Franchising is an excellent opportunity to grow the brand’s presence by overpowering geographical boundaries. In fact, franchising could be a stepping stone towards building a successful business empire. Where implemented, franchising lets an individual come on board of the brand of his/her choice, mainly because he/she senses a lucrative return on his/her investments.
Explaining how UClean is a good bet for franchise partners, Arunabh Sinha, Founder & CEO, UClean, says, “UClean is on a mission to organize the massive but unorganized laundering and dry cleaning industry in India. We are doing this through the franchise model by setting up hyperlocal micro-format neighborhood stores. Where each store present in your neighborhood will be equipped with machinery and have fully trained manpower. They would be servicing customers living within a 2-3 km radius of the store. The store will offer various services like laundry, dry cleaning, shoe cleaning, carpet cleaning. We started 5 years back, currently; we are present in 72 cities and a couple of international locations with 217 outlets.”
“It’s not a very capital-intensive business. It falls under the franchise sweet spot of Rs 10-15 lakh because machines are about Rs 5 lakh. Having machines in the store is important and Covid has reinforced that point. The biggest challenge in the laundry industry is the lack of transparency, meaning that when you give your clothes to a local Dhobi, you are not sure where your clothes are getting washed with what kind of detergents. It’s a mid-ticket size franchise opportunity that is the need of the hour,” he further adds.
Similarly, an investment worth Rs 10 lakh is required for the franchising rights for Baskin Robbins, and there is no capital investment per se required.
“It is just the store rental. In that store how we create a sense of excitement and happiness for our consumers is our main focus. Every month we keep growing, we have 750 stores right now and every month we keep increasing the number by 10-15 stores. The ice cream market is doing well in India and the profit in this market is high. Therefore, it’s a great time to be a part of the Baskin & Robbins family,” states Raghav Ravichandran, General Manager- Marketing, Baskin Robbins, Graviss Food Pvt. Ltd.
“The majority of our stores which we operate ourselves are what we call direct-to-consumer. Roundabout 80 percent will be company-owned and company-operated. The remaining balance is what franchise operates under our strict supervision as well as corporation. In terms of monetary requirement, the down investment including stocks is Rs 10-12 lakh and we do have franchises that are well-settled today,” adds Subrata Dutta, Group Managing Director, Organic India.
The customer truly is king and the industry is going to great lengths to accommodate all of their demands. They are seeking tech integrations and collaborations.
“Being in a franchise-heavy ecosystem, the customer is always number one for the brand. That’s the reason Baskin Robbins is one of the most recognized and loved brands across the world. Customer demands from the brand an exceptional product quality, a promise that what is communicated is what is delivered in the store, and finally you want to be a part of the experience where you have eaten a product that makes you feel happy. We are evolving with our consumers. We make sure that the store experience for our consumers is great and they would want to come in again,” shares Ravichandran.
“One thing we keep insisting on before selecting a franchise is that we need people who suffer from OCD which in our case translates to Obsessive Customer Delight. Other than the milk and grocery delivery business, there is no other business that has the frequency as much as the laundry business. For us, retaining customers has become more important than other businesses. In the laundry business, each customer ends up translating into Rs 40,000-50,000 worth of business every year. That’s why converting a very customer into a subscriber is something we focus on. We have a dedicated Customer Delight team that calls up the customer that has used our services 4-5 times and then tries to sell a package. Almost any 6-month-old UClean store across India would be having 30 percent of customers who have subscribed to some kind of package. Furthermore, UClean does laundry by the Kg so we charge Rs 90 per kilo for the wash and iron kind of service where 1 kilo would be roughly 4 shirts. The value of the product which a customer is giving you is always more, therefore, the trust factor is extremely high,” adds Sinha.
Managing Your Store v/s Franchisee Outlet
Organic India started from zero, perfected the business, and then went ahead with the franchise models. The 80-20 ratio might change to 50-50 maybe in a couple of years.
“But the keyword over here is proper management and standardization of the store. Whether you are in South India or North India, the experience should be the same. In our stores, the one we operate, we have doctors to advise the consumers on the basis of their requirements. We haven’t perfected this with our franchise because the issue is that one has to go and provide this training. We have to be careful because ultimately it is healthcare we are talking about. Therefore, over a period of time, we are gradually moving towards the franchise. The franchise stores in Gaya, Patna, Gorakhpur are doing well so far,” states Dutta.
“There is formal training and a specialized team that we have in-house in our Head Office. When a franchise signs our contract we make them aware of our brand philosophy, guidelines. The franchise needs to know as much as an internal employee. Every step of the way of how you greet a customer to what is your turnaround time that you serve the customer, if a customer is not satisfied with your product then how do you manage that situation which happens rarely for us, hence, every step of way franchise is supported. So, essentially we have had two big meet-overs where we changed the entire branding at our parlors. For example, in winter we have hot desserts for customers to relish and the franchise is trained to understand the product and how to sell them. The biggest challenge that Baskin Robbins faces is that ice cream is for all age groups so the messaging would engage 8 years old to 60 years old customers. We make sure that the franchise feels as comfortable as we do when talking to the consumers,” adds Ravichandran.
How Franchises Can Add Value to the Business
Managing the expectations of the franchise partners is important for any brand. In the end, the franchise is the brand.
“When you walk to a Baskin Robbins store, your interaction with the store owner, manager, or server is exactly what Baskin Robbins stands for. If you don’t believe in the brand and the fact that you are serving a product that is making a customer's life a little joyful then essentially you have lost the plot of what it takes to be a franchise. Looking at digital as not a threat but as something you have to coexist with is essential,” states Ravichandran.
“We learn from our franchise every day. We are flexible, have SOPs, operations manuals but if we feel we are still 80 percent there. The only thing we would like to advise to a franchise is that whatever we are doing or selling, at the end of the day customer experience should not suffer,” adds Sinha.