BALANCING FRANCHISE AND CORPORATE STORE DEVELOPMENT: How one emerging retail brand has evolved and grown using a smart mix of communication and flexibility to build its culture.

Author:Smith, Jeff
 
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Fiction not fact: corporate stores are favored. Overwhelmingly, the biggest hurdle to overcome when an emerging brand has both corporate and franchise-owned locations is perceived favoritism. There's a perception that corporate stores get more allowances, better delivery schedules, preferred pricing, more emphasis on marketing, and even that corporate managers receive better training than franchisees.

In terms of Peterbrooke, this is not true, nor should it be for any franchisor. Part of that default misconception can be inherited if you start with corporate locations before ever franchising. However, as they say, perception is reality. One must continually address the issue with two key strategies: inclusivity and flexibility.

Inclusivity

In order for a brand to function as a cohesive unit, regular dialogue and meetings must occur between franchisees, corporate stores and headquarters staff. In addition to monthly calls and webinars, Peterbrooke also brings together the entire organization in person twice a year. We meet once in the fall to prepare for the holiday season, when we do a large percentage of our annual business, and once in the spring to get ready for the summer months.

It's important that we prepare everyone on our team for the huge swings in business. Retail models can be different, including how predictable traffic flow may or may not be. Everyone needs to be on the same page. This happens with inclusivity.

We have business meetings with everyone at the table. Franchise owners, corporate store managers, manufacturers, marketing, suppliers, shipping, logistics, operations. Everyone.

Beyond that, Peterbrooke's Operations Advisory Council includes franchise owners, corporate store managers, manufacturers, our director of quality assurance, our director of training, and members of the executive team. We are all focused on working from the same playbook and constant communication is imperative.

Flexibility

Flexibility has its pluses and minuses. Just recently, one franchisee-owned shop had some employees quit and open a store that we considered a direct competitor. This franchisee had the flexibility to not have those employees sign a non-compete and confidentiality agreement. However, if such an agreement had been in place, Peterbrooke would have had a much clearer recourse. Instead, corporate and the franchisee had to work together on legal action, cease and desist letters and other communications to get the situation...

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