There are many dictionary definitions of ‘togetherness’, none of which seem to relate to a franchise environment.
Not surprising perhaps as we have only recently created a franchise that fully embraces all aspects of togetherness.
Franchising has a long and very credible history. Fast Food still dominates the industry in terms of units and operational size. Real Estate and Fitness are also in the top category when it comes to size and maturity.
The little known fact is that there are well over 4,000 fully functioning franchise brand opportunities in North America, and they range over a veritable plethora of industries, both manufacturing and service; both retail and wholesale; both home based and store front, and so on. For an individual looking for a franchise opportunity, the scope is almost endless – and if you set out to explore them all, you would never get around to actually owning one.
In a typical franchise environment, a franchise is awarded to the applicant, and then follows a training program to get the new franchisee in a mode ready to open their business. Training will also take many different forms and differing time periods. However, once training is complete the franchisee is off to their territory to get things moving. Most franchisors will have a mechanism to stay in touch, and offer help and advice along the way. They may also be a supplier of goods or materials to their franchisee and, as such, will be even more motivated to keep the franchise focused and busy.
The franchisee, however, is basically left to their own devices, within the confines of the franchise agreement, to run their own business. The franchisor is not involved on a day-to-day basis. The franchisor may in fact be a competitor, with corporate units in the marketplace competing with their franchisees.
Where is the togetherness in this relationship? It’s not easy to see – and hence the introduction of a franchise that is geared exclusively towards togetherness.
The Interface Financial Group has been in business for 44 years, and franchising their concept for over 20 of those years. Recently they took their established and proven franchise through a process to add value for the franchisees, and create a much stronger franchisee-franchisor bond. The result was their re-branded franchise – IFG 50/50.
From a startup point of view there are some elements that you find in any franchise start-up program i.e. training which, in the case of IFG, is split between their corporate offices and training center, and the franchisee’s location. There is an official Operations manual – as with virtually every franchise – and the usual branding guidelines, and a mature coaching and mentoring program.
Where things start to take on a different look, is when it comes to the day-to-day operations of the franchise. The IFG 50/50 franchise falls into the financial service category, and IFG provides a cash flow acceleration service for their business clients. They achieve this through a simple invoice purchase mechanism that turn an invoice due in say 30 days’ time, into instant cash.
There are two main components to each transaction that IFG undertakes: There is due diligence and funding, where IFG employs the ‘togetherness’ approach for both. Due diligence is the getting started process with a client – we need to know exactly who we are going to work with, and this involves a personal site visit to the prospective client as well as exhaustive ‘checking’ of the company background etc. Interface takes the approach that as a franchisor they are best equipped to handle the paperwork – 44 years of experience – while the franchisee is the best person to handle the site visit and the ‘people’ part of the program. With each doing a portion of the due diligence, it gets completed very quickly and very efficiently.
Once done, the transaction can move on to the funding stage – in other words, how we actually buy the invoice from the client. Once again this is done as a joint approach – franchisee and franchisor each contributing a set portion. By working in tandem, the risk and capital requirement are shared and no one is taking the full exposure in any transaction. With IFG 50/50, the franchisor goes on to be responsible for ‘papering’ the transaction and managing it through to maturity – no paperwork for the franchisee.
Working together with this approach enables franchisees to enjoy a large element of comfort knowing that always the franchisor is working alongside them with a financial involvement in each transaction. Likewise, for the franchisor there is comfort in knowing that their franchise has a personal and ongoing relationship with the IFG client.
IFG 50/50 franchisees can now enjoy the ‘togetherness’ aspect inasmuch as transactions are funded in days rather than weeks – the paperwork burden has disappeared and their returns on working capital employed are well above-average.
Togetherness really works in the IFG work-smart environment.