Building strong business and community relationships: the key to establishing a presence in the market: creating a strong brand identity through the power of networking.

Author:McPherson, Bill

The success of a franchise concept often relies on the competency and skill of its system. Many franchisors underestimate the impact of community networking, and fail to recognize how powerful it can be in boosting a company's bottom line and determining longevity in the marketplace. Not only can networking attract new business prospects on various levels, it can embed a franchise in a community and turn it into a neighborhood landmark.

Since the company's launch in 1985, Fastsigns International Inc. has focused on the importance of building relationships in local communities and emphasizing this marketing tool to franchisees continuously. From selecting the right franchisee candidates to providing ongoing support from home office, a franchisor organization can assist its network to become leaders in their communities and provide helpful tools to get them started.

Choose the Right Franchisees

It is important to choose franchisees who are able to network in their communities and serve as ambassadors to the brand. Potential franchisees should be carefully evaluated on their character and networking capabilities by filling out personality profiles, conducting in-depth interviews and looking at current affiliations with various organizations. Selecting candidates who have positive references, and a detailed history and knowledge of the community are proven to be able to build solid

business relationships. A candidate with a positive and personable character can become a networking machine, especially if provided the right tools. Franchise systems should communicate early on to their franchisees that the majority of their time and effort as a franchise owner will be spent creating and maintaining these relationships, and that this activity is critical to their success.

Training and Motivation

Franchisee training is a great opportunity for franchisors to teach new members of the system how to market their business on a grassroots level, and coach on building and maintaining community relationships. New members should be trained to be experts not only in their industry, but to position themselves as experts in the community as well. Encourage new franchisees to join chambers of commerce and participate in other community organizations such as parent-teacher associations, little leagues, rotary groups and business-networking groups.

Franchise systems can also survey their existing franchisees regularly on their return on investments from...

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