If you operate a large business that offers franchises, it opens up a whole new world of opportunities – and headaches, if not managed properly. The same applies if you’re running a franchise yourself and are eager to succeed. There are several key aspects of this variety of business operations that are critical to not only keeping things ship-shape but also avoiding a head-on collision with hard times. Many franchisees and franchisors struggle without the right environment – one that is conducive to efficient operations.

Fortunately, you don’t have to stress if you’re strategic about how the day-to-day is run. Whether you run the company from the top or are a franchisee yourself, we’re hopeful that the following tips can help you firm up your grasp of the essentials of any effective business franchise operation.

Simplicity is Key

Have a massive menu with limited storage space, staff, and other resources at franchise locations? You might want to take another crack at trimming it down. On the other end of the spectrum, enabling owners of locations to submit feedback on what’s working and what isn’t is a great way to gauge capacity. Often, simplicity is key: Consulting critical supply chain data, spend metrics, and details on approximate customer engagement per service or item can go a long way in streamlining the way franchises are managed. Waste not, want not, right?

Sensible Services

What if you operate as one of many service providers who share a parent company, such as a team of landscapers or in-home caregivers? Not only do all services have to align across all chains for the most part so customers aren’t confused or frustrated, but they also need to be sensibly implemented with consideration given to operating capacity, local needs, and more. There needs to be an open dialogue between franchisees and franchisors to keep everyone on the same page; otherwise, you could end up losing control and developing a disconnect that creates nothing but waste and stress.

Zero in On Your Target Demographic

The more you get to know your prospective, past, and current customers, the more your operations can be catered to appeal to more of them. Your employees are on the front lines, so take the time to collect feedback from them and gauge how that latest promotion or new service is being received. Perhaps one franchise isn’t getting as much traction because the local population has different interests and needs, while another rakes in big money from the same offerings. This is the trouble with franchising; while there needs to be consistency, so the brand is recognizable and runs the same way, there needs to be a clear incentive for per-location leads to choose you. Again, working with the head office on refining as needed to improve profits and customer satisfaction is of critical importance.

Don’t Bite off More Than You Can Chew

Manage multiple franchises? Or, is your company making more franchises available on an international scale? Take things one baby step at a time and leave nothing to chance on such ventures – you’ve come this far, so see what’s worked and learn to identify what the riskiest moves are! First, consider whether your experience, finances, and operational capacity is an ideal match for such an undertaking. If you’re not even breaking even, let alone generating a significant profit, then it’s time to put those dreams on the back burner and dig deep to address the current issues holding your operations back. You’ll save yourself a lot of headaches and drama this way, plus gain invaluable experience that can be used later on for those big plans. In that sense, not biting off more than you can currently chew is a great way to optimize for the future!

The “Ice Cream in Summer” Approach

Okay, this sounds like a weird tip but hear us out: When is your franchise going to perform at its peak during the year? For instance, a landscaper sure isn’t going to make much of anything in the dead of winter, so optimizing operations accordingly is important. You need to do this to manage cashflow and your marketing strategy, among other things.

With that said, where in the world does this whole “ice cream in summer” thing fit in, anyway?

Well, look at it this way: You’re certainly not going to sell much ice cream at a McDonald’s when it’s snowing and sleeting sideways. As for fall, well, that’s sort of pumpkin-spice-everything territory, so we don’t really mess with those guys. Along with spring being nothing but a myth in North American climates given the fact that we often see snow into even early May, summer seems like the clear winner. Plus, it just makes sense: Ice cream in summer – who’s going to argue with that?

With this example in mind, plan ahead when dealing with your operations to see where they can make the biggest impression in the market, including local holidays and initiatives. Hire, order inventory and prepare your advertisements accordingly, and you’ll up your chances of success. It also shows communities that you understand them and aren’t just there to make money – more of a personal statement, which is always appreciated!

Opening Your First Franchise

If you’re just starting out, don’t be stressed – this is a great opportunity if you have what it takes, and all that matters is that you’re careful about how you manage things. The success will then follow – all in good time! Opening your first franchise should be a fun and exciting experience with plenty of great opportunities ripe for the picking if you can prove yourself. Testing your mettle with over hiring out of paranoia or slashing prices and hours is not the way to go. Instead, test the waters by getting to know the locals, your team, and even your own management style.

As they say, knowledge is power, so don’t go in blind when it comes to franchising and you’ll see that there’s a lot of potential for your operations, particularly if you implement streamlined processes and maintain a collaborative dialogue with the higher-ups. Read up on the failures more than the success stories, piece together what went wrong, and apply that knowledge to make your endeavour the best it can be.