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Franchise business owners reveal keys to business success

A record crowd of the nation’s most aggressive franchise owners shared their growth strategies last month at the 8th annual Multi-Unit Franchising Conference, which was held at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas. Franchise Update Media Group (FUMG), one of the leading industry resources for franchise development, hosted the event, where attendees shared strategies for successfully expanding, strengthening brand power and increasing market share in today’s tough economy.

“This year was our eighth conference, and we had the highest attendance ever, experiencing a 54 percent increase over last year,” said Therese Thilgen, president of FUMG. “We had 525 attendees, 78 exhibitors and 80 sponsors. This strong showing demonstrates the power of having an event designed specifically to address the issues that the business builders of Main Street America are facing today. Franchising is the biggest engine of economic growth today, with multi-unit and multi-brand operators generating $1.3 billion in annual revenue.”

Conference attendees affirmed that the down economy is not stopping their long-range expansion plans, and that leadership, and developing strong relationships between the franchisor and franchisees are the keys to achieving successful unit growth, expanding market share and enhancing brand power.

“Regardless of the type of industry, business strategies that focus on bringing value to the customer and delivering extraordinary customer service are what work,” Thilgen said. “Getting the customer to return is of utmost importance. Budgets are tight, so now more than ever, consumers are looking for the best value and great service for every dollar they spend. If customers feel that they are not getting both, they will quickly take their business somewhere else.”

Finance was another topic of great interest at the conference. One result of the economic downturn is that traditional and non-traditional sources are being tapped. Private equity groups are showing great interest in the opportunities franchising offers, and franchisors must be flexible in their approach to these groups.

“One size does not fit all when it comes to franchise agreements, and franchisors must be flexible, particularly when private equity groups are involved,” Thilgen said. “The economy will turn around at some point, and investors want to be part of that, so they are looking at the brand and at the operator, to determine how much growth potential there is for each opportunity.”

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