All4Women Entrepreneurs is a monthly feature where we put the spotlight on amazing female entrepreneurs starting businesses in South Africa. This month we spoke to Liz Senior (who started kids development progamme, Clamber Club) to find out her top tips for building a franchise.
When considering whether to franchise your business, there are many things to think about. And while the business of business is to generate money, Clamber Club founder Liz Senior says there is more to franchising than just finding people with enough money. “Your brand is very important and you need to protect your brand to continue to have a successful business,” says Liz. And she should know – having built a business that supports 65 franchises!
1. Make sure you share the same values
Although Clamber Club has branched out to provide actual physical products to its clients, the main business of Clamber Club is to provide a service and an experience.
For Liz, the decision to study occupational therapy and later to open Clamber Club was based on a passion for child development and wanting to help parents give children the best chances at success and happiness. It is important that franchisees express the same values and passion for how they deliver the Clamber Club services.
“The Clamber Club franchises that do the best are always the ones with the most passion and enthusiasm, it translates into more business and a greater experience for the children and their parents,” says Liz.
2. Maintain communication
Selling a franchise isn’t the end of the road for the main business – it entails training, sharing ideas and maintaining constant contact to make sure your business goals are always aligned.
“Sometimes a Clamber Club instructor or franchise owner will come up with great new ideas or a different perspective we can incorporate into our lessons. Other times they have challenges they need to overcome. I always appreciate it when we can communicate and find new strategies to share across our brand,” says Liz.
In understanding that the success of a franchise is a win for your brand, maintaining communication and working as a team of franchises rather than separate satellites bearing the same name is essential.
3. Franchisors need to do their part
Franchises must be able to operate without supervision or constant input. This can only happen when the staff and the owner of the franchise are properly trained and equipped to replicate the operations of the original business.
The biggest cost in opening a Clamber Club franchise is the equipment needed. “As part of our training, we show franchise owners how to use the equipment in multiple ways and for multiple activities, which reduces costs. Our training is comprehensive and also includes instructional videos and examples of lessons. We also maintain consistent communication and support,” says Liz.
4. Keep an open mind and be willing to learn and share
Liz is a qualified occupational therapist with years of practical experience, making her an expert in her field, however, she says she is always open to suggestions from her team and franchise owners.
“The more you work, the more you learn. You don’t have to be a therapist to find new ways of teaching and offer different perspectives on the planned lesson. Talking to instructors and franchise owners and hearing their ideas and their experiences contributes to our shared knowledge and the lessons and activities we give to the children.”
5. Money isn’t everything
Having the money to buy into a franchise and pay for the necessary equipment is important, but it’s not the only consideration a franchisor should make before allowing you to buy into their brand.
“I always want to know if a person is willing to do the work before they buy a franchise. It isn’t easy when you’re running your own business; working with children requires patience and a genuine passion. After the lessons, there is still the business side of things. You can only find the time to do it all and do it right if you are passionate about what you are doing,” advises Liz.