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We all know that nothing is as consistent as change. The ever-changing business environment demands that you exhibit vision if you want to remain competitive and continue growing. Vision is the proactive quality that enables leaders to not only be aware of market trends but to anticipate them. You have an obligation to your franchisees to anticipate, benchmark and set direction that will keep all of you industry competitive.
You've sold a franchise to the ideal candidate. In a matter of months a new site is going to be up and running. All of a sudden, your time is not your own. Your franchisee is going to have hundreds of questions, and some of them are going to require immediate responses. You can't put your answering machine on and catch up on calls once a day. If you don't have staff dedicated to franchisee support you're going to have to make yourself available at all times. Eventually the franchisee will become more confident and independent, but in the start-up phase this is all new and you're the expert. Invest in a cellular phone or a pager. And keep it on and with you. Respond as quickly and completely as possible. This is going to be a change for you since you're used to working on your own. Anticipate the need and you'll be able to manage it just fine.
You are committed to supporting your franchisee's Grand Opening. While you can delegate the responsibility, it's really best if you go yourself.
Plan to be onsite for 3 – 5 days. Arrive before the actual opening to assist with last minute details and approve the preparations. Make sure everything meets your standards for operation. If something doesn't, help the franchisee develop a plan to get to where they need to be.
Circulate during the Grand Opening and monitor operations. You need to do this in a helpful and friendly manner, not as a lurking supervisor. After all, you're the one with the experience and you want the franchisee to succeed.
After the grand opening spend time with the franchisee reviewing things that went wrong AND things that went right. It's a stressful time and emotions are running high. There are going to be items that need improvement. Be constructive when you cite them. You're the leader and you need to lead – not dictate. Before you attend the Grand Opening make sure your absence is covered at your own business.
Just like you, your franchisee needs a business plan. It's a critical operational document that provides focus for the business. It's a tool for analysis of performance. It's a requirement for most lending institutions and the Small Business Association (SBA), who may guarantee a loan for your new franchisee.
It benefits everyone if you assist your franchisee with the initial business plan. You can't write it or provide numbers (that opens up more liability than you want to deal with) but you can provide the format or an outline. You can also advise your franchisee on where to find the information needed to complete it. A basic business plan includes:
Your new franchisee will probably need your assistance in drafting their initial marketing plan. It is a critical internal document that provides direction for the company. It is also a crucial part of the business plan. If the franchisee is going to request financing, lenders will want to see a comprehensive marketing plan. You are going to have to approve the plan before the franchisee can proceed, so it makes sense to help develop the plan. You can either provide a format for the plan or a checklist of items to be covered.
Common elements of a marketing plan are: