch for emerging and growing franchise companies that fit into the "green" space. You could just uncover not only a new addition to your business portfolio but a chance to increase your impact on the planet.
Larry Feldman - Feldman started with Subway in 1977 when he was an assistant minority counsel to the House Banking Committee. Through the encouragement of college mate Fred Deluca, founder of Subway, Larry left his calling as an attorney to pursue the sandwich business, opening his first location across from the U.S. Capitol, on First Street SE. He later acquired exclusive Subway rights to the Mid-Atlantic territory through his company, Subway Development Corporation, which is responsible for developing and supporting franchises in his area. To date, Larry's sandwich empire touts over 1,100 locations and growing. He's now working as a development agent with Pizza Fusion, the country's leading organic and eco-conscious restaurant franchise, and The Original Brooklyn Water Bagel, owner of a patented water technology that recreates Brooklyn water, allowing its franchises to produce a distinctive Brooklyn bagel anywhere in the world.
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