Advisory Jun, 04 2015

How can a wellness franchisor safeguard its brand from dilution?

Maintaining consistency and ensuring quality check and control at franchise locations is a key challenge for brands. There is no doubt that franchising is a established concept as it helps brands in extending rapid footprint across the market but in real

By Amanpreet Kaur, TFW Bureau
Chief Sub Editor
How can a wellness franchisor safeguard its brand from dilution?

Whether it’s a services or retail business, maintaining an outlet as per the company’s standard guidelines is the need of the hour for brands or companies that are looking to ramp up their business on a national scale.  As far franchising model is concerned, various industries are relying on this proven business model to expand beyond geographies. Most important part of this replicable model is to manage and run the outlet as per company’s standard operating procedures (SOPs) to attract customer footfalls and generate revenues to enhance the requisite return-on-investment (RoI). And, this can only be achieved if the brand or company’s franchisees are operating the outlet as per the company’s standards.

Franchising is a boon+ bane for businesses

Every business model has its own pros and cons. Similarly in case of franchising, it is also considered to be the most profitable and proven model for expansion. However in reality, it too has its own disadvantages, if franchisor and franchisee fail to abide by the rules of the business. For instance, the recent case of CCTV camera in the trial room of ‘Fab India’ showroom in Goa has raised many eyebrows. It has not only affected the brand’s reputation but has put a big question on sustaining customer loyalty and fetching footfalls. In this recently happened case, the employees at franchisee’s premises were not only accused of damaging the brand’s image but they were booked for voyeurism and outraging the modesty of woman under other clauses of the information technology act.

For a franchisor, it takes years for to set up footprint on a national scale but a small mistake at franchisees’ end can ruin the overall image of the brand. So, it’s very important for franchisors to take cautionary steps to safeguard their brand from any sort of dilution. Such type of cases, keep happening within the franchisee’s premises, if franchisor fails to keep a regular check on franchisees to ensure quality standards.  Considering the same, Anurag Kedia, Director, Four Fountains De-stress Spa informs: “We have strict guidelines that CCTVs can be installed only at the reception and nowhere else at the spas, which are also audited on a periodic basis. We also lay emphasis on guest privacy and security during all our training programmes.”

 While, Gita Ramesh, Jt Managing Director, Kairali Ayurvedic Group. informs, “Prior to opening the centre,  the layouts of cctv lighting etc are vetted by our in house experts and regular site visits by our managers and auditors ensures no unauthorised changes take place.”

On expressing her views about the recently happened incident at franchise premise of Fab India in Goa and steps they have taken to avoid such incidents at their outlets, Shahnaz Husain, Chairperson & Managing Director, Shahnaz Husain Group of Companies feels: “As far as the service oriented chains are concerned, we observe a great deal of care. We have separate ladies and men’s salons. The treatments for facials and body care in the ladies’ salons are carried out by female therapists. A franchise salon is totally the franchisee’s responsibility. However, we do convey to our franchisees and staff that extreme caution and care must be observed. Client ethics is also a part of the Diploma course. Reputed brands in the service segment, or garment retail have naturally paid more attention to the incident and taken precautionary steps to avoid such incidents. It has served to draw attention to ethics and responsibility of the branded establishments.”  

Building a brand is not as easy as it seems. Since, the franchisor has invested so much of his time in establishing the brand within the market, so it’s important for a franchisor to recruit right partner on board who understands business, maintain conformity, uniformity and quality standards across all the franchise locations to safeguard their brand’s identity.

A word of advice

On advising new brands that are willing to explore franchising, Gita Ramesh informs: “Even though expanding at an exponential rate is a boon it can also be a bane, I advise new brands to choose their partners carefully, in-spite of pressures to grow fast. Brands should also ensure that their back-end is strong enough to support rapid expansions and escalations.” While, Anurag Kedia feels that often companies get tempted to start franchising before they ready for it. “Whether spas or any other business, the most important aspect before a brand decides to start franchising is to ensure that all processes are in place and the brand is ready to support the franchisees in all critical aspects of the business,” adds Anurag.

So, in franchising, it’s the franchisor who hold the reins of business and franchisee must follow the rules of the game to be successful. 

Related: Cautious steps for evaluating franchisees

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