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Choosing a Franchise: Quality Control

By: Bill Bradley

 

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McDonald’s is the quintessential franchise example for many reasons, but one of the most important has to be the concept of standardization. Travelers could be sure of what they were getting at McDonald’s, so the sight of the Golden Arches during a long road trip could be a relief.

 
One of the keys to a successful franchise is that customers can go between locations and not realize that each franchise is owned and operated by a different person. They get the same products and customer service they know and like no matter where they are in the franchise system. Quality control for products and service is what keeps a franchise consistent regardless of location and should be one of the things you look for in a strong franchise system.
 
On the other hand, franchisees sometimes complain about quality control systems that put so many constraints on franchisees that it interferes with their success. How can you get the good things from QC and not the bad things? There are a few indicators to watch for when you’re learning more about franchises.
 
Quality Control Is Built In
 
If you eat at a McDonald’s in Oklahoma, you expect your burger to look and taste the same as a burger at a McDonald’s in Oregon. In the process of assembling burgers at each McDonald’s location, there are built-in quality control guides in the process that teach the employees how to make the burger the McDonald’s way—not how they think is best. Employees are taught during training and reminded throughout their entire workday how to do things the way the franchisor intends, in order to keep the product the same. This kind of built-in quality control helps franchisees ensure they’re doing the same thing regardless of their location.
 
When you’re looking into a franchise system, find out what kind of training is provided to franchisees before opening, during opening, and even after opening. It’s natural for people to get lazy at times, even when they have the best intentions, and employees may often require refreshers throughout the course of their work. Does the franchisor do a good job of always keeping their franchisees in line with the brand? What sorts of processes are in place to keep franchises up to date and on-brand? These questions can help you find out how the franchisor will help you keep your franchise on target.
 
Existing Franchisees See the Value
 
Franchisees know best how well quality control is working to keep their franchises cohesive with the brand. If a franchisee feels like quality control is a burden, they’re likely to be vocal about it when you ask, but you may need to dig deeper to ensure that it’s a valid complaint. Not everyone who signs up for franchising likes to have a “big brother” looking over their shoulder to make sure they’re doing things the right way, and that can cause conflict with franchisors. Ask the franchisee questions about how they see their business and how they view success to know whether franchising was a good fit for them. Be sure to also ask franchisees how the processes have helped them ensure the brand is the same as well as how easy it is to stay on track.
 
Keeping things the same is important to franchises but shouldn’t be such a burden that it makes doing business difficult. Systems should make it easier to stick with great quality and keep the value of the brand you’re buying into high.
 
This article was originally published by America’s Best Franchises
Published: May 14, 2014
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Bill Bradley

Bill Bradley is founding member and CEO of America’s Best Franchises, LLC.  Bill founded three financial services firms, Ocean Shores Ventures, Denali International and William Bradley Enterprises. In addition, to launching America’s Best Franchises in 2005, Bill orchestrated approximately 20 private equity transactions in excess of $31 million, and launched five specific purpose private equity partnerships.

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