Franchising business focused on kids

On the surface there’s not much difference. A business focused on kids is run much like any other after all.

But there are two things that differentiate…

The question on who’s the client?

And the associated question on who should be the franchisee?

Both revolve around the central tenant we preach here at Franchise Simply – franchising is all about people and you need to structure and manage your franchise group around your people – both customers and franchise partners.

So, who is your client?

I researched children’s franchise businesses and the options are many and varied. Childcare outfits. Tutoring businesses covering pre-schoolers being given an enhanced environment within which to learn all the way to Year 12’s advanced STEM subjects. Sports organisations covering everything from gymnastics and swimming to footy, karate and athletics. Music lessons of every kind. Drama and theatre. Party franchises. Toys, clothes, equipment for hire and sale – both educational and not so educational. Photography for kids and there’s even a franchise offering 3D and 4D Prenatal Imaging.

The list goes on.

Mostly the product being delivered is being delivered to kids. And so, there is no doubt someone in the organisation needs to get on with kids – in most cases they must be happy.

Mostly also, the product being delivered is specialised and there is no doubt someone in the organisation needs to be trained, probably qualified in some way, and know what they’re talking about.

But most of all, usually the person buying the product and assessing the outcome is an adult – a parent or grandparent.

Which takes me to the question of who will make the best franchisee?

If you are just thinking of product and service delivery, then there’s no question. Someone with the skills and personality to make the kids happy.

Most people attracted to working with kids and who are good at the job tend towards a supportive personality. They have lots of empathy and are good at building relationships with the kids. They are drawn to working with kids because they love what they do and the outcome they can achieve through their work.

Here’s the rub though.

A person buying into a franchise group as a franchise partner is buying a business. So, they need to make the sale to adults (parents and grandparents) not looking so much for fun, empathy and understanding. They want to buy a great product.

We find a rapidly growing number of franchisors in this digital time bringing in the leads for everyone in the group. Most then send the lead to the appropriate franchisee and it is the franchisee’s task to convert the sale.

Over time it is also the franchisee’s job to build a reputation and a network in their local area. They must be out and about showing off the brand and getting to know other kids’ organisations along with their primary contacts – teachers, other kids’ business owners.

As franchise owners, they also must be good at business. Making sure the money is working, getting the sales, managing staff, keeping an eye on how everything is going.

The rub is that most supportive personalities are great at delivering the product in an environment such as kids’ franchises are terrible at looking after business – they just don’t like the hard bits and avoid them. Networking meetings, cold calling for sales, doing the bookkeeping are all too difficult.

This problem exists with any group where the person delivering the product generally needs to be a supportive personality – nursing, teaching, massage therapists, social media…

Even Jim in the early days found this with his lawn mowing franchises. He wanted his franchisees to be pushing the mowers, bringing in the money and not distracted with business responsibilities. So, he took every call, made every booking, took all the money, and allocated it as required, did all the invoices, and generally made sure business worked all round.

So, what are the options?

It’s tricky. Especially in the early days when a franchise group is just getting going. Most would be franchisors who have come to us insisting they need to have their franchise partners be a nurse or massage therapist and have had to completely rethink their business model in the first year or two. And it is agonising. It often involves buying back the first lot of franchises simply because they are not performing and it’s evident that they never will.

Option 1 – the franchisor takes on the tasks the franchisee can’t do

This is the Jim option. The franchisor picks up most of the business operations for the franchisee. And I have to say, in the early days when you are just building the group this can be very effective. Initial training through induction and commencement focuses on the technical and customer service bits, making sure delivery is done well.

Experience tells us, however, that many of your franchisees will want to progress from that point. Many people attracted to buying a franchise do not have business skills and are looking to get this experience in a safe environment which is why they are attracted to this business model. They will be looking for business training and it is in your best interests to give it to them, or they will tend to go elsewhere.

As they build their business skills with your help, these franchisees will become very valuable business partners, many growing to become multi-unit franchise owners, managing their own suite of managers and staff delivering your product your way.

Option 2 – set up master franchises with the skills to run the business for a region

As the group grows, this is probably the option you will be looking for. In the early days though, it is expensive to set up – will there be enough money in the group to keep a third layer supported financially.

If you do take this route though, your master franchise partners will have completely different personalities and skill sets. You will be looking for people who can manage business, sales, build networks, manage other franchisees, staff, tricky adult customers, the money – be a leader for their region.

With this layer in place, your franchise partners at the delivery level can do just that – focus on delivering your great product or service to the happy kids in your franchise family.

Before you take this step though, just make sure you understand how much money it is going to take to successfully put this layer in place. And, right up front, make provision for this next level in your strategic planning for your children’s franchise.

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