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Franchise Is All About Brand

Apr 24, 2008
You may be surprised to find that many of your favorite brands are franchises. In fact, without realizing it, you most likely do some sort of business with a franchise every day. You've eaten at Baskin-Robbins, Cinnabon, Dunkin' Donuts, KFC, Pizzeria Uno, and Carvel Ice Cream Bakery. You've relied at H&R Block, to ship packages at The UPS Store, and to repair your car at Midas Auto Service Experts. You've bought shoes at The Athlete's Foot, stocked up on vitamin supplements at General Nutrition Centers, had your hair removed or skin rejuvenated at a Sona MedSpa. And you've no doubt purchased just about anything and everything at your nearest 7-Eleven. All of these corporations are built on franchises.

Many of these companies are not restricted by national borders. Just as the American economy is going global, so are franchises, which is why so many recognizable brands are found all over the world. For example, The Medicine Shoppe, a retail pharmacy chain, operates more than 200 stores outside of the United States. One Hour Martinizing, the world's largest dry cleaning franchise, operates almost 200 franchises outside of North America. And World Gym International is living up to its name as it adds fitness centres around the world.

The brand name and its familiar and reliable service or product is what hooks people. For example, before selling Mail Boxes Etc. (MBE) to UPS, you could find Mail Boxes Etc. in any city you visited, and more likely more than one. You knew what services would be offered and had a good idea of the prices for those services. If you needed to mail a package, would you be more likely to look for Mail Boxes Etc., or stop by a local store that mailed packages with a name you didn't know? Most people would go to a store with a name they knew because they trusted the service. That's the power of brand identification and not just in the United States. MBE had a thousand stores in other countries.

A franchise's brand is a very valuable asset. Franchisors know that customers will decide whether or not they want to walk into a store in the franchise system or use the services of a franchisee based on the reputation of the brand name. Unless you happen to be a personal friend of the person who owned Mail Boxes Etc., you probably had no idea who the owner was and probably didn't care. You just wanted to go to a place that you knew could be trusted to mail a package for you and that you knew would be in there the next day or next week to help you track the package if it got lost.

Remember that although franchise establishments are independently owned and operated, they still maintain the high standards of the franchisor and the uniformity that contributes to brand recognition and reliability. That's why a tasty treat at a Mrs. Field's in Maine will be just as tasty at a Mrs. Field's in Arizona - or in another part of the world.

A franchisor's advertising and marketing efforts benefit the franchisee as well. After you choose your franchise and become part of a system, you should be able to depend on the franchisor to continue advertising and marketing that brand so that you won't have to. That ongoing advertising and marketing will continue to bring new customers into your door.

Not all franchises have national name recognition, though. You may decide to get in on the ground floor of a franchise that still needs to build its brand. That's especially true if you have only a small stash of cash to invest. The large, well-known franchises are usually bought only by a group of investors, or individuals who have a higher net worth, or someone who already owns and runs at least one other unit in the franchise.

If you find any franchise opportunities that interests you but is not name brands you recognize, there's a good chance most people won't recognize that brand names either. That doesn't mean it isn't a good franchise opportunity, but you do need to be sure you understand what the franchisor will do in your community to help you build the brand, as well as what the franchisor is already doing to build a national brand name and reputation.
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