By Karen Kelly, Cleanhome Domestic Cleaning,

When I started Cleanhome Domestic Cleaning my aim was to establish a company which would stand out from the competition and offer franchisees something that they couldn’t find elsewhere.

To better understand the industry and how we could differentiate our offering I spent a significant amount of time researching the industry and the competition. My research combined with feedback we’ve received from our franchisees have demonstrated that there are common issues which the franchise industry needs to address.

For example, I recently asked one of our franchisees, who had been looking for a suitable franchise opportunity for over a year, why it took her so long to make a decision about the right franchise for her. She explained that she had investigated the different franchises available, but in many cases felt that the franchisor was more interested in taking her money than in providing support, mentoring or in helping her establish a successful and profitable business. The impression she got was that many of the franchisors were selling a franchise with no business plan or long term ambition for the success of the business as a whole. As a potential franchisee she felt that they needed to demonstrate added value in order to justify their monthly franchise fee.

Leaving your franchisees to their own devices without the back-up of a supportive management team can have serious repercussions for a franchise brand. One of the risks you take with the ‘hands off’ approach is that your franchisees can feel demotivated and unsupported which will have a detrimental effect on how they run their business. If someone is trying to sell products or services to clients, they need to be enthusiastic and positive and it becomes quickly apparent to potential customers if someone is not truly committed to what they are selling.

When I meet with potential franchisees, I find that most of them are ambitious and keen to build a lucrative business with support from those who have ‘been there and done it’. It’s my role therefore to provide them with the training, support and internal resources they need to make their business a success, which ultimately benefits both the franchisee and the franchisor in the long term.

The most successful franchises are the ones in which clients can be assured of receiving the same service at any branch, so franchisors need to work with their franchisees to ensure that their clients are receiving the highest levels of service, whether they’re based in London or Bristol. By offering ongoing training and support we can be assured that clients across the country receive the same high levels of service and that our franchisees feel like valued members of our team.

In addition, while I am a franchisor, I also run my own franchise which gives me the benefit of being able to identify with franchisees about the issues and challenges they face. I am in the same position as them and dealing with the same issues they are which means I am able to support my franchisees from personal experience. Being ‘on the ground’ means that I can identify with their day to day challenges and help them to find ways to overcome them. It also reassures the franchisees that that I have an additional, and very visible, investment in developing the business and ensuring that it is prepared for continued success into the future.

Another issue that is affecting the franchise industry is the lack of attention to how technology can benefit franchisees. Franchises – particularly those which have been running for some time – need to realise the importance of implementing technology which will benefit both their franchisees and their clients.

It’s increasingly common for would-be franchisees to look more closely at the technology included in the franchise package as they recognise that this is a vital part of running any business.

Implementing up to date technology is essential and shows that there is reliable infrastructure to support the franchisees. At Cleanhome we are very focused on helping our franchisees take advantage of new technology, but we needed something which was specifically designed for them. With that in mind, we invested in developing our own internet based system GENESYS™ which has been created to make the franchises run smoothly and efficiently and to make the franchisees feel comfortable that operations are organised and backed up.

Importantly, the technology has to enable business growth and not just manage the existing business. In other words it needs to be able to easily accommodate taking on franchise office staff (possibly working remotely) in a manner that allows the whole franchise business to work together and provide an integrated and consistent experience for the client.

Sadly, too many franchisors have been slow to recognise the importance of technology which leaves them and their franchisees lagging behind the competition.

For a franchise to be truly successful franchisors must develop a long-term strategy for success focusing on the needs of their franchisees which will ultimately benefit the end user of the service and the brand as a whole.

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