4 key insights to follow in building a successful franchise in Australia

When I first ventured into the world of owning my own business, it made logical sense for me to start by buying a franchise. I knew it would provide me with the business model, systems and processes that would allow me to grow and learn but also feel supported in my journey.

That’s exactly what I did. I then bought the company. The franchising business model is a solid model that has proven its effectiveness. It not only provides scalability, but also cash flow for that growth, which is often the biggest issue facing business owners today.

What are the insights to help you build a franchise?

Over the last nine years I have been on a very bumpy learning curve. However, through the challenges, I have been able to finesse, pivot and evolve our unique business model which has allowed for exponential growth in the last 6 months. My greatest struggles have become my greatest insights and have allowed me to build up resilience and knowledge to lead me into 2023 with gusto. My top four insights to help you build a successful franchise are:

Pivot and Evolve your Model

When I first started building my franchise business, I had a set model in mind and that was that. As a few years passed and the competition in the industry ramped up, I knew that whilst the existing model was good, it was not enough to stand out in a crowded market.

It left me with two choices, to continue on and hope we had enough to keep growing or to pivot and evolve into an even ‘better’ model that would keep me one step ahead. Of course I I went with option two, but what that meant was a tonne of work from me, getting buy-in from existing franchisees and being prepared to take the risk by stepping into the unknown.

I did a lot of research. I spoke to members, franchisees, advisors and many many more and knew it was the right risk to take. I made the leap and my business growth went through the roof. I added an additional (three franchisees) into the business within the first year and as for the changes, EVERYONE loved it. Now I have a model that is unique, provides us with a competitive edge in an overcrowded market and I am seeing unprecedented results.

Advisors and External Expertise

My favorite quote is: “Never be so foolish as not to surround yourself with people who are smarter than you” by Andrew Carnegie. It’s something that took me a little longer to adopt because I am a little bit of a control freak, which, by the way, is pretty common in business owners who are in early stages of growth. Looking back, I wished I had focused on this much earlier because as soon as I bought in mentors and advisors everything changed for me.

Not only did I not feel so ‘alone’ anymore, I felt stronger, more knowledgeable and more confident. I had people I could turn to when I had some crazy idea I wanted to implement.

I had extra sets of eyes watching over the finances and cash flow and I was able to refine and evolve my systems and processes in ways I would never have thought of. This for me was a game changer and even if you think you don’t need this, I guarantee you that you do.

Systemised Sales & Marketing Process

I think that this is the biggest pain point that I felt along my journey, because, to be honest, I really didn’t like to sell. Thinking about having to make calls and ‘try’ and convince people about why we were better than other options felt overwhelming and frankly scary. My sales process was really passive and in turn my growth was slower than what it should have been.

Then I brought in one of my advisors who undertook a complete audit on every aspect of my business, especially sales and marketing. Clearly I already knew there was a huge gap here. What came out of it was a simple and easy systemised process that allowed me to have an ‘always on’ effective lead generation strategy. It also provided me with a great system in weeding out the ‘gold nugget’ leads from the ‘just snooping’ leads.

One more important thing to mention was that I also invested in a ‘sales gun’ and created a motivating package. Whilst it meant money out before money in, within a month, we had sold two additional franchises and six within three months. Therefore, the initial money pain was worth every cent and more. I think as franchise owners on a growth path it’s super easy to get stuck on ‘we don’t have the money to invest yet’, or ‘I will just wait a little longer’.

That was certainly the trap I fell into and one that I have learnt from. By having my sales and marketing processes audited by a ‘wiser person’ than me, it allowed me to really see how many opportunities I had missed and how it was not as scary as I had told myself it was.

Be Conscious of Growing Too Fast

As mentioned in the previous point, I think this insight is the one that is most relevant and recent for me. Our growth went through the roof which meant the volume of work that we needed to do to deliver on the growth was overwhelming. It flipped my work/life balance on its head and I had so many plates spinning, it increased the risk of mistakes.

Again, here I come back to point two – the importance of having reliable advisors. One of my advisors was experienced in fast growth in a similar business and tapped me on the shoulder to slow down for a minute and execute what was in the pipeline before pushing on. The slow down only meant that our sales process altered slightly in terms of urgency to close sales and allowed us to become more strategic in the selection process and territory mapping.

Watching your hard work start to pay off and seeing your brand pop up all over the country is one of the most rewarding feelings I have ever had. It inspires me to keep going, even when things get tough and it leaves me with such a feeling that I am making a difference in the world. I am helping the world become healthier and happier and helping my franchisees create amazing lifestyles for themselves and their families. What more could you ask for.

Sam Waller is the CEO of Stepz Fitness.