Choosing the right franchise to invest in can be an incredibly personal decision. As a franchisee, you are investing your time and money in a brand.
Therefore, you need to not only believe in what that brand stands for, but the values that the franchisor and your fellow franchisees embrace. If you aren’t all on the same page, the relationship can quickly sour — and you can end up losing money because you don’t want to see the investment through.
It’s vital to do your research. Understand the brand’s history, the franchisor’s approach to franchising and what will be expected from you as a franchisee. You are joining someone else’s brand vision, and you need to make sure that you can work within their systems and guidelines.
One of the biggest benefits of a franchise is the established brand and proven system, but this alone will not make you a happy franchisee. You have to embrace the concept in its entirety, as you will be working closely with the franchisor, particularly in the beginning.
The real value of quality
“When we started formalising the Wiesenhof brand so that we could franchise it, we began to develop systems and processes that could be replicated across the group,” says Wiesenhof Coffees founder and franchisor, Kobus Wiese.
“We based these on a number of nonnegotiables,” he continues. “The first of these was quality. Our first store was a great learning ground for us, and we knew where we could save money and where we absolutely could not skimp. Quality is an absolute must, and this became the cornerstone of our brand values.”
As a result, Wiesenhof expects its franchisees to offer generous portions and never cut costs when purchasing the best ingredients. “Wiesenhof’s clientele are willing to pay more for decent portions of quality food,” says Wiese.
“If we start eroding the value of our offering – even at a lower price – we won’t be delivering to customer expectations.”
Caring about the brand
The next precept was owner/operators, an imperative as far as the franchisor is concerned. “I’m a firm believer that owner/operators will always ensure that the best standards are maintained in every store,” he says.
“Owner/operators have more to gain from a successful store,” he continues, adding that he himself learnt this lesson the hard way. “By the time the sixth franchise had opened, I realised that given my shifting role from owner/ operator to franchisor, my personal stores needed to be sold. They were already suffering from the fact that my attention was not fully on them, and customer service was slipping.”
Wiese maintains that managers don’t care about the business – from the brand to the customers – in the same way that owners do, and he insists that owners are actively involved.
“We care about the brand from a franchise perspective, but also for our franchisees. As long as standards are maintained, they have invested in a strong brand,” says Wiese.
As a franchisor, he encourages openness and honesty. “Our open discussions allow everyone to be on the same page. Franchisors shouldn’t just tell their franchisees what’s happening — they are also the brand’s custodians. We discuss what’s best for the brand and we keep an open mind. However, issues that affect the brand’s quality are non-negotiables. It’s important for our franchisees to understand and embrace this.”
Wiese is a firm believer that brand beats ego, every time, whether you’re a franchisor or franchisee. “We make decisions based on what’s best for the brand, the business and the customers — not our egos. For this reason, we need everyone involved in the brand to embrace the overall brand values that we stand for. As long as we are all on the same page, we’re all working towards the same goal.”