To succeed in business we need to innovate. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a big or small business, a franchise or boutique. Innovation is the key to moving forward, maintaining growth, and staying relevant, writes Stockdale and Leggo COO Anna Thomas.
In our current culture, hip startups and boutique agencies are seen as being at the forefront of innovation. The franchise style of doing business tends to wear an “old hat” reputation. Hardly known as being dynamic or sexy, franchises are about having precise systems and structures in place. But, what if I told you that these exact systems and structures enable and provide the space for innovation to flourish? I can tell you from experience, they do.
As COO I have witnessed and contributed to the growth of our company, even in a market downturn, through innovative practices. As with any business, a franchise is only limited by the vision of its people. With creative thinkers onboard, traditional styles of business can see remarkable results by implementing new methods of doing business and expanding the scope of what they have to offer.
Here’s how I recommend innovating for franchisors who are struggling to think outside the box to keep their offering fresh.
Respond Directly to Customer Needs
Customers are always seeking the latest and the greatest. You have to be ready to anticipate their needs, and give them more than expected. Give them an experience rather than just a product, and continue to find ways to expand on what you offer. Take the limits off!
Ask yourself, can I do more? The answer is yes. Client experience should be the top focus of innovation in business. It’s all about finding a need and filling the gap.
How did we do that? We put ourselves in our clients’ shoes and thought about what makes buying or selling a home the hardest. We realised that oftentimes the stress of moving house is the worst. So, we came up with a solution to turn a typically stressful time into a simple and positive experience. The ‘Whole House’ project was born – a concept tailored to help our clients with every facet of their move from relocation to organising utilities and insurance. It was an idea that revolutionised the entire way we do business.
In the current economic climate, to set yourself apart in a competitive marketplace you need to differentiate yourself. By solving a problem with something that no one else is offering, you will surpass the transactional client relationship and develop deeper relationships.
Providing value is what brings customers to your door and remember, customers are not just those who buy from your franchise – they are also potential franchisees. You have to be preemptive and innovate in a tightening market, and bring value to the table, not only for your customers but also for your franchisees.
The Whole House initiative is all about value and it leaves our clients feeling looked after and satisfied. Not only has it provided potential clients with the incentive to choose us, but it’s added value to our franchisees too by offering them an additional income stream.
One of the greatest virtues of a franchise business is having brand recognition. When people know your brand, it makes it easier to forge new connections and business relationships. Our brand name made it easy for us to partner up with an established connections company to develop and roll out our plans successfully for the ‘Whole House’ project. Without using brand power to our advantage, this would not have been possible.
Not all franchises are the same. Just like any business, it’s what you put in that you get out. You must look towards the future and implement change from the roots up by staying responsive to the customer’s needs. If you do this, you will see success ripple through the entire franchise, just as I have.