Franchise on the brink? Top tips to fight back

CONGRATULATIONS, you bought a franchise. Now, in theory at least, you have the resources to compete with big business.

CONGRATULATIONS, you bought a franchise. Now, in theory at least, you have the resources to compete with big business.

But suppose that your commercial marriage does not run to plan. Suppose you flounder and begin regretting investing in the $130 billion industry. Don't get stressed: here are 10 top fighting tips.

Seek top-tier support. If you're worried that your franchise is failing, enlist in-house oversight, says business coach and franchising expert Tracey Leak. Franchisers and head office teams honestly want to help their franchisees succeed but may well fail to see that you are struggling, she says.

Cool it. You can't make a logical decision when your emotions are running high, says Leak. To turn your franchise around, you need to step back and weigh it up coolly. Your franchiser or a business coach may help.

Soul searching. Ask yourself some tough questions about why your franchise is failing. A key challenge is the tendency to believe your franchise offers "a ticket to success".

It's true, Leak says, that a franchise will fast-track your ability to run your business because of its supportive structure.

But the chief barriers to success are often the actions conducted by you: the franchisee. "Are you following the system or have you started your own version of the system?" Leak says.

Pinpoint particular weak points. Sometimes it seems that everything about your business is wrong, Leak says. Stop and analyse. You might only need to tackle one or two problems.

Perhaps you have plenty of leads but are not sinking sales. Or you have the wrong employees and it is time to train them up or hire new staff. Or maybe it is you who needs training.

Reread the manual. Go back to basics, recommends franchising strategist Brian Keen.

Run through your franchising training. Leaf through your operations-and-procedures handbook. Also check that your team is sticking to its script.

Smarten up your act. Ensure everyone is in uniform, Keen says. Everyone should look smart, be courteous and follow up leads.

But when franchisees get desperate, Keen warns, they do the hard sell, making customers suspicious.

Look local. Many franchisees neglect local marketing. So make an effort to bump up neighbourhood trade. Keen suggests seeking promotion in newspapers and on radio. Also, hand out flyers and free samples outside your shop.

Get webby. According to Keen, 80 per cent of businesses are still not internet-savvy, which means they are missing lots of inquiries. So, without busting the budget, get a website rigged up as soon as possible.

Fix every blemish. Take a thorough, multi-step approach to fixing your franchise. "It's not one thing: you've got to do lots and lots and lots of little things," Keen suggests.

"It may be flags outside the shop. It may be a couple of splashes on the windows. It may be A-frames - it can be all manner of things."

Stay hungry. Too many franchise owners fall into the trap of "cruising". At all costs, avoid becoming complacent.

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