Ensuring success in the international market demands the most thorough preparation. Justin Livingston shows you how to get it right first time
Considering the globe as your target market? A focus on international expansion can open your concept to meteoric growth and the amazing adventure of exploring new markets, cultures, and adapting your brand for different audiences. The idea of taking a brand to a global audience of potential franchisees is exciting; are you ready?
It takes careful consideration to decide whether your brand is ready to become a global concept. Take a serious look at your level of preparedness for the task. Below, you will see some of the key factors that may mean you are ready to take the leap across borders.
We have considered Global expansion from many angles and we are expanding internationally for the right reasons.
Your “why” is important. Intentional international expansion is key to success. You may be ready to expand across borders if you are seeking access to the massive world-wide consumer market, long-term diversification of revenues, strengthening the brand, lessening the impact of a specific market’s economic fluctuations, and for many more reasons. These reasons can set you up for long term growth and success opposed to a “why not?” or reactive approach to expansion.
We have done our due diligence and understand the resources it takes for international expansion and we are ready.
Having “enough” resources is probably the most important factor for international franchise expansion. Understanding that it takes a team dedicated to that task and complete buy-in from upper management/ownership is critical. Also, having a dedicated budget for expansion is key. You will need resources to develop the international program, find the potential franchisees, and then execute your first openings abroad. Expansion at this level cannot simply be done by adding work to your current domestic team. Franchisees in different countries, different cultures, and different time zones use up a lot of resources, both time and money. Be sure you have set aside the capital for expansion and have assembled at least the start of your international team to take on the tasks of expansion without having a negative impact on your core domestic business.
We understand what it takes to protect a brand.
Your brand and your marks are your most valuable possessions. If you have a plan to protect your brand, you may be ready for expansion abroad. Protection is complicated but can be summed up in two categories, legal protection and the enforcing of the brand protection.
First, the legality of protecting your marks in other countries simply boils down to having the appropriate legal counsel both at home and abroad. Understand the laws of the new market and ensure you have the protections to keep others from copying your branding and damaging the integrity of your concept in the market.
Protecting your brand through legal channels and agreements is only as strong as your ability and willingness to enforce the protection. You must be willing to be vigilant and aware of what may be happening with your brand inside a market both with your franchisees and other parties who may be infringing on your marks. When entering a new market with a successful concept, you will likely encounter copycats and you must be willing to do whatever it takes (including resources) to keep your brand identity intact. By granting an international franchise agreement, you are allowing your brand to be represented in a market you don’t fully understand in a location you will likely visit far less than you do to monitor your locations domestically. Awareness of this fact and a plan to maintain the brand are key to expansion.
We have decided what franchise model is right for us.
Once you have the operational systems in place, execution depends on finding the correct franchise partner and system of franchising that’s right for your brand. You must decide what path of business relationship is right for you. Are you seeking a joint venture partner? A multi-unit regional franchisee? A master franchisee? Will you allow your franchisee a master agreement with the rights to sub-franchise? Each of these programs carry different styles of business relationship and have different legal ramifications. It comes back to protecting your brand and deciding how much freedom you will give your partners in different markets. You will also want to consult local legal counsel to determine the franchise laws of the country/countries that you are targeting.
We have a system and know how to find the right franchisees in new markets.
Having a development process to correctly market and thoroughly vet franchise candidates is critical to finding the correct franchise partner. As you begin international expansion, your first international franchisees will be the proof of concept that will set you up for future, long-term growth into other markets. Before you can get to training, processes, contracts, and ongoing oversight of your brand, you must find the right potential franchisees. Having the most sellable, attractive, opportunity-rich franchise system is only relevant if you can find an audience to tell your brand story to. Having a strategy to find potential franchisees will make your dream of becoming a Global Franchisor a reality. Will you advertise in print medias?
If so, what publications? Will you attend franchise trades hows? If so, which ones in which markets? Will you advertise on franchise websites? If so, which ones? Will you use international franchise brokers? If so, who and how will you find them? These tasks and more are necessary to start your journey abroad. Each of these avenues has a cost of both time and money associated with them which needs to be part of your initial budget for expansion.
We understand that we may have to have to localize our brand for every new market and we know what we are willing to translate.
Understanding the cultural differences of each market and how your brand will translate into that market is key to success. Will the local culture embrace your brand? Do your points of differentiation mean the same thing in this new market? Do common practices of your brand violate any cultural norms of the potential market? Finding the ideal candidate is critical to success but ensuring you are entering a market that will embrace your brand is the difference between a successful launch into a new country and a very costly and very public failure. Making assumptions that your brand can enter any market without sensitivity to local needs will set up your brand for certain failure. This knowledge is vital to prioritize which markets to target and where to begin the search for the right franchisee.
I am ready!
International expansion is an exciting adventure. When executed intentionally and with purpose, it allows for long-term success and brand expansion. International expansion is complicated and international growth consumes a lot of time and money, but the rewards are unrivaled. If you have thought through the points above and deem your brand ready, congratulations, you are in for an amazing ride!
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