Multi-unit franchise owners and experts share reasons why and how owning more than one location is worth all the effort
It would be understandable if you imagined yourself at the top of a multi-unit franchise empire of your own construction, even early in your investigations into the ownership of a single franchise location. After all, from our youth, we begin to find ourselves “lit-up” by particular things and into those things, we pour our souls and we dream BIG. What kid who picks up a basketball and scores from a long-range “swoosh” in a neighborhood park doesn’t imagine being in a professional arena someday, using his own skilled hands to put the ball in the basket and be the cause of the frenzied crowd and the heart-thumping victory? Once we find what we really love to do, it is natural to imagine the most grand, expansive ways we can take it, make it our own and drive it up to levels reached only by the hungriest, most resourceful and most dedicated professionals.
So, go on to imagine a local map dotted with franchise opportunities that bear your initials and healthy growth because if you find the right franchisor and pour your soul into using their proven system, support and training to make a winning first location, there is nothing to stop you from joining the ranks of those with multi-unit franchise empires all their own.
Some of the most admirable entrepreneurs operate multiple franchise locations, using their natural and learned abilities to make smart business decisions, put together loyal, hard-working teams and intelligently partner with their franchisor in order to tend to the health of their entire operation. They are models on which new franchisees can look to for motivation and guidance, but they didn’t get there without a square one, like everyone else. They were once hopeful and eager, but cautious as they investigated franchising opportunities.
Many franchisors that may have looked good on paper wound up crossed off their discriminating lists because they knew to look for specific advantages and they not settle for less; or perhaps their visits with active franchisees told a tale of caution that contradicted the rosy pitch given by corporate representatives. The most successful multi-unit franchisors were unforgivingly picky and aligned themselves with industry-leading franchisors upon which they could lay down a solid foundation for the great legacy they intended to create as business owners.
“Franchisees that have achieved success in their single unit franchise operation should consider opening additional units and taking advantage of the economies of scale,” says Bob Heimbuch, Regional Vice President for Minuteman Press International in the Maryland/Virginia Region. Bob continues, “Multi-unit franchise operations benefit from increased purchasing power, production consolidation, increased staff resources and combined marketing efforts. Taking into account that the franchisee has already gone through their learning curve with their first location, opening a second location seems like a natural step in building their franchise operation and ultimately the possibility of increasing their personal income,”
Be wary of franchisors from the fad segment of the model. Franchise fads, scams and rip-offs can be dressed up as if they are wise investments and hasty, vulnerable entrepreneurs are the ones who pay the price, so avoiding them is primary. For instance, a prime benefit of a business services industry franchise opportunity is that they provide products and services that become the source for core needs that will never fall out of favor as a fad or be terribly impacted by the ebb and flow of the economy. When you choose to buy a franchise that deals in needs instead of wants, you also buy a sort of insurance, a pact with a customer base who will come back to you with repeat business once you earn and work to keep their trust, a most solid foundation for future growth.
It is true that the addition of franchise locations challenges your management skills with little comparison, but done well, the rewards are equal or greater to the challenge. Now that you have a solid foundation and consistent support from your franchisor with their proven system and technologies working at full capacity in what is a noteworthy first franchise, you can grow, scale and expand your empire. You will encounter times of struggle, have concerns and make some mistakes, but you will persevere and as you are not on your own, but firmly in the partnership afforded by franchising, you can emerge as the head of an enviable multi-unit franchise empire.
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Pam Joles, multi-unit franchise owner of International Minute Press in Gastonia and Charlotte, NC, discusses a key benefit of building a franchise empire:
“A key benefit of owning two or more franchise locations is the chance to realize higher revenue, which could potentially translate into higher profits. The benefits come from 3 sources:
- more overall volume
- more efficient production (gang run jobs)
- equipment savings (you don’t need every piece of equipment in all locations)
An added benefit is that you can move staff around to fill in for areas of heavy work flow in different departments.”
Keith Miller is a successful multi-unit Minuteman Press franchise owner, which started as he made his way to the United States from South Africa to investigate business opportunities. He discovered business to business industry leader, Minuteman Press International to be the perfect vehicle by which his glorious ride to the heights of franchise ownership was assured. In Keith’s own words, “My journey of living the ‘American Dream’ began in 1999 when I moved from Johannesburg, South Africa to Baltimore, Maryland. I arrived in the United States without any business connections and a very limited social network. Not knowing American business practices and having very few contacts to draw experience, the quest for a business began and I decided to follow the franchise route.”
Keith adds, “I was aware of the Minuteman Press brand from my hometown in South Africa. I chose franchising since it allows for someone with business acumen to be in business for themselves, while receiving the training and support necessary to be successful. A Minuteman Press franchise was for sale in Baltimore, just south of Pikesville. Even though I had no print experience and no business network in the Baltimore area, I saw an opportunity. With a strong work ethic, the determination to implement stringent business principles and the resolve to expand my limited connections, so began what has now become an award-winning, multi-unit franchise, successful business venture.”
In spite of challenges and demands inherent to making something truly great from a strong start in business, Keith Miller intelligently and unwaveringly defined leadership for his team and grew his business operation to the point at which his Minuteman Press franchises are now staples within their various communities. Keith notes, “In 16 short years, we have grown the business from a single franchise store to 4 locations throughout Greater Maryland, and have been recognized as one of the largest Minuteman Press franchises worldwide.”
With growth comes risk and greater demand, but it is worth it
If you are enjoying the ownership of a single franchise that is now running with a strong customer base, repeat business and referrals enough that it defines success, it is natural to consider investing in another location. Still, the addition is not for the faint of heart as you realize the expansion assumes greater risk with greater demands to manage. You must invest more time and money into your infrastructure if you want to make it work. This is a primary reason to find yourself a franchisor that offers a sweet royalty cap, so you can have more money to put back into the development of your operation. It will require sacrifice in order to reap the rewards and it certainly won’t be easy, but the combination of your success with your initial franchise, the depth of support from your franchisor and your willingness to use discipline and determination are your strengths going forward.
With a solid initial franchise in place to serve as part of your foundation, the benefits of multi-unit franchising are immense.
“There are many benefits of multi-unit franchising, but I must warn my fellow entrepreneurs to not rush into it blindly,” adds Keith Miller. “Obviously, you are passionate about your business and want to expand, but it’s better to have one fully-functional store than two or three ‘broken’ stores. Opening up new storefronts takes time, strategic planning, marketing support, and most importantly, an experienced and capable team. As you can’t physically be in multiple places at one time, you’ll need to rely on a trusted team that knows the business from the bottom-up and that can, in your physical absence, make necessary business executive decisions.”
Keith encourages capable franchisees to look at the “up-sides” of growing beyond their initial franchise endeavor, saying, “The desire to replicate your past successes in a new location becomes a driving force. Advertising and marketing is more cost-effective. Production efficiency increases and you’ll see a greatly improved economy of scale. Staffing can actually become easier as well. Given that most multi-unit franchises are geographically friendly, a team member that calls out sick or has an emergency can be covered by a member of another location. In addition, you’re also able to develop a deeper relationship with the community when you have a physical storefront in the area.”
Developing deeper roots within the community you serve helps ensure the health of your expansion through fortifying your franchise with loyal customers. From there, you could be afforded the chance to plan grand openings of additional franchise locations in the future, with each one furthering your own empire and the chance at lasting, lucrative growth.
Minuteman Press International is a business service franchise that is rated #1 in category by Entrepreneur for 13 years in a row and 24 times overall, including 2016. We are the modern version of the printing industry, providing high quality products and services for businesses that go way beyond just ink on paper. Today our stores produce promotional products, custom apparel, large format printing (banners and posters), signs, and much more.
Learn more about Minuteman Press design, marketing, and printing franchise opportunities by visiting our website at www.minutemanpressfranchise.com