Are you already running a successful business? Perhaps you may be thinking: “Should I expand my business overseas? Could I franchise my business overseas?” “Or should I work with an existing franchise?”
Let’s start by asking, “What are the benefits to franchising your business internationally?” Taking your company international can certainly increase your overall brand recognition, give you the potential to find new customers and the opportunity to experience new things – from meeting new people, to learning ways to streamline your business, to diversifying or expanding your products or services along the way.
Today’s global marketplace does make international expansion easier than it was in the past. But it won’t be without it’s challenges – from language barriers and cultural differences, to unforeseen costs not to mention running a business from another country.
There’s a lot to know and the International Franchise Association http://www.franchise.org/, among other resources,can help you along the way. Here are just a few things to keep in mind when trying to decide whether or not to expand your business franchise on a global scale.
Marketing Messages, Customer Relations & Your Brand Name
It’s more than just mere translation – everything from colors to catch phrases can and should be used only when you understand the implications of meaning overseas. Take the time to do your research and find a way to test market before you spend your budget on something that may not strike the right note once it’s abroad. Even when another country seems similar, sometimes the slightest variations on tone or image can be enough to ruin your well planned message. Plus, you will want your brand to reflect your company’s willingness to be sensitive to the needs and desires of its international customers. It’s never too early to start engaging with your potential new customers to find out what they want and what works.
Whether you use a professional translator of bring on the opinions of friends and co-workers with experience in the country you’ve identified, take the time to find out as much as you can.
Who Can Do What You Can Do?
Every new business franchisor would love to think they will have no problem finding reliable managers that are just as passionate about running the franchise overseas – but it’s not always that easy. Finding the right fit to run your franchise overseas cannot be understated. Having a solid company hand book to direct new managers and staff as to brand philosophies and protocol, all while adjusting as needed to local cultural norms, will be part of the challenge in finding the right staffing overseas.
Again, use existing resources to help you find the right match for your new franchise venture. There are U.S. government organizations such as the Export-Import Bank, which can help you determine the credit worthiness of new business arrangements.
Regulations, Research & What’s Good to Know
Many countries have regulations, which dictate the rules and restrictions in buying and selling franchises. However, more and more countries are looking to franchising to increase economic growth and opportunities abound.
China, Indonesia, and the Philippines are seeing a high level of franchise activity and have high GDP growth projections for 2014. Other countries seeing good licensing activity are Australia, Japan, and New Zealand. Malaysia and South Korea have regulations that discourage foreign franchise brands from entering their countries. China is making the transition from a government-owned enterprise economy to a consumer-spending economy; along with an average wage increase of roughly 20%. This means more and more consumers will have the income to spend on U.S. brands.
Russia, South Africa, and Nigeria have seen new licenses granted for U.S. franchisors in 2013. This trend is expected to continue in 2014.
Research is key and organizations such as the U.S. Trade Office http://www.trade.gov/faq.asp can help you understand what you need to do when you start building your franchise business overseas. Legal considerations are also important as everything from trademarks and copyright to taxes and other costs will need to be taken into consideration. You will want to work with an attorney who has experience or association with the country you are looking to do business with. Many law firms have offices overseas to assist with these types of endeavors.
And don’t underestimate the value of asking questions and looking at other case studies from business that have paved the way into franchise success. The SBA and other U.S. government resources can often connect you to similar examples of franchise success and help you to mitigate risk along the way.