For many brands, the key to hooking multi-unit franchisees comes down to having the right foundation in place
“Growth is never by mere chance; it’s the result of forces working together.”
Long ago, James Cash Penney, the founder of JCPenney, uttered those words. He might have lived long before the modern concept of franchising was ever invented, but that same sentiment could easily apply to multi-unit ownership.
Owning multiple locations is the ultimate dream for many entrepreneurs. According to FRANdata, a research company that provides objective information, analysis and consulting about the franchising sector, 55 percent of the franchise industry is controlled by multi-unit operators. This type of business ownership has grown by more than 10 percent over the past few years—and for good reason.
The multi-unit franchisee is someone who typically has money, a strong understanding of scale, and, if utilized correctly by a brand, can have a lasting effect on the recruitment of others. They can help a brand flourish, taking them from one to ten units with a single signature. Every company craves a multi-unit franchisee. But only the best will be able to capture one.
For many brands, the key to hooking the multi-unit franchisees comes down to laying out the right bait.
Position Your Franchise as the Best in its Segment
No matter what line of work you’re in, there’s a lot of competition out there. Before considering targeting multi-unit investors for expansion, make sure you’re better at what you do than anyone else out there. Until you truly can advertise yourself as the breakout concept that doesn’t exist anywhere else, you’re competing in crowded territory.
“This is an opportunity to get leads flowing in your direction that might be going to other brands,” said Keith Gerson, president of FranConnect. “Make sure it’s obvious why your brand is better than the rest out there.”
The Brand’s Passion Needs to be Infectious
Multi-unit franchisees need to believe that what they’re doing is making a difference. And when a brand exudes that same type of passion, just about anyone will want to do business with you.
“Your franchise and your people need to be electric. If a prospective investor is talking to a brand, and all they’re talking about is money and metrics, that’s not what really puts people over the top,” Gerson said. “You’re trying to succeed in a business driven by people. And what drives people? A lot of the time, it’s emotion. Make sure that connection is there. You need good chemistry.”
Have a Good Support System
At the end of the day, you need to make sure that potential investors know that you have a strong infrastructure in place—one that can support one or 100 franchisees, whether they’re 10 or 50 miles away.
At Buffalo Wings & Rings, more than 30 percent of franchisees in the company are multi-unit owners. Shaun Hill, a multi-unit franchisee with locations in Bardstown and Elizabethtown, Kentucky, said the support owners receive from the brand makes all the difference.
“The corporate team is there to support you at every step. They’re there for me and willing to help when necessary. It’s like a well-oiled machine right from the start,” Hill said. “For me, that made it easier to jump on board.”
Have a Proven Track Record of Success
Buffalo Wings & Rings’ steady year-over-year growth throughout the U.S. helps to grab the attention of multi-unit franchisees, too. Investors probably won’t get behind a brand that’s stuck in a rut—they want a brand that’s thriving and on the cusp of even greater things.
“The Buffalo Wings & Rings model has been proven to yield positive results. Our model lives up to the expectations of franchisees, so the majority of them buy additional locations because they have seen just how successful they can be,” said Philip Schram, chief development officer at Buffalo Wings & Rings.