The pillars of franchising
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Sep, 01 2008

The pillars of franchising

Did you know that there is a budding career option hidden in the tiny gesture of building relationships as it is one of the key roles played by a franchise professional? Yes, another promising opportunity that lies in the bouquet of franchising is the fra

“What do you want to become in life?” is perhaps the most recurrent question that ever hit the human ear. Parents start fantasizing about the careers of their children long before the children actually understand what it means to get through IAS, AIIMS or IIT entrances. Although there is nothing wrong in taking up any of these professions, the emerging industries provide us with much wider options to choose from. Among the plenty of industries heading their way into the developing India, one of the most promising industries is the franchise industry and like any other industry, it too has a handful of career options.

Franchise professionals

Industrial and entrepreneurial India has led to the cropping up of lots of home grown as well as foreign concepts in India. Franchising being the most rapid and sure shot way to succeed is taken up by entrepreneurs to expand. As a result franchising in India which started growing in the 90s is growing exponentially at the rate of 30-35 per cent annually and consequently India has more than 1,500 franchisors at present. The boom in the franchise industry creates more and more need for people who serve as pillars of the whole franchise system. That is where franchise professionals step in.

“Being a franchise manager is all about people management and once you have acquired this trait there is no looking back. A franchise manager can grow only if his franchisees are successful first. If you believe that making somebody`s business more profitable gives you a high, then franchising is the industry for you,” says Amit Singh, National Business Manager, Eurokids. Like any other profession, this profession too demands a few qualities from the prospective candidates.

A franchise manager needs to have knowledge of the industry he is entering in, needless to say knowledge of the particular company and its brands too. Since his job comprises of roping in more and more franchisees with the brand, excellent communication skills, common sense, love for travel and knowledge of finance are a few pre-requisites of taking up this job. More than anything else one must trust the brand he is making the franchisees invest in as his effort wouldn`t hold conviction for others unless he himself has faith in the product he is selling. An MBA degree could be an added advantage but any graduate with some industry experience and the above mentioned qualities is the right candidate to enter the industry. Aloke Banerjee, CEO Rosebys believes, “A good graduate with common sense, good HR skills and two years of industry experience can come on immediately. I don`t want a fancy MBA but devoid of the above said qualities to start off.”

Career options

“Franchising as a career option is coming up as the next big thing. Right from education to food, retail, gift shops or textile everything can be franchised. All over the world most businesses are franchised. In India too franchising is on an expansion spree, there is going to be more and more need for franchise professionals,” declares Aloke Banerjee, CEO, Rosebys. Most of the companies franchising their businesses appoint franchise professionals at various levels. One could be at the entry level from where the person could rise to become the manager or senior manager and finally graduate to looking after all India operations. However, for the truly hard working people who have the potential to excel and develop systems it`s not difficult to reach the zenith.

Role of franchise professional

A franchise professional is the one single point of contact for the franchisees. It is he who does several jobs right from bringing in more and more franchisees to expanding business by allocating various locations to franchisees. However, his role does not end with making the franchisee invest rather he helps the franchisees in establishing the whole set up, guides him whenever the franchisee needs help. He is the one who is responsible for the success of the franchisee as well as the franchisor. A franchise manager acts as a bridge between the franchisor and the franchisee and therefore concludes the destinies of both which makes his role vital for the entire franchise system to run smoothly. His role comprises of building the sacred trust between the franchisor and the franchisee which is the essential pre-requisite to investment. More than anything else, his role is to find a franchisee with the right mindset and not just an investor who has money to invest because the franchisee cannot succeed unless he really trusts the brand. Commenting on the role of franchise professionals Ishwar Awatramani, Franchise Business Development Manager, Food Factory says, “It took us three-and-a-half years to get the operations right for the Food Factory kiosk. Now as the advantage of buying the business is granted by the franchise professionals, they certainly play a vital role.”

As asset to the company

Being the one who helps both the franchisee and the franchisor ink their success stories, a franchise professinal becomes an asset for the company. By helping the franchisees in becoming successful entrepreneurs, he creates leaders who in turn help him too in moving to the next level. A franchise manager plays a major role in the growth of the brand, thereby creating value for different share holders as well.

Banerjee played a key role in the branding of biscuits at Britannia like Maska Chaska, Fifty-Fifty and Marie to name a few. Bombay Dyeing once again came to life during his tenure with efficient franchise development and restructuring of the brands including Vivaldi. At S Kumar`s too, besides invigorating the franchise move to a large extent, Banerjee headed the launch and aggressive expansion of Carmichael House, the premium home textile brand. With the wealth of knowledge and expertise in franchising in textile, Banerjee is all set to make Rosebys a thirst quenching stop for every modern lady`s home décor needs.

Ansari signed over 25 franchisees in a short period of 12 months for KIDZEE. He took the count of Gold`s Gym from 7 to 40 in three years and the revenue grew over 100 per cent year on year. However, what Ansari considers his biggest achievement is that his franchisees have now started setting up multiple gyms. Gold`s Gym has 22 franchisees owing 40 gym facilities. After the US, India has the largest number of Gold`s Gym facilities.

Promising career

Given the huge potential in India, franchising is the best way to penetrate the vast Indian market where even Tier II and Tier III towns are growing rapidly. “Five years down the line you will probably find the best of brands in all the towns and cities of India. All this has already fueled the demand for quality manpower. With so much action in the franchising space, I feel franchise development is a very interesting career option,” declares Singh. Sameer Kachru Director Marketing Services, RHW Hotel Management Services Ltd too sees a great future for franchise professionals when he says, “India will not only see international brands franchise and sub franchise their respective products – but also the homegrown brands that are quite aggressive with this brand growth option. Franchise managers would become a `must` in each corporate set up that is looking to fuel its growth strategy.” However, it is very important for each brand manager to clearly understand the brand identity and the market segment that the brand would like to slot itself in.

Franchising provides one with an opportunity to learn the entire business and not remain restricted to any specific function like sales, marketing, operations etc. This happens because the franchise manager who signs the franchisee usually works as a central coordinating point for the franchisees for all practical reasons. Even if he is not the chief coordinating point, the franchisees have the tendency to call the franchise managers for any kind of support as they are the first point of contact in the company. Therefore, the people working in the franchise team are the obvious option when it comes to promotion to senior positions as they understand the business at micro level across all functions. So if you believe that you have the aptitude as well as the right attitude to be the bridge between the franchisor and the franchisee, being a franchise manager could definitely prove to be an amazing career option for you.

Advisory

Remember! A franchisor entrusts his brand in the hands of the franchise manager, a brand which has taken him many a sleepless nights to make. On the other hand, the franchisee entrusts the franchise professional his hard earned money and more importantly his dream to succeed. Therefore, it becomes his responsibility to live up to their expectations which eventually will lead to his own success too. “Keep calm when your franchisor or franchisee speaks, be fair to both and work hard,” says Banerjee to the prospective franchise professionals. Ansari finds franchising to be one of the best career options today as the work exposure that one gets in this industry is phenomenal. However what Kachru finds central to making a career in franchising is understanding of the brand and more importantly, of the overall business besides understanding the market your brand is functioning within. A franchise professional should not only be responsive to competition, but also be pro-active and agile to make changes if needed. He should set targets and chart out a detailed development plan for the brand to grow in an organized manner.

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