As part of our series exploring different business strategies to help you enter a foreign market, we’re honing in on international franchising.
If you are ready to take your brand global, international franchising can be a low-risk, high reward strategy. Franchising can provide your business with fantastic opportunities to scale-up and maximise exposure to new markets with minimal investment.
It comes with risks, of course, but providing you do your research and work with talented language translation services providers and other localisation experts, you can make a success of this model.
What is international franchising?
Franchising is a model that many businesses make a great success of all over the world. It involves a franchisee – usually an individual or individuals – buying the rights to run a business using the franchisor’s successful business model. This will include the rights to use the franchisor’s brand and trademark.
International franchising works in the same way, but the franchisor is selling the rights, or ‘franchise’ to franchisees based in overseas markets. This allows the franchisor to expand internationally without having to physically up sticks and operate his/her overseas branches/locations, leaving the hard work to trusted local franchisees instead.
What are the keys to a successful international franchise?
- Finding the right franchisees
One of the best places to start looking for the right franchisees in various markets overseas is the International Franchise Association. It can provide you with guidance and advice every step of the way when embarking on an international franchise project, but can also help you to find franchisees.
A good franchisee is usually someone who has a proven track record in running businesses like yours and who has strong contacts and experience in the region into which you are expanding. You can make your franchisee recruitment process more robust by attending relevant international industry events and ensuring you have a faultless and high-profile online presence, as this helps to attract high-calibre people to your brand.
Recruiting a central franchisee in each market to help oversee, train and guide your franchises in the different markets is a plus. Look for someone who can provide you with local knowledge and insight, then use localisation experts and language translation service providers to help ensure that you don’t fall foul of local customs, legal disputes, employee disputes or regulatory problems.
- Expanding into the right markets
Identifying the right markets for your franchise is crucial to success. Carrying out thorough market research will help you to establish whether or not people in a certain market will actually want to buy your products or service. Sometimes, you are already attracting foreign customers without even realising, so check which markets are already interested in your offering and focus on these, if possible.
- Understanding legal and regulatory constraints
Having someone on the ground in each market that understands the legal issues involved with running franchises will help you to identify issues. Problems can occur if you have not properly translated documents pertaining to employee laws, trademarks and copyright laws, product ingredient regulations, insurance and taxation, for example.
- Providing good levels of training to franchisees
As well as finding the right people, it’s important to provide a good level of training, particularly in the early stages to the first franchisees you take on. Subsequent franchisees can be trained by Master Franchisees in each location. Translating employee contracts and other legal documents into the appropriate languages for your franchisees will be expected and appreciated, and can help build loyalty between yourself and your new international franchise-holders.
What are the benefits of international franchising?
As well as the initial cash injection from the franchisees paying you to take on the rights to operate using your business model and branding overseas, you also stand to enjoy international expansion with minimal effort on your part.
You will need to keep a close eye on matters in the early stages, but the day-to-day operations, including things like management, recruitment, dealing with suppliers, accounting and marketing will become your franchisees’ responsibility.
Molly Maid: Cleaning up in the international market
Canadian cleaning business Molly Maid runs an enormously successful international franchise model. It started out in Ontario in the late 1970s and is now regarded as one of the most successful franchise businesses in several of its international markets, including the UK and the US.
As well as these English-speaking countries, it also offers franchises in Japan and Portugal, with dedicated local-language websites for those interested in becoming a franchisee in these markets. On the Portuguese franchisee site there is a video featuring local clients and franchise-holders speaking in Portuguese, which helps to engage with potential franchisees and build relationships with the brand.
Throughout the business’s international operation, the model remains the same: friendly and trustworthy domestic cleaning staff who work in teams of two. There is a Route Master at each cleaning appointment who will inspect the work after it is completed and check it is of the standard required. Replacements are sent in the event of a regular cleaner being ill.
A proven business model, strong brand identity and a good online presence are all essentials for any business considering international franchising. However, just as important is a willingness to communicate with overseas franchisees in their own language and to build relationships with quality, experienced people who may become Master Franchisees in each local area.
Working with language translation service experts like the team at Bubbles Translation will mean that any materials you create for your franchisees will be written in a language that they not only understand, but also in terms that offer a real connection.
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