The secrets of a growing franchise

Rachel Ray is founder of domestic cleaning franchise Bright & Beautiful, and is now recruiting between 10-20 new employees each month. She shares her franchise advice with SmallBusiness.co.uk.

This year my business is celebrating reaching a £1.5 million turnover mark, just five years after I spotted a real gap in the market for an ethical, professional, family and eco-friendly homecare business, designed for busy people.

Since then I have enabled 30 women to start their own business and to have generated 130 jobs for other women, most of which are ‘family friendly’ hours. 

Find a gap in the market

Don’t copy what others are doing, make it unique. Make sure there is a proven and sustainable demand for the product –make sure it’s not a fad! When I was researching different business opportunities, I began to see that there was a real gap in the market for an ethical, professional, family and eco-friendly homecare business, designed for busy people.

There were also a lot of news stories around at that time about the growing number of people using domestic help because more and more mums were having to go back to work during the recession, people were working longer hours etc. Know your business model and how all the numbers stack up – it needs to create a profit for each franchisee and for you.

I started off running one cleaning team, which meant that I could really get under the skin of what I wanted Bright & Beautiful to do and to stand for. It also meant that I’d been there and done it and knew all the potential pitfalls that franchisees might face.

Build a robust training and support team

You will now be in the business of helping others to grow their businesses not just growing your own. From the outset I ran the company with a view to franchising the model, so I was constantly looking out for the best ways to do things, writing practical guides to looking after a client’s home, finding the best marketing tools to use etc – all things that I could share with franchisees as they came on board.

Invest in your brand

You must trademark your logo and ensure that your franchisees have a strong brand with great marketing and PR. My vision for what I wanted Bright & Beautiful to do has been part and parcel of our brand from the very beginning, from our bright pink uniforms to a flexible service.

We have a strong company ethos – to support and empower women; clients who need their homes managed; franchise owners who have a business which can earn a great income but fit within school hours; the team who have fair employment rights with a great working environment and impoverished families that we sponsor overseas through charities such as Change 4 Change and Compassion International.

This has helped us hugely in creating real stand out from many other cleaning and franchise companies and it’s still right at the heart of what we do. Many of the franchisees and clients we attract say that this really struck a chord with them, which led to them picking up the phone to us.

Never stop learning

During my time in franchising I have sought out a couple of mentors, specifically looking for people who have done what I wish to do already, or who have expertise in specific areas such as marketing or sales. I also read and research best practice in areas such as employment law or search engine optimisation.

Develop systems to clearly translate your business practices into something that new franchisees can learn and duplicate – their success will be your success. Your systems need to be well-structured and detailed enough so that nothing is missing.

It’s easy to forget something that seems obvious to you, so do test your systems and operations manuals really well.

Identify the qualities of an ideal franchisee and ensure you are selective about who you recruit. You soon learn to trust your instincts and to listen to them!

Follow ethical franchising practices…

…as advocated by the British Franchise Association. Choose a reputable franchise solicitor and adviser so that you are sure your model follows the BFA standards. Run a pilot franchise operation independent of your office, to prove the franchise model and to become the lead franchise for others to aspire to. It can be a bit like watching one of your children leave home, watching your ‘baby’ do things independently but it is a great exercise for you both.

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