‘Global’ might be a bit ambitious at this stage but even the first few steps into ‘international’ need to be taken with caution.
In many ways it can be argued that international franchising is similar to growing a domestic network. The offer package has to be defined; the franchisee profile has to be established; candidates have to be attracted and recruited; successful ones have to be inducted, trained and managed.
If the business in question franchises in its home market then it will be familiar with all of the above; if it doesn’t franchise at home then it will also have to learn and acquire the skills of franchising.
Complications arise in both cases when it comes to dealing with different cultures and communicating with people for whom English is their second language.
The easiest and most cost-effective way to be ready is to engage with experienced consultants with global contacts who can help with the development of the plan and its implementation when it comes to finding franchisees
The opportunities are immense but think carefully if the trigger has been an approach from an unknown person in another country. That’s not a reason to start doing it but it is a reason to start thinking about it.
The next step is to get as much advice as possible from people who have been there and done it, preferably across many business sectors and in many different markets.
One of the fundamental truths of international franchising is that will take a lot longer and cost a lot more than anyone thinks. The more experienced input that goes into the preparation of the business plan and budget the better. It doesn’t matter how long it will take or what it will cost provided the necessary investment of human and financial resources is available and it will provide an acceptable return.
For me the first thing to find out is why the client wants to do it. Is it a whim or an ego-trip; is it because all their competitors are doing it; is it because they think it’s a route to overnight riches; or is it part of a considered strategy to grow a business which is nearing capacity at home? I prefer the latter.
Another fundamental truth is that every other country will do something differently to the way it’s done in the home market. In the care business this will especially involve all sorts of legal and regulatory issues, not to mention the cultural differences that affect how the elderly are looked after within their families.
The list of target countries will need to be refined to minimise any big changes so ‘being ready’ will involve a great deal of research. All of that research will evolve into the business plan to which the stakeholders then have to be totally committed. Part of that commitment involves putting someone in charge of that plan, providing them with the resources to see it through, and letting them get on with it.
There have been many examples of someone being ‘called back’ from international duties to ‘put out fires’ at home which have resulted in the whole international opportunity being wasted.
The easiest and most cost-effective way to be ready is to engage with experienced consultants with global contacts who can help with the development of the plan and its implementation when it comes to finding franchisees.
However, after that, the ongoing relationship between the franchisor and the franchisees in other countries must be managed internally, especially as the best care business have many unique skills and processes which must be effectively transferred.
That means being ready also involves having a team of trainers and support staff who can be released from domestic duties to provide services in other countries.
Gone are the days, long ago, when international franchising was about finding someone far away, with more money than sense, who would pay a big upfront fee but hopefully never have to be seen again.
Today, international franchising offers great opportunities for building global brands - provided it is done properly. Being ready involves having a the right Vision; knowing what ‘properly’ means; and being prepared to stick to those principles.
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