According to the International Franchising Association (IFA), the franchising sector has added over one million jobs to the economy, and is expected to exceed record growth this year. In addition to that, the franchise sector’s job growth is traditionally 20 percent higher than all businesses economy-wide.
The CEO of SpeedPro Imaging, the nation’s leader in large-format imagery, Boris Katsnelson, acquired the brand years after it offered its franchising opportunity. SpeedPro Imaging has also been ranked eight times in the prestigious Entrepreneur magazine’s annual Franchise 500® list consecutively from 2009 to 2016. Firenza Pizza, the newest contender in the billion-dollar fast casual pizza industry anchored by a team of franchise executives with over 100 years of industry experience, opened their first restaurant March 2015, and began franchising September 2015. Both franchises offer great insight on why it is important for you to franchise your small business from the perspective of an acquired franchisor, and a brand that recently began franchising its concept.
SpeedPro Imaging – Boris Katsnelson
Franchising has become a trend amongst small businesses due to the many benefits that it can offer. Franchising not only helps establish a reputable image with the company’s partners, or franchisees, but together, the franchisees and corporate create a nationally recognizable brand. I acquired SpeedPro Imaging in April 2014; nine years after the brand offered its franchising opportunity in 2005. I brought my background in helping companies optimize their businesses to build upon SpeedPro’s established foundation by delivering operational improvements to the systems, and to enhance the strategic direction of the company. SpeedPro is part of an exploding market of large format graphics that is over $17 billion and growing at more than six percent annually.
Our franchise model is different than other franchises because of the investment in our franchisees. It is important to establish a unique model when franchising your business so that you can successfully build your brand. Our first priority is having the franchisees believe that we are true partners in the SpeedPro Imaging brand, and care deeply about their success. We have worked hard to forge a deeper relationship with our franchise partners, and welcome their input on enhancements they’d like to see in the system. We have launched some new initiatives after my acquisition of the SpeedPro Imaging franchise:
- New Branding Guide / Marketing Collateral – We rolled out a new Branding Guide with an updated SpeedPro logo and updated marketing materials to help franchisees market and grow their businesses.
- Franchisee Training / Intranet – We have redeveloped our new franchisee training program to help franchisees open faster, and to start growing their revenue before they open their doors. We launched a new intranet site, the Hub, to be a central repository of training and other useful information.
- New Website – Our new SpeedPro.com and individual franchisee websites include a dynamic back end platform to aid the franchisees in managing their online presence.
- Workflow/POS System / FTP & File Storage – We launched a new workflow/POS tool that aids franchisees in efficiently managing day-to-day business within their studios; which effectively makes the studios scalable. Additionally, we’ve implemented a secure cloud-based file storage and transfer service.
- Business Review Process & Field Consulting System – We’ve created tools to help franchisees understand their business from a financial perspective. In addition, we’ve launched a Field Consulting System to standardize and improve our franchisee support.
The SpeedPro Imaging model is different than other small businesses in our industry because we provide the tools, systems, and support to help our franchise partners reach their goals. Our owners do not have to reinvent the wheel or worry about certain elements of their business that we handle from the Home Office. These executive elements include: the online presence, marketing, POS, training, support and vendor discounts. We are also relatively unique in that we have regional developers that have or are currently operating SpeedPro Imaging studios that provide the field support for our owners, who better than to consult on the business than some that’s actually been there and done that!
SpeedPro also does not seek those with a traditional printing background. We do not want the franchisees to have sign and graphics experience; instead we want executive level individuals focused on quality and customer service. We educate our franchisees on the print side of the business. We also focus on building a sustainable competitive advantage by driving strategic initiatives to enable our franchise partners to thrive in our model is embedded in the DNA of our company. As we continue to grow our system, our team members and loyal franchisees remain the backbone of the SpeedPro brand. It also allows our franchise to reach higher levels of success.
Franchising provides a proven system for entrepreneurs to build their business under a single brand. The right type of small businesses should consider franchising to scale quicker than they could themselves. They can create the operating system and train and support entrepreneurs to achieve their personal goals using the business as the conduit. Franchising has helped SpeedPro Imaging reach over 120 locations partnered with entrepreneurs throughout the United States that we would not be able to achieve on our own. One of the most important parts of being part of a network like SpeedPro Imaging is that all of the owners are in the same business and can share best practices together. It truly is a partnership and as evidenced by the input we’ve received from our franchisees and the initiatives we’ve launched, it is a successful partnership indeed!
Firenza Pizza – Dave Wood
Firenza opened its first store in March 2015, and launched its franchise opportunity shortly after in September. My longtime friend and business partner, Dave Baer, and I previously owned 17 Dominos franchises before selling those a couple of years ago. We spent time on other projects but we kept thinking about the newest concept in the pizza industry—fast-casual custom-made pizzas. We decided to take our 30 years of experience as franchisees and launch a pizza concept of our own. With our previous experience as Dominos franchisees and our executive team with over 100 years of restaurant development experience combined, we understood the importance of making our mark in the $40 billion pizza industry.
Franchising is a great option for small businesses because it allows an emerging brand to accelerate its growth, increase its talent pool, and build the quality of the brand. Since launching our franchise opportunity last September, we were able to sign several single- and multi-unit deals—including a 25 unit development deal across the Mid-Atlantic.
Our team was developed by trusted franchise executives and proven franchisees, with more than 100 years of restaurant business development experience. It is crucial to choose your partners carefully, and be prepared to open up to them about your concept. Having fresh perspectives from a trusted team of partners could help your brand reach heights of success that may not have been possible alone. We also count on our experienced franchisees in the overall development of Firenza’s brand. The franchisees that signed the 25 unit development deal have over 50 years of combined experience in retail and franchising. With that being said, franchising is more than just selling units, but investing in loyal franchisees that are as passionate about the brand as we are.
Besides overall brand growth, franchising gives the opportunity for more great individuals to look at every aspect of our business. A challenge that every operator faces is battling tunnel vision, instead we encourage all of our team members to offer new business perspectives. Our team does a great job of avoiding tunnel vision, and we always trust our partners to look for additional ways to improve. It is important to continue growing in an industry that never remains stagnant; which we understand greatly from our experience as franchisees in the ever-evolving pizza industry. With that being said, it is important to capitalize on industries that are not showing signs of slowing down. With Americans spending nearly $40 billion per year on pizza and about three billion pizzas sold annually in the United States, franchising our new pizza concept has room to grow in this market.
Transitioning from franchisees to the franchisor of our own concept allowed us to take control of our expansion plans—we no longer have another group of executives calling the plays. Our focus as franchisees was to execute the plays that someone else called, and now we are calling the plays. However, it is important to never compromise your standards, instead form a team that supports and capitalizes on the same principles. Overall, franchising could be very rewarding for small businesses that are looking to expand their concepts, keeping all of these things in mind.