South African businesses have been thrown into turmoil by the pandemic. But with the rollout of the coronavirus vaccine this year, we are feeling more optimistic that we will weather this turbulent time and finally be able to think about moving beyond it.

Like other businesses, restaurant owners are looking for growth opportunities by expanding to new locations. And franchising allows restaurant owners to grow their brand and their profits.

So what are the challenges? In a recent article on Bizcommunity, Morne Cronje, head of franchising at FNB Commercial, had some advice for growing a franchise network beyond Covid-19.

  • Have a clear business model for franchisees, this will help them to understand your vision and put business strategies into practice, says Cronje. The last year has highlighted the fact that strategies might need to change to stay relevant. Ensure you have buy-in from stakeholders on your business model and that the communication channel is open for ideas to be shared.
  • Get a competitive market share and ensure, even if there is already competition in the areas you want to expand to, that you differentiate your business. Consumers are currently financially stressed so Cronje adds that you might have to wait longer to achieve your economic goals.
  • Build a strong brand identity so that your business is easily recognisable in the market. It’s a well-known fact that companies with strong brand identities are more likely to succeed.
  • Balance your local and national footprint to successfully grow your franchise network. Customers respond to the culture and identity of the brand so it’s essential to stay in touch with local areas even when your aim is to grow your national footprint.

Why now is a good time

Recessions are often a boom time for franchise sales. That’s because high rates of unemployment provide a fertile ground for franchising. Harsh as it may sound, it gives you resource leverage. The wave of closures leaves highly experienced employees contemplating becoming franchise owners. Even when closures level off, there won’t be enough jobs to fill for the people who need them. The solution is to create them – and these employees are in the perfect position to do so with their level of operational experience and local connections.

There’s also likely to be more restaurant space available at favourable terms, fuelling restaurant franchising sales. Unlike other industries in the restaurant sector, we can’t work from home. Restaurants still need space, even if the establishment offers a drive-through or uses a ghost kitchen with delivery. And thanks to the pandemic, there’s a great supply of it.

Success in this changing landscape still depends on having a franchisable concept that works well in the new world order and with forward-thinking management. The businesses that were in good shape going into lockdown and remained stable despite it will emerge stronger, and they will be in the best position to leverage the benefits of the future.

Be mindful of how your bottom line was affected in the past few months. Assess where you are today and how you will survive and thrive in a world where the rules may continue to shift.

Give your restaurant the ultimate boost by reading our informative guide, The Definitive 21st-century Restaurant Playbook and find out more about using PoS in your restaurant.

Author : Rudi Badenhorst