A FLEXIBLE MODEL: Choosing the right approach to multi-unit for your franchise system.

Author:Hudson, Shannon

There is a common myth that franchise expansion is best achieved by awarding as many multi-unit agreements as possible from day one. However, if multi-unit development agreements are awarded without the proper systems in place to support such lofty development goals, you run the risk of not just one franchise location failing due to ineffective ownership--possibly many. In the long run, it is far better for a franchisee to run one outstanding location first as opposed to multiple lackluster ones. Therefore, the approaches to multi-unit franchising taken by a brand can vary.

As 9Round has grown to more than 770 locations in just 10 years, our franchise systems have evolved, presenting a need for variations in our approaches to multi-unit franchising. Over the years we have perfected our franchise model to become more scalable, which shifted our approach from gradual multi-unit franchising that requires full-time owner-operators to begin with a single location before eventual expansion, to immediate multi-unit development led by experienced franchisees who take on more of a semi-absentee owner role from the start.

Based on the evolution of 9Round's franchising practices, here are the ways both the gradual and immediate approaches to multi-unit franchising, although very different from one another, can benefit your franchise, and why their success is so dependent on your franchising model.

One-Location Approach

When you are deciding whether to welcome a franchisee who intends to own multiple locations, it is especially important that the person is the right fit for your system. In our first 10 years of business, when finding the appropriate ambassadors to serve as 9Round's franchisees, it was useful to require franchisees to succeed with just one location as full-time owner-operators before being awarded more units over time. A majority of the 40 percent of 9Round owners who are multi-unit operators today began according to this approach.

Having a calculated method to allow our franchisees into multi-unit ownership proved incredibly beneficial for 9Round in the long run by building confidence between us, the franchisor, and the franchisee prior to expansion into multiple franchise locations. When successful ownership of a single location is achieved, then the likelihood of the franchisee finding success with more locations increases.

Not only is the franchisee comfortable with the model already through training and hands-on experience, but the...

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