Where Freedom & Franchise Meet: What Is This Business Model Anyway?

Where Freedom & Franchise Meet: What Is This Business Model Anyway?

the_ugly_side_of_traditional_franchisingNew Series Explores Great Harvest's Business Model

This is the first in a three part series on the Freedom Franchise. It is focused on the overall concept of this unique business model. The second piece is authored by our Chief Marketing Officer and will offer thoughts on how to market a national brand without a true national footprint. Finally, I will come back for part three and discuss why this business model is best for so many small business owners.

Freedom and Franchise

Freedom Franchise. Or Freedom. Franchise. Two separate words with individual meanings. I am not Webster so I am not going to define them. Rather I will put them in context. What is Freedom in a small business sense? That means you get to make your own decisions. Be the boss. Set your product line. Hire your team. Be in charge in every sense of the word. On the other hand, what is a Franchise? Quite the opposite. You buy a proven system and execute the model as directed from on high.

Who Said it Must Be Either / Or?

Honestly, both concepts have merit and each, in its own right, is good for different kinds of people. Freedom models are very important for people with that independent streak where absolutely no one is the boss of them. Franchises are great for people that need to be given a playbook with the entire game already called for them and all they have to do is execute. But, in reality those extremes are not as common as is a personality with a combination of the two. And that is where the Freedom Franchise comes in.

There is a thought that freedom is like throwing darts and franchising is following a system. The Freedom Franchise is systematically throwing darts. The question is always, “Which darts do I throw and how do I aim?”


Determining Freedom's Business Boundaries

The way I make those decisions is I start with the fact that the franchise is a proven business model. What are the cornerstones of that model that I shouldn’t touch? Because if you pull out the foundation, you no longer have a proven business model. I have blogged about this before, but I think the things that touch the public should be local decisions while fundamental systems should be built for you so that you can spend your valuable time doing the things that impact your customers.

Freedom's Purview

Choosing your colors, setting your hours, interacting with your community so that you become your neighborhood’s bread store. Those are all things that only you should choose.

Franchise's Domain

Systems that are back of the house should be done for you. Pricing. POS. Inventory management. Labor management. Those are all systems that the franchise should provide for you because they are places where purchasing power should make them more affordable, where the time to develop or source them on your own is time that could be better spent working on the things that impact your customers, and where common formatting can lead to valuable sharing of data.

untether_yourself_freedom_franchise_is_best_of_bothThe Border-Huggers

There are three things I have left off of both lists so let me address them individually. Let’s start with your menu. This is absolutely something that should be accounted for locally. That said, I believe that this occurs over time. At first, the menu should be full of tried-and-true products that generally sell well and can have crew training dialed in during the initial phase of training.

The Evolution of a Menu

I recently blogged about how to constantly review your menu to change out low sellers. This type of triage is essential in any business and should be done vigorously in a new store to dial in what really works. But at first, quality of training and lack of local history indicate to me that a tested menu should be used at first.

A Hybrid Approach to Layout

Another area for local decisions is the store layout. I think this is a hybrid. Much of this should be subject to local decisions. Things such as colors and fixtures. But, the actual layout should have considerable input from the franchise system to take advantage of the collective knowledge about how to most efficiently run the operation as well as maximize sales.

An Exception for Advertising

Lastly, advertising is always an interesting point for discussion. And it will be addressed in depth in the second blog in this three part series. As a preview, I can say that advertising should be local in a system such as Great Harvest that is national but without a dense enough footprint to justify national advertising. But it should be done using the collective expertise of the franchise and system. There are things that work and better ways to do things. These helpful hints should be taken advantage of and used to maximize the impact of your local efforts.

Stay tuned for the next posts in this series, and please join in the discussion in the comments or via social media; I'd love to know your thoughts and questions.

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Image Credits: © Can Stock Photo / Anke / doodershop

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