There are seven things to consider before embarking on your expansion path:
1. Assess yourself.
As a franchisee, be honest in your personal assessment to determine whether you can stomach delegating important duties to managers. At two stores you can keep your finger on the pulse, but by five stores, you’re watching from afar.
The talents and skills that allowed you to be successful with two stores are not the same as those required to be successful with more.
2. Have patience.
Expanding to multiple stores often means things will get worse before they get better, and you must understand that expansion is for the long-term: You’re likely to take one step back financially and in terms of time, before you take three steps forward in the following three years.
3. Assess your franchisor.
Seek out a franchisor that understands and supports multi-unit owners. Do they offer discounts when buying multiple units? Do their POS systems support multi-unit owners?
And where typically fees are set up for single-unit owners, will the franchisor charge you the same for three as for one unit? Importantly, look for additional training for your staff. Sometimes the franchisor limits training to one or two people. Can they accommodate training for all your units?
4. Finding support.
If your franchisor doesn’t cater for multi-unit operators, can you find a support group of other multi-unit owners to get advice and ideas? Mentorship and networks go a long way, so look for top-performing locations in the system, foster a relationship with them and apply their successes to your own business.
5. Effective communication.
Multi-unit owners need to communicate their needs to the franchisor, ask for special treatment, partner with the corporate team, and work in a collaborative way. While you should advocate for yourself, you have to do so in the right and respectful way.
6. Build a strong team.
Delegating can be the most important — and the hardest — aspect of multi-unit ownership. This means building strong teams within each unit and establishing an effective layer of management to handle overarching operations. Your number one priority in expanding should be recruiting top talent.
Even if you don’t have a current opportunity, keep a pipeline of talent. You’ll also need to expand your support staff, including an operations manager, area manager, a bookkeeper, marketing and admin support.
7. Don’t expand too quickly.
What’s the point of operating four mediocre units that make only as much money as two outstanding ones? Multi-unit businesses need to operate at a high level. This means perfecting each unit before moving on to the next.