Managing Social Networking For Your Restaurant Franchise

Managing the social networking in your restaurant franchise requires skill and forethought. I recently helped a couple who had been in a large coffee franchise for more than 10 years to exit the system. They were one of the first franchisees to invest in this particular coffee franchise and had bought and sold numerous stores during that time. At the time of my meeting with them, they still had 4 stores and were looking to sell one and purchase
another in a downtown area

Over the years in this system and previously in other QSR franchise concepts they had become successful business people who enjoyed being in business and all the perks that went along with it.

Part of my brief  was to evaluate their stores along with the other stores in the region and give suggestions to the franchisor as to who met the criteria for further expansion. The result was somewhat surprising to the corporation –  this couple did not meet the criteria for expansion! Their franchise representative and other franchisees around them were not too surprised as they had been unhappy with their performance for quite some time. But the corporation saw them as almost “founding franchisees” and had treated them as somewhat of a protected species.

So what had happened to them? Like a lot of people who have been in business a long time, they were more in love with being “in business” than running the business. They loved being local celebs. They were members of the local Rotary Club, gave talks to schools and business organizations, she was the president of the local women-in-business group, they led charity drives etc, etc.

Networking and being involved with the local community is very important to building your business and every effort should be made to be seen as part of that community. What went wrong here is that they forgot the reason for being in all of these organizations in the first place…… their own business! As more and more of their time was taken up with the non money making activities the result was that their business suffered. Sales and cleanliness standards fell, costs rose and productivity and profit plummeted.

What had happened was that they had lost the passion for the business and had replaced that passion with a list of things and groups they thought would help grow that business. They actually thought they were doing the right thing. Their problem, apart from the fact that they needed to get out, was that they went too far with the social networking.

Join as many groups as you wish but there is no need to be the president, chairman or secretary unless you have the time to do it. I don’t know many food franchisees that have that sort of time.

So, what happened to the couple ?  Well good news, they listened to what was being said to them, gave up a few of their social/business commitments and went back to work in their business. It took a few months and a lot of hard work but they tightened up their store, got their business back along with some of the profits and were able to sell their remaining stores. They are currently taking a break before looking for another venture to keep their fires burning.

So why didn’t they rekindle the passion for their existing business? They were already tried and tested in this concept. Simple. Everything has a shelf life and for them coffee had reached that shelf life, it was time to move on. They had lasted over ten years in one concept where the average was three to five years. Once you lose the passion for a business it is time  to have that hard discussion with yourself and make a decision that will be best for you and the business in the long term.

RStevens

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