The ongoing support provided by a franchisor is worth its weight in gold. It’s often the most overlooked area when it comes to exploring different franchise opportunities but it is in fact the most important. If training is the tip of the ice berg, then the ongoing support is what lies beneath the water.
The depth and range of support varies from franchise-to-franchise. With some of the bigger franchise brands, the support structure is very similar to that found in large corporate companies. They have expansive resources with a person (or team) to fill each role. In addition to functioning as a support mechanism, they will usually be highly accountable and pull you up on anything that is not being done correctly (even reprimand).
On the other side of the spectrum, certainly in smaller franchisors, the ongoing support may be little more than the founder supporting you on a day-to-day basis. Neither is better or worse, in fact I know many franchisees that sing the praises for the support offered by the founder of a franchise, it simply depends on your personal preferences.
As with training, while the structure of ongoing support varies from franchise-to-franchise, the core components covered rarely change:
Head office support will usually cover the broader spectrum of business support, including IT, HR, Marketing, Innovations in the franchise system and more. If you have any IT related issues, questions concerning changes in employment law regulations and so forth, then Head Office are the ones who will handle this. In many cases you will have a dedicated support person for each department, allowing you to quickly move through any issues that arise.
Franchisees are usually assigned a franchise support or field manager who will support you throughout the life of your business. You will meet with them on a one-to-one basis where you will go through your business plan, discuss any key challenges, be coached on how you can further grow your business and much, much more.
You will typically meet with them at regular intervals however they are always at the end of the phone and willing to help as and when needed. You will find that you will draw on their expertise more in the earlier stages of your business setup. One of the great benefits of having a franchise support manager is that they usually support many franchisees within your region, allowing them to share great insight into what other franchisees are doing successfully. The continued success of their franchisees is the number one priority for franchise support managers.
After your initial training, many franchisors will assign you a mentor who will be your first port of call, particularly in the initial stages of setting up your business. They will usually be an existing franchisee who has been with the brand for a long time and already has a well-established business that’s ticking along nicely.
Mentors tend to offer their support to new franchisees, to bring more value to what they’re doing. Occasionally, mentors are compensated by the franchisor. Your mentor will help you bring training down to the ground and implemented successfully. They can be a guiding light and help fill in the inevitable gaps in the initial stages of the process.
Peer support is the wider support offered by existing franchisees. Since they are walking the same path, they can provide a valuable source of guidance and are normally very willing to help, particularly if you’re asking for their advice and opinion.