A Brand is Not a Business Degree
Buying into a brand doesn’t give you franchising business know-how. Luckily best-selling author Aicha Bascaro believes in working from the ground up.
With over 25 years of food industry experience, Aicha climbed the franchising ranks from pizza delivery driver to Area Supervisor, to Franchise Consultant, Director, and Brand Vice President.
Now an independent consultant and author of several best-selling books, Aicha dedicates her time to coaching restaurant leaders around the world on the business management practices they need to execute on the potential of their franchise brand.
The Biggest Secret in Franchising
You’ve occupied so many different positions and perspectives within the food industry—where do you think the rubber truly meets the road?
This is the biggest secret in franchising: the franchisor does not provide everything you need to be successful.
When you buy a franchise you’re buying a brand, which involves a proven product or service, an image, a national marketing or regional marketing strategy, and how to duplicate that brand over and over.
You’re not getting a business degree. You’re not getting how to interview, hire, and inspire your team. You’re not getting into the nitty-gritty of how to manage your costs and manage your waste and your cash. You’re not getting how to create and execute on a local store marketing plan that actually increases sales.
That’s a business degree and for that you have to go to college.
Bootstrapping and Franchising
Do you think that franchisors should be doing more?
Honestly, it’s not really the franchisor’s responsibility to teach people how to manage a business. They’re selling you a proven brand; what you do with it is your responsibility.
Once franchisors start advising on those things, they become liable. Additionally, the investment it would require to not just build that material, but then also teach it would eat up the income they get from their royalties.
It’s difficult enough just to teach someone how to make a hamburger the same way in 3,000 locations. The amount of training, auditing, and supervision required from the brand just to make that happen is enormous.
Can you imagine if the franchisor had to teach people how to interview?
I don’t blame the franchisor’s for staying away from that. However, that lack of knowledge is a real obstacle for many people.
A Struggle for a Franchise of Any Size
What’s the biggest stumbling block you see for these emerging brands?
They don’t know what they don’t know. Many people think having a great product and brand will make them successful franchisors, but it’s not enough.
Of all the systems that are necessary to have in place, developing a system for selecting your franchisees is one of the most critical. This is also the biggest problem the big franchisor’s have. But emerging brands are often so focused on selling franchises that they’re not considering the short and long-term impact that selling to the wrong franchisee could have on their brand.
The big boys obviously get that, which is why they put so much effort into selecting the right people.
Where do you come in?
I consider myself a franchisee advocate. I’m happy to work with the franchisors and help them implement these systems, but it’s really the people in the trenches that need help—even if you’re with the big boys.
That’s why I made a conscious decision to focus my support on the franchisees. There’s so much need out there.
What are some of the biggest changes you’ve seen in the franchise industry over the course of your career?
15 or 20 years ago the number of big franchise brands in the food industry were limited. Now that franchising has grown as a great model for business ownership, a successful brand doesn’t need to be two or three thousand units. It could be a hundred units. This gives a lot of people the opportunity to get into franchising.