For over 60 years we have thought of and configured franchise "concepts" as cookie cutter look alike replications - capitalizations upon so imprinting an image upon the public mind that instant brand recognition occurs in the mind of those with the least acuity among us.

Accordingly, we have now so devolved that the phenomenon of sameness has eroded the ticky tacky repetition of an inherently boring model to the point at which so many fight to sell ninety-nine cent Dupche Kapusta to every late night Dzebrak who still has a dollar in his pocket.

I believe that there is absolutely no economic reason on earth to invest upwards of a million dollars to sell the lowest common denominator products and services to the least able to afford anything customer base.

At that point one does not own a business in any real sense. I know that the 99 cent sandwich is not the raison d'etre of the QSR franchise industry, or of its equivalent in the services business, but it is in fact the focus of so much of its advertising message that it seems like it is. That is one of the surer signs of dilapidation of the brand.

At this point the entire ticky tacky approach should be rethought if the goal is to attract investors who are not themselves rather ignorant FranWad material to be fleeced in phantasy business proposals that have little or no likelihood of success. Anyone who follows the franchising horror stories today knows exactly what I am talking about with no need for further elaboration.

Yet there is no new approach on this horizon. So called franchising "concepts" that are not concepts at all in any real sense of economic opportunity abound.

They are sold to those who have no clue about pre investment due diligence who are told fairy tales about being able to rely on the FDD and conversations with existing franchisees as the way to satisfy themselves of the prospective soundness of an affirmative investment decision. Utter nonsense!

There are now affluent investors seeking real opportunities. Franchisors that are themselves serious about finding a more durable, less price sensitive proposition to sell should consider turning from the worn out pattern. There in another direction.

In my last article I described how to sell such an opportunity. Not I am going to suggest how that kind of opportunity should be configured.

Let's begin with recognition that the way customers find you is no longer focused so heavily upon signage, building configuration, color schemes and other visual references.

The Internet has made many profound changes in customer acquisition techniques.

So many go on line to find what they want, looking at sites that focus on what they want, from plumbers and electricians to dentists and places to dine.

That is the reference that enables what I am advocating here. The old mantra about putting a store within a mile of a McDonalds and making it look bright with a look that will quickly become an instant proclamation in a customers mind of your name - secondary meaning if you will - is not the reliable benchmark it used to be.

Today your store can look different at every location; comply with any sort of design theme; spend far less on interior brand identifiers like napkins with your name on them and things like that.

Today people are taught to go on line and find the directory where everyone who is in basically the same business as you is listed, together with focus aids like location (including maps), price range, ethnicity, hours of operation, special events, menus, wine lists, link to your website, and a special page for customers to blog their views about their customer experience with you - good and otherwise.

That is the ultimate game changer from the day when you had commercials about smiling brain dead people plastically endorsing you in terms only a moron would credit.

Illustratively, if you look today at a Liberty Mutual Insurance Company television advert you come away with the impression that Liberty Mutual only insures very stupid people who cut off tree limbs while their neighbor's car is parked beneath, without asking him to please move his car so he can safely cut off the limb.

Every one of their adverts has some similarly idiotic person doing something just as stupid.

In the world of television today, a Gecko is the smartest spokesperson there is. That kind of genre advertising focused upon less than room temperature target IQ customers will continue, but it has little to do with franchising going forward.

If the Internet focused website for even the semi literate to find everything they need or want is the reference point of the future - which I strongly believe it is - uniformity of logo display will quickly become less and less significant.

Franchising notions of the significance of uniformity are heading for the sewer in terms of usefulness.

The Internet is a qualitative informer. You will have to work on more substantive and really value significant messages other than price discounting.

You can no longer prevent unhappy customers from going to exactly where people look for businesses like yours and posting negative customer experience messages. Where does that leave you in your approach to franchising?

It leaves you to focus upon the individual store rather than the system of many stores. The individual store must provide an attractive look; excellent service; high levels of product/service quality and presentation; store ambience that is pleasing and appropriate.

It does not have to look like any of your other stores. You can now replicate the model without replicating the look, as the look is no longer a promise of desirability.

Model replication is now performance centric.

The performance quality just spoken of will yield financial performance quality with competent management and a competent management system.

Artificial requirements calculated primarily to generate extraneous revenue streams from franchisee to the pocket of the franchisor will still ruin store financial performance just as it now does with so many franchise concepts - think of the logo bearing napkins and tying in supplies entirely to designated suppliers that pay commissions to the franchisor on their sales to the franchisees.

(The temptation to abuse that to the point of franchisee ruination will still be there. There will still, therefore, be the Quiznos and Marble Slab Creamery models to personify franchisee impoverishment. But, that is another story.)

What is the marketing plan for this new franchise model? That is the message of . The franchising business is due for a major tune up. Hopefully this kind of upgrade in quality will be that adjustment.

For the 5 Most Fascinating Stories in Franchising, a weekly report, click here & sign up.



Search for Articles

Follow Us