from Bill Redfern, CEO and founder, A Buyer’s Choice Home Inspections and iCare Intelligent Home Care Solutions.
International expansion is the natural next step for franchisors looking to broaden their reach.
But before you pack your bags and cross the ocean, there are many factors that must be taken into consideration. Every street in every city in every country on every continent in the world has homes of some kind – and these homes house families who need a safe and reliable place to rest their heads at night. That’s what A Buyer’s Choice is all about – making sure that homes are in fine condition to be inhabited.
But it’s not as easy as simply selling your franchise concept to someone in a different country. There are hundreds of considerations to be made before you take this huge step, and they all boil down to one word: research.
Get on the Same Page
The chances of a Canadian location of your Canada-based franchise looking the same as a location in the Middle East are low. The basic structure of your business can be the same, but it’s important to tailor your concept to the idiosyncrasies of different cultures.
Start your international journey with extensive research and exploratory travel. We outsource and hire market research firms to conduct research in the countries in which we’re interested in growing. We want to have a good handle on the market before we even consider opening businesses there. We also connect with real estate industry professionals and specialists across the globe who can give lots of information on the real estate climate, and, in turn, give you an idea of what it’s going to take to find property for a franchisee in that market.
Face Your Hurdles Head-On
It’s not easy to open a business in a country where you don’t even speak the language. Hire translators to ensure that your presentations are being communicated properly in different cultures. We conduct personal interviews with the translators we hire to build the proper business relationships and to ensure they understand our business concept and model – after all, they’re the people who will be communicating our wants and needs with interested parties. It’s not always smooth sailing, either.
For example, the word “inspector” has a very negative stigma in ex-Communist countries. So, we had to make a concession and change our name in those areas from “A Buyer’s Choice Home Inspections” to “A Buyer’s Choice Home Experts.”
Face it – miscommunication is going to happen. A good attitude can overcome any potential awkwardness so we can learn from our mistakes moving forward. Additionally, some countries don’t have the healthiest franchise climate.
Market research can help you determine which economies are more receptive to your franchise model. We have found that Australasia is more franchising friendly, and smaller countries are more independent.
Consider Local Customs
North Americans tend to have a very fastpaced business mindset. We’re plugged in 24/7 and we’re straightforward, which can rub some people the wrong way – after all, many cultures operate differently. The translators we hire also clue us in on these customs so they can take our message and convey it in a respectful, appropriate manner.
We always make sure to ask a lot of questions to uncover different barriers in this area. For example, we have found that sometimes, people in different countries take a year to make a decision. We try not to step on their toes by establishing their local customs and ways of communication. We have found that some cultures are more relationshipdriven and friendly, while others are extremely independent.
The bottom line is this: research, research, research. You’ll never know if your business can truly succeed in a completely different market if you’re not willing to put the time and resources into market research and exploration. The home inspection industry largely didn’t exist outside North America before we expanded – with the language barriers and cultural differences, it can be a challenge to initially explain our concept to different markets, but it has been incredibly rewarding to see different parts of the world embrace the A Buyer’s Choice concept so readily.
Bill Redfern is the CEO and founder of A Buyer’s Choice Home Inspections and iCare – Intelligent Home Care Solutions. Based in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Bill and his team are passionate about making the entrepreneurial journey accessible to qualified candidates all over the world. ABCHI is North America’s fastest-growing home inspection business meeting the huge demand for home inspections. Focused on developing and maintaining local, trust-based relationships with its customers, ABCHI is creating a home inspection business unlike any other. Currently, there are more than 150 ABCHI offices in North America with dozens more internationally.
For more information, visit www.abuyerschoice.com