BY BILL BRADLEY, Founder/CEO, America’s Best Franchises
February 4, 2013
If your neighborhood has hopped on the buy-local bandwagon, does that make it a bad time for you to think about investing in a franchise business?
Not necessarily. Some national franchises are never viewed by customers as a local business, even though a local franchisee owns them. It’s hard to make a McDonald’s seem local, for example. Other franchises can be easy to position as a local business.
A regional company may be strongly associated with your region – enough that you can be perceived as “home folks” with a franchise. Others may be new enough in your area that your customers won’t even realize you’re part of a chain. As part of your decision-making process, ask around to discover the local impression of the franchise opportunity you’re thinking about.
There are ways, however, that almost every franchise can cash in on the “keep it local” movement. Consider these possibilities if a strong “Buy Local” movement is making you think twice about investing in a franchise:
- Participate in the local economy – While your franchise probably won’t have complete control over which suppliers to use, many franchises hire local workers and participate in local events. Find out whether you’ll be free to take part in group sidewalk sales or mallwide events, for example. If you’ll have the flexibility to work with other local businesses, you can get all the points for doing so.
- Do well by doing good. Can you sponsor a local festival or collect for a local food bank? The two-fold approach of giving back to the local community while creating links to other local businesses can do wonders to help potential customers remember not only your franchise but its dedication to what they care about.
- Decor Franchises may have requirements for the decor and layout of a storefront or restaurant, but adding as many local touches as your franchisor will allow can help to remind customers of your franchises involvement in the community. Showcase photos of sports teams you’ve sponsored or photos of the surrounding area if it fits in with the decor. Educational franchises can spotlight local achievers for students to admire, and restaurants can frame pictures of local celebrities.
- Don’t neglect networking – Say the franchise you’re considering seems to give you very little leeway, or you’re determined to gain the benefits of investing in a major national name. Your personal presence in the local business community as the owner of “the local Supercuts” or “the local Little Caesar’s” can still give you that local edge if you’re diligent about your involvement.Ask about these possibilities as part of your information-gathering as you decide which franchise opportunity is right for you. Understanding both the franchise opportunity you have in mind and the local market you’re bringing the business into will help you ensure that you choose the right opportunity for you.