Just because a brand prospers in one country, doesn’t mean that success abroad will be a given. However, your chances will be higher if you implement these six tips.
Success is a tricky word. It means different things to different people. The levels vary greatly and the ladder to hitting success depends on the company’s goals and vision. The good news is that there are several key components to success that any business in any industry can use and recognize, even when transitioning a successfully franchised brand to an entirely new country or region of the world.
1. Strategically plan entry
Strategic planning is a key component of any successful business model and one that goes hand-in-hand with consulting and coaching, as those resources are generally the tools that will help solidify the concrete details of a strategic plan. This type of planning taps into the very core of a business. Clarifying the vision of the business is the first step. Just as a runner needs to have a good grasp of the path to take to reach the finish line, goals cannot be established and pursued until the vision is clear.
Once vision is established, all viable data needs to be gathered, organized, and analyzed. This will enable the company leaders to formulate a strategy to implement moving forward. It is important to note that strategic planning does not end with implementation. Consistent evaluation is necessary to maintain the ability to withstand the ebbs and flows even the most stable markets will face.
2. Analyze the competition
Before transitioning into any new market, it is imperative that the competition be properly analyzed, regardless of the size of your franchise in your current market. The biggest mistake you could make is evaluating and then disregarding competitors. Remember that these competitors have found some sort of success and stability in that market already. Learn from them. Figure out what they are doing right, how they are relating to their customer base, and how those measures can be integrated into your current model. Conversely, try to discover what they are doing wrong or inefficiently and perfect it in your model.
Analyzing the competition will enable you to find and fill service or product gaps in your market and it is easier to accomplish than in years past due to the rise in social media and other online sharing platforms. Competitor service offerings and the level of consumer satisfaction can be compiled through internet searches and from any number of reputable platforms and used to evaluate weakness in the market that your business could then fill.
3. Utilize valuable consulting, legal, and coaching resources
Utilizing consulting, legal and coaching resources from experienced and reliable professionals is an incredible asset, especially during a transition into a new market. A good consultant, lawyer, and business coach can help target specific goals, evaluate performance, and offer tools for learning and development that will improve the overall health of the organization. All of these resources are incredible tools to increase business performance and productivity and, ultimately, increase revenue.
Established consultants, lawyers and coaches are typically resident experts in their field and can help you navigate the potentially murky waters of franchising in a new international market. Bringing in outside resources is not a sign of weakness or lack of ability or industry knowledge. Rather, it is the contrary. The most successful business professionals understand that their biggest asset is the knowledge and experience they surround themselves with. Their “brain trust,” as some call it. The age-old saying, “You don’t know what you don’t know” still holds true today. There is value in finding the right franchise consultants and business coaches, the real challenge comes when you have to decide if you are going to listen and utilize their recommendations.
4. Local agencies and government
As with any expansion into unknown territories and regions it is important to connect with the local governments and agencies which help with these types of expansions. Check with your home country to see if they have an embassy or international delegate to help with the transition. There are many resources available for you to use in helping you get acquainted more quickly with the local community. These agencies and programs are often times setup to help support you with these types of efforts. They will help you comply with local laws and requirements for operating and may even be able to connect you with local suppliers and vendors.
5. Customize local marketing plans
Marketing, like any other major component used for business growth, should be strategically planned and implemented with an end goal in mind. There are several key components to building a marketing plan. Analysis is needed to determine target markets and which platforms would be best suited for reach and engagement. Clear and defined objectives, along with source and advertising strategies will help determine optimal avenues for the pre-established target market. Following implementation, on-going evaluation of strategies is necessary so that adjustments can be made as needed. When it comes to marketing, a best practice is to plan ahead, as opposed to being reactionary to items that may come up unexpectedly. Many industries also institute pre-planned emergency management procedures to mitigate potential areas of risk. This allows the business to maintain a modicum of control should potentially negative issues arise in the public arena.
Even something as simple as creating brand awareness requires forethought. Buying random ad space may give short spurts of increase in sales, but every business needs to establish and maintain high quality and consistent messaging. This is what will promote on-going, long-term success and reduce the risk of blowback for low quality or hastily done advertising placements. In this new social world of oversharing, potential customers consistently self-advertise their wants and needs without the slightest hesitation. Utilize that information and include it in your marketing plan.
6. Keep a close eye on financials
Keeping your financials in order and reviewing losses and gains more frequently than you normally would will give you a solid idea of market trends in the area and where adjustments need to be made. Transitions can be challenging and costly, so keeping a firm hand on expenditures will better enable your model to survive the move and work towards thriving in the new economy your brand has expanded into.
Financial stability is a balancing act that takes time. Simply choosing not to spend is never an option, especially when entering a new market. The key is understanding; being selective about where each dollar goes and understanding the rate and potential for return. Instead of telling staff not to purchase the gel pens because they run a little higher, institute reliable measurements for performance evaluation to ensure that each staff member has the tools they need to work at their highest level, with their favorite gel pen if necessary.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tom DuFore has been helping owners multiply their success through franchising since 2003. He is the CEO of Big Sky Franchise Team and is a franchise consulting expert having served in multiple capacities as a franchise consultant, franchisee, and franchisor since 2003.
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