I can hardly turn round these days without a blog post smacking me in the head.
This one flags a peril of franchising.
As I’ve never owned a franchise, I’m really hoping you can help us join the dots.
I’d read about a gourmet place that had exploded from 1 to 100 outlets.
One outlet was a short stroll away.
With franchises costing $400K, I expected great things.
When we arrived, the counter guy raised a warning hand: there was a register crisis.
At last he took our order.
We asked for a delivered pizza which, given the 20-minute wait, we’d easily beat home.
(We didn’t want to eat in the outlet, or spill it on ourselves as we walked.)
To our delight, the order was much cheaper than our usual pizza place.
The guy asked our address.
Abbotsford is one of Melbourne’s smallest, least known suburbs.
But it is next to Collingwood, the suburb in which we stood.
The guy looked nervous. He strode to a coloured wall map, searched intently and returned.
‘I’m sorry; we can’t deliver your pizza.’
‘Abbotsford is covered by our Richmond outlet.’
I knew that wherever the Richmond outlet was, it was further from our home than this one. I’ve since looked it up: it’s thrice the distance.
‘This is our first time here; can’t you look after us?’
‘Sorry. You can wait for take-away, but we can’t deliver it.’
It was a territory thing.
Walking home hungry, I recalled a time when I was much younger (and drunker).
I’d convinced two friends to join my quest to get the McDonald’s drive-through to recognise a ‘deemed’ car.
We shuffled along the asphalt making engine, horn and brake noises.
The window attendant was unmoved.
‘I’m sorry; I can’t serve you. It’s cars only here.’
‘Yes. We are a deemed car.’
‘Sorry. Cars only.’
‘We know. But for the purposes of this transaction, we are a car.’
‘No you’re not.’
‘Beep beep! Vroom vroom! Screeek!’
‘You’re still not a car.’
Michael E. Gerber says you should build a business to be run by morons with a manual.
[Note: As you’ll see from our discussion below, this wasn’t an actual quote. Michael has been kind enough to provide the correct one via Twitter: ‘build your system so "novices" could use it to produce professional results.’ Many thanks Michael!]
Seth Godin decries this as a race to the bottom (and the furthest thing from ‘art’).
I think guidelines are good.
But staff need the authority, autonomy and imagination to bend them if they’re to win, delight and keep customers. (Just like that amazing grocer.)
Most franchises provide rules and training.
After our pizza parlay, I wonder if it’s worth the substantial investment.
Fortunately, there’s no franchise on wisdom.
So please share yours with us!