The CEO of Salts of the Earth offers advice for up and coming players in the franchising industry.
1851: What was it that drew you into franchising?
David Lindsay, CEO of Salts of the Earth: When we started Salts of the Earth, I had a vision we would have hundreds of centres throughout Australia and also enter International markets as I truly believed and still do, Salts of the Earth is a Global brand. I really didn’t know how we were going to achieve this at the time, and it wasn’t until our clients began to ask how they could get involved in Salts of the Earth and bring health back to their community. “Franchise” was the common word that kept coming up. I was not aware of what franchising was, so I began to look into it.
I initially started Salts of the Earth after witnessing the results my father had from Salt Therapy, and I wanted to give the millions of Australian sufferers of respiratory and skin conditions an affordable health option as they deserve it. Now, having been educated on franchising, I love this sector. We are now giving people the opportunity to “give it a go” and run their own business and create their own future, whilst providing an affordable health option to their community and growing a brand and network. So, to answer the question, I am passionate about helping people and seeing them succeed no matter if they are a franchise partner or a client.
1851: What do you do to help your brand stand out from the competition?
Lindsay: Salts of the Earth’s brand started out very spa and alternative looking, using a lot of natural colors. As a result, we noticed that we were only attracting the alternative market when the therapy is designed to be complementary to mainstream medication management plans. After sitting down and identifying who our clients are and where we wanted to end up as a service, in the professional complementary health space, we decided change was needed. We re-engaged our brand strategist, presented the project and came up with the current brand logo and color pallet, redesigned our centers to be more clinical looking, and altered our language.
We also invested heavily into the professional development of our website, imagery, and content about who we are and what we do. It is crucial that the brand looks professional and credible. Being a franchise network, it allows us to invest this type of money, where our independent competitors do not have this ability or level of investment. We also came up with a marketing library full of predesigned content for our franchise partners to use, so we ensure consistency in our brand and content.
As we are dealing with over 30,000 appointments per month across our network, we also identified that our clients are our advocates. By working with them to achieve their goals, we then get a testimonial with before and after results that gets pushed throughout our social media pages, further reinforcing our brand into the community of the franchise partner.
Clients are sold to all day every day, it’s crucial the brand presents well and stands out from the noise clearly stating that it is going to meet the expectations of the client. Clients will judge your services or product before they even try them, based on the quality presentation of your brand.
1851: What advice would you give to other young up-and-comers?
Lindsay: I get asked this question a lot. The key to success:
- Knowing your WHY, and entrenching your WHY into every aspect of your business including all stakeholders; staff and clients.
- Employ the right people. Business is all about people, you as the founder of the business, to your staff who represent your business and its WHY, to your clients. The truth is people make or break your business, so know when to move someone on so the integrity and culture are not affected.
- Get the right advisors around you who know your business and align with your vision.
- Know who your client is, and their behavior, this is crucial for marketing and being more productive and targeted with your spend so you get a return.
- Have a clear plan with defined KPI’s and position descriptions. Patience and persistence is key here, we might get a few traffic jams, however, we still know where we are going.
- Secure all intellectual property for the business. We currently own over 100 domain names around salt therapy that point directly to our website. This is hugely beneficial for Google searches when you become a big player. Trademark your brand wherever you plan on growing.
- Franchising sounds exciting and great way to grow, however before you even consider franchising, make sure the unit economics of the business work and return – this includes full wages, a marketing levy and monthly franchise fee. If the unit cannot sustain these additional expenses, you are not ready to go to market yet. Once you achieve strong unit economics and you have documented the system, open a second location and replicate the success. Once you have achieved success in your second location without affecting your first location, you are ready to start looking at franchising.
- You need to know what the future franchisor looks like, how many people it employs and what support it offers, and then work these costings back to a franchise fee for the franchise partner. 1, 5 & a 10 year plan with cash flows to understand the needs of the Franchisor.
- Recruitment in franchising is also crucial. Make sure you are not recruiting people looking for jobs, however people looking for an opportunity. Never stress sell a franchise because you need the money, you will make mistakes that will cost more in the future. We recruit on attitude and cultural alignment; over 1,600 inquiries and only 29 franchise partners. Everything else flows on from there.
- Lastly, think “BIG”. Do not get caught up in the day to day operation. Make sure you are focusing the majority of your time on building the business. Mistakes are made, you need to make them and accept them with a positive attitude, we either win or learn!
1851: What advice would you give to someone deciding to own a franchise?
Lindsay: Franchising is a great opportunity for you to take control of your life. Business is hard, and that is why so many SME’s fail in the first 2 years of their operation. Franchising does not promise you success, however, you will be supported throughout your journey with the brand. Many businesses are too busy trying to survive and they do not have a team focused on innovation and the future direction of the brand to stay relevant with their clients and the market. A good franchise system will have a team whose job is to continuously be analyzing historical and present data to make better decisions on future strategies.
When looking into a franchise:
- Know your passion. What do you see yourself doing for the rest of your working life and onwards? Food, health, fitness, professional services?
- Do you like working within a network of people, knowing that there is a system that requires compliance and clear communication and engagement?
- Does your vision, work ethic, behaviors align with the brand, its culture and future direction of the franchise? Do you see yourself entrenched in the WHY of that brand?
- Speak to other franchise partners and ask the same questions of each. Know that some franchise partners may have a breakdown in the relationship with the franchisor, however, keep it factual so you get the information you require.
- What support is offered and what are the fees.
- Are you so passionate about that brand and its product/service that you are going to consistently be out marketing it in your local area?
- How transparent has the franchisor been? Have they provided you with all the necessary documents for you to get advice on? Have they asked you your expectations of the business?
- Lastly, are you looking for an opportunity that requires a lot of responsibility and work or a job? If the latter, I suggest you do not proceed with a franchise.
1851: What are some things you like to do in your spare time?
Lindsay: During the first five years in the development of Salts of the Earth, I had five days off, being Christmas day each year. Wherever I traveled, I had my laptop, I could not get away from it. I now have a team of great people, who I have trained and empowered to run their departments, that I now have weekends off. I hustle Monday to Friday, and if required over the weekend, however, it is important to have time with your loved ones to refresh your family’s “WHY” you do what you do.
I am a young father with a beautiful supportive wife, who is also my product manager, and we have two beautiful boys, Hamish 3 and Caden 6 months. We have a camper trailer and in the summer months we love to get away for the weekend where there is no interference or phone reception.
During the week I go to the gym, it is so important to be fit and healthy, not just physically but mentally and I find the gym does this.
I also study two nights a week. Education is key to growth and success in your personal development.
Saturdays are all about catching up on house life with the family, playing footy with Hamish, bringing the dogs for a walk, swimming lessons and the odd dinner and drinks with my wife and friends.
Sundays are all about prep for the week, clothes, food and work schedule so that you have a clear structured objective for the week allowing for greater productivity.