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With an experience of around two decades in the franchise industry, Santosh Kumar Choubey, Chairman and Managing Director, AISECT, holds enviable knowledge about its working. In a rendezvous with Parina Sood, he talks about his professional journey and ho
How long have you been a franchise professional? How has the journey been?
I have been a franchise professional for the past 18 years. We realised early on that in order to become successful on a pan-India basis, we should have mass appeal and be accepted by local communities, especially since we were operating in semi-urban and rural areas. So in the year 1995 we took the franchise route to make skills training, education and services available to as many areas as possible. We have been able to expand the AISECT franchisee network to almost 12,000 centres. Today, AISECT's centres are located across 27 states and three Union Territories of India at the district, block and panchayat levels.
What according to you are the three skills needed to be a successful franchise professional?
To be a successful franchise professional, it is critical to be innovative, perseverant and at the same time flexible enough to constantly tweak the model till it clicks with the customers.
According to you how has franchising brought about a change?
India has always been known for its entrepreneurial economy. Apart from the large business houses, there exists a large number of entrepreneurs spread across cities, small towns and rural India. There are several people who are willing to invest in good business propositions provided there is enough support and hand holding. Franchising has tapped that market.
How did you ensure that there was ongoing communication between the corporate office and its franchise partners?
We have taken up specific initiatives and a series of innovative ideas and campaigns in order to remain intact with our franchisees. AISECT extends all kinds of support and training to the franchisees. We make sure they go through rigorous training on a continuous basis. We also ensure that our strong field force constantly caters to the needs of individual franchisees like handling their queries and providing support. We even appoint senior franchisees in honorary management roles which enables them to support newer and smaller franchisees.
List the key elements necessary in a franchise business model from a long term perspective?
Achieving standardisation in processes, pricing and content, while still keeping the regional variations and demands in mind is very important. Continuous communication must be maintained with the franchisees. Also, their growth and expectations must be managed by continuous innovation.
Maintaining brand guidelines across the country
Maintaining quality of trainers across the country
Are you bullish about the growth of franchising industry in India? If yes, why?
Yes, certainly. The swift rise of the franchising industry has contributed significantly to the growth of services. It is a low-cost option for a service firm to grow, by moving into different geographical markets. Flexibility in approach, continuous guidance and the feeling of independence has led to a phenomenal growth of the franchising industry.
Your leadership mantra.
I believe in a strong work ethic and an inclusive management style. In an innovation pipeline, out of every 10 ideas, one is what really clicks but you really never know which one till you try all 10. That's something which is ingrained in the AISECT style of work. Every employee at AISECT is empowered to experiment and is an entrepreneur in his own right.