My colleague who handles systemization in our franchise development assignments always likes to remind clients that “superior systems in the hands of ordinary people deliver extraordinary results”.
When you think about it, this is a profound statement. It literally means that regardless of who runs your system, you will achieve greatness if the system itself is superior, able to deliver superior results consistently regardless of who mans it. This is true because a superior system removes inefficiencies and errors associated with humans.
A good example is in hydroponic farming- a modern way of farming where you feed nutrients dissolved in water directly to a plant’s roots, hence plants grow without soil. Since plants require a regular supply of nutrients, a superior hydroponic system attaches a timer to the pump supplying the nutrients to the growth medium which holds the plant roots.
The timer is set to activate the pump at desired intervals depending on the nutritional needs of the plant. This ensures optimum production as opposed to growth that relies on humans to switch on the pump.
Your workers will, without fail, miss the watering intervals hence affect the quality and quantity of your harvest.
Franchising is about refining your procedures into an organized system.
You then document the procedures, systems and define clear standards for each system to produce a franchise operations, procedures and training manual.
It is this manual that enables business replication and scaling-you use it to train newcomers with little or no knowledge to replicate your success and scale up your brand.
Most of the businesses you see today around the corner run on systems, no doubt.
But unless the owner has thought of replicating and scaling, the said systems are held in his/her head.
I have come across some seemingly very successful brands, running over years and with many outlets using the owner’s head as the operations manual.
Is it a wonder that most African-owned once-successful brands followed their founders to the grave?
If you hope to come close to franchising your brand you must develop, document and perfect your systems. To do this you need to think systematically through your business-again system comes in. Regardless of the scale, type or nature of the business you run, you need to think through and develop systems in seven areas, otherwise prepare to see your business follow you to your grave.
First is leadership. A business is as strong as its leadership. This defines the direction for your business, without which you become a jack of all trades and master of none. It is leadership that focuses you on your chosen core business at the exclusion of all else. Leadership is entrusted to a Board of Directors.
A board is composed in response to the needs of the business. A business requiring specialized skills will seek to have on their board a person highly skilled in such. Most businesses you see in your neighborhood are started as survival mechanisms for the owners-who are, in most cases, spouses.
They have “bedroom boards” where decisions are made haphazardly, oftentimes based on emotions and moods in the spouses’ marital relationship.
They can never really grow until they outgrow these emotional attachments. A brand seeking to franchise must set up a board that is independent of the shareholders of the business.
This assures potential franchisees of the long-term sustainability of the brand.
The writer is the Lead Franchise Consultant at Africa Franchising Accelerator Project that helps indigenous African brands to franchise, turns around struggling indigenous franchise brands to franchise cross-border, settles international franchise brands into Africa to build a well-balanced franchise sector and creates a franchise-friendly business environment with African governments for quicker African integration.