July 7, 2016
PLAYLive, the innovative gaming franchise I am a minority owner of, is rapidly approaching its third year. As any franchisor knows, launching a new franchise brings an oscillating journey filled with learning curves, small wins, and hard work.
Mainly, the process has brought a wealth of knowledge and experience that I want to share with other entrepreneurs embarking on a similar journey.
Here are the key lessons I’ve come away with reviewing my first three years as a co-franchisor:
As we grew, organization and systems became increasingly important. When we had two units, it was easy to remember when operators signed leases, anticipate timelines, and know when renewals were coming up. When we grew to 72, it was impossible to know that information off hand.
Implementing customer relationship management (CRM) software was essential. For a small operation like ours, investing in a robust system from the start wasn’t feasible. Once we scaled, we bit the bullet and brought in a strong CRM. Purchasing it as soon as we were able was important. Not doing so would have resulted in not having the proper tracking to ensure franchisee compliance with the franchise agreement and renewal time frames for leases and insurance.
Navigating tight real estate markets was one of the more unexpected turns of growing PLAYLive. Competitive and tight leasing markets added months to the timeline for opening units. Couple that with the challenge of finding buildings equipped for the 21st century proved that real estate was a bigger obstacle than anyone anticipated.
We ran into challenges such as:
The faster we were able to streamline the real estate process, creating robust initial checklists to evaluate potential properties and becoming familiar with the nuances of each market, the faster we were able to get units open. There were times when unexpected roadblocks would emerge. We worked with our franchisees to address them as quickly as possible, putting the unit back on track for an expedient open.
For a young franchise, the science behind allocating territories was a work in progress. We wanted to ensure that each franchisee had an adequate population to pull from to grow their business without the threat of another franchisee being located to close in proximity to an existing territory thus competing for the same customer base. While we collected data and measured the size of the population in areas franchisees were operating, we aired on the size of caution. Our assigned territories were likely larger than they will be in the future, but we are confident we have given franchisees territories with a sufficient population base to be successful.
While there were companies who help with territory mapping, their services were beyond the financial means of PLAYLive in the startup phase.
As more franchisees became operational, organic leads started to filter in and interest in PLAYLive grew. People resonated with PLAYLive, understanding the potential in other markets.
A picture is worth a thousand words. In the franchising world, experiencing a successful franchisee in operation far surpasses the impact any photo can create. For PLAYLive, it helped create momentum not only for selling other franchises but also for creating brand recognition in different regions of the country. Over time our aim is to have PLAYLive become synonymous with the video gaming experiences.
In the next three years, we would like to sell a minimum of another 100 units. Within that time frame almost all of our current franchise units will be operational, giving us momentum as a franchisor.
We are currently in the process of building out our team to handle current and future growth. They will help us focus our efforts on expanding into states in the Mid-West and Northeast.
While we will always be in the process of developing software, maintaining our intranet systems, and implementing systems, we are currently in the process of what will be one of the bigger system builds. Our goal is to make the entire process as efficient and streamlined as possible.
If you are in the starting phases of turning your business into a franchise, partner with a franchise lawyer who has tactical experience building a legal foundation for growing a franchise. It’s one thing to work with business owners. It’s another to be at the helm of a budding franchise, navigating all the unexpected turns along the way.
Together, we can give your business the best legal foundation to successfully enter the market. Contact me today to get the process in motion.