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    Lack of capital, manpower resource constraints, the time required to open another store, the involvement of business risks etc often redirects businesses to opt for the franchise option for growth and expansion. Franchise model has proved to be a successful and profitable business model for several business enterprises and companies of national and international repute. The right franchise model can offer a win-win situation for both the franchiser and the franchise. However, rolling out and operating the franchise platform need meticulous business planning and execution. The most sensitive stake involved in a franchise business is the brand name of the franchiser business. Therefore, it becomes imperative for the franchiser businesses to ensure that their franchisees carry out the concerned business operations in line with the accepted standards laid down by the former. This is where developing Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) can play a pivotal role in any franchise business model at work. In this article, we’ll try to focus on the importance of SOPs in a franchise business expansion.

    Familiarity with Services

    The franchise model is very common in the retail industry where customer experience assumes a significant priority. Customer experience can include a wide range of elements including how the business/store appears, how the merchandising is done, the physical environment provided to the customers, how employees deal with the customers, how the services are rolled out, how payment is processed and so on. A business enterprise can exercise absolute control over these elements when they are in charge and ensure that their customers get the best experience. When the same business enterprise becomes a franchiser, it becomes very important for them to ensure that their customers experience familiarity with the way services are being rolled out by the franchisees. With SOP manuals, franchisers can provide a systematic and detailed road-map to their franchisees in executing their day-to-day operations of various processes. These SOPs will help the franchisees conduct business operations with utmost precision and as a result, franchisers can have better control over the operational procedures and standards followed by their franchisees towards securing customer satisfaction and delight.

    With SOP manuals, franchisers can provide a systematic and detailed road-map to their franchisees in executing their day-to-day operations of various processes

    Maintaining Operational Standards

    Another relevant aspect of franchise business model is maintaining the operational standards in all the areas of operations. Franchisers have to clearly establish and communicate the expected operational standards and performance output pertaining to inventory management, merchandising display and demonstration, discipline and code of conduct, payment processing, communication protocols, grievance redressal, reporting mechanism etc. Merely providing guidelines may not be sufficient as deviations in the way a process is executed will result in differences in process output and performances which will eventually affect the customer experience. Therefore, it becomes necessary for franchisers to develop standard operating procedures which can be used by their franchisees to ensure that operational activities are being carried out as mapped and desired process outputs are achieved consistently. For example, a franchiser may issue a guideline to the franchise that stocks have to be replenished on time. That’ll be a vague instruction because it states nothing on when to place a reorder, how much to reorder etc. But if the inventory SOPs clearly states that a reorder has to be placed when the stock reaches a certain specific level, the franchise will be in a much better position to take a timely action towards stock replenishment. Thus, at the operational level, SOPs can provide a clear-cut roadmap for the employees to execute their responsibilities in a systematic and step-by-step manner.

    Merely providing guidelines may not be sufficient as deviations in the way a process is executed will result in differences in process output and performances which will eventually affect the customer experience

    Staff Recruitment and Performance

    Employees play a crucial role in any business enterprise whether it is a franchiser or a franchise. However, in case of a franchise business, it becomes even more important for the franchiser to ensure that the right employees are hired; are trained in the right way and their performances are monitored and controlled in the right way by the franchisee business. One of the best ways of making sure that franchisee staff management takes place in line with the standards laid down by the franchiser is by having HR SOP procedures or simply HR SOPs. With these accepted HR SOPs both the franchiser and the franchisee can monitor the HR activities and ensure that these activities are taking place in accordance with the predetermined standards. For example, with the job specifications provided by the franchiser, the HR department of the franchise can incorporate the same in its recruitment and selection process which will help them hire the right employees for the right jobs and nothing is left to chances or compromises in the quality of the manpower being hired.

    One of the best ways of making sure that franchisee staff management takes place in line with the standards laid down by the franchiser is by having HR SOP procedures or simply HR SOPs

    Reporting Mechanism

    Needless to say that it is very important in a franchise business to have a strict reporting mechanism in place. It is through this reporting mechanism that a franchiser can keep a tab on the performance of the franchise on a daily/periodical basis. Franchise performance can be monitored from various informational inputs like daily/weekly sales, inventory turnover, customer footfall, customer feedback and grievances, regulatory compliance, employee strength and their performance reports, the status of assets (machinery, equipment, furniture etc) and so on. This necessitates the presence of a suitable reporting mechanism through which a franchiser can access/receive the aforesaid informational inputs from its franchisees. With the help of SOPs, the requirements of a reporting mechanism can be linked to the routine operational procedures of the franchise. For example, a franchisee store manager can be assigned the responsibility of sending/communicating the daily sales report to the franchiser’s office as a part of his/her daily work schedule before calling it a day.

    It is through this reporting mechanism that a franchiser can keep a tab on the performance of the franchisee on a daily/periodical basis

    Ensuring that customers continue to have a delightful experience through a franchise business involves building up of the right franchise platform running on the right business processes in the background. To exercise better control over these business processes, SOPs can play a vital role for the franchisors. By laying down the operational procedures for various business processes like inventory, HR, marketing and retail etc both the franchisor and the franchise can have better control over their business operations and maintain the predetermined standards of performance and output.

    Benefits of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)

     


     

    To read more article related to this topics click here: Why Business Model is the First Step Towards Organizing Your Business? | YRCHow Can an SME Raise Funds from Public? | YRC05 Reasons why Developing the Right Culture in the Organization is Inevitable for Growth | YRCHow SOPs will Benefit Wholesale Brand Venturing into Retail | YRC.

    YRC is an “Expert Service Division” of Mind-A-Mend Consultancy Pvt. Ltd.

    Author Bio

    Nikhil Agarwal

    Chief Operations Officer

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      PROCESS AUTOMATION

      The idea of having Ecommerce Consultants on-board from the beginning itself points towards reducing the involvement of the promoters in daily operations. Ecommerce Businesses willing to be a brand reaping profits & sustaining the competition must ensure that most of their processes should be automated. The more the manual intervention, the more would be the errors.

      In Ecommerce business, you get only 1 chance to impress the customer & if you mess up there, you lose the customer for long.

      Process automation in respect to all the activities pertaining to customers from order receiving to order fulfilment is a must for a seamless experience for the customers.

      Task Management is another grey area where most deadlines fail as 90% of the tasks are assigned manually & are forgotten, unheard, misunderstood or mistaken.

      YRC Team of Ecommerce Management Consultants helps to make maximum of the processes system-driven to ensure minimalistic manual intervention.

      VIDEOGRAPHY & PHOTOGRAPHY

      No matter how good your product is, the customer would know only if it looks good.

      Photography includes the following steps:

      • Cataloguing your products
      • Cataloguing your images
      • Backup your images (A few cloud storage solutions include Dropbox, Google Drive, Bitcasa, Apple’s Cloud Storage etc.)
      • Choose the right camera & lens (You may also outsource the photography to a third party agency)

      DIGITAL MARKETING

      Digital Marketing includes SEO & SMM. SEO i.e. Search Engine Optimization includes activities like back-linking, meta tags, blog-writing etc. to ensure your website ranks on the 1st page on Google Search.

      Next comes SMM i.e. “Social Media Marketing” which as the name suggests including promoting your products on all the social media sites, email marketing, influencer marketing & several other BTL activities.

      These activities are going to be recurring & would decide the traffic on the website, the conversions, whether the right target market is tapped, the likes, the views, the orders, the reviews & much more. YRCs Ecommerce Consultants create a budget for digital marketing right from pre-launch to launch & for each month thereafter.

      Building digital marketing strategies in coordination with the agency, selecting them to signing them off would be the role of YRC.

      This ensures seamless coordination, detailed interactions & desired execution as it is always advisable to work with a single agency than multiple of them.

      IT INTEGRATION

      Selection of the right software for smooth functioning of back-end operations right from production to webstore display would be suggested and integrated by YRC Team.

      YRC’s Team defines SOPs of Product Movement, maps it with the locations & people. They then create a blueprint of all the features required in the software & help in shortlisting & selection.

      IT Integration involves connecting your offline inventories with real-time online webstore so when a sale occurs, inventories get deducted real time across offline as well as online platforms.

      This helps in accurate inventory management, maintaining the MOQs, re-order levels & achieving the optimum inventory levels.

      Some popular software include unicommerce, viniculum for your front-end website management & Genisys for your entire back-end Purchase, Production, Accounting, Invoicing etc. management.

      WAREHOUSE & LOGISTICS PLANNING

      • How many cities or countries you wish to sell in?
      • Where should your Warehouse be located?
      • Should you have one warehouse in each country or city?
      • Should you be having your own delivery team in your base city?
      • Would the 3rd party vendors be reliable? What happens when they lose or misplace your product during delivery?
      • How should I manage the logistics if my goods are coming from different countries?
      • How should the goods be stored and barcoded?
      • How much space do I require for warehouse?
      • I am sure several such questions must be haunting you while you think of starting your own fashion ecommerce brand.

       

      At YRC, our warehousing and logistics experts can help you devise a strategy for all of the above mentioned queries and much more.

      We design the layout of the Warehouse considering the inward, goods processing, software entry, barcoding, outward, goods return, scrap storage, goods stacking & much more.

      Logistics route plan is devised considering the manufacturer to your warehouse and from there to last mile delivery locations.

      UI & UX DESIGNING

      This Step involves 03 distinct parts:

      Part 1: Choosing the right Platform:

      From several platforms available in the market right from Shopify to magento, woocommerce, prestoshop, wordpress etc. you must choose the one that fits best for your business

      Part 2: UX Designing:

      “UX” denotes User Experience, which if put in simple language is building the functional requirements of the website.

      UX Designing includes designing the features required in the website, customer journey map, website features, the browsing features, navigation features, ecommerce order management process flow, checkout cart features, catalogue management, ecommerce payment system, cross selling features & much more.

      “As per statistics, 68% of the customers abandon the carts before payment”

      An interesting UX ensures the customer sticks on to the website for a longer time.

      Part 3: UI Designing:

      UI stands for User Interface, which means designing the look and feel of the website. UI includes using the right colours, elements and the entire aesthetics of the website.

      A good User Interface ensures the user completes the task that he has come for. It navigates the user through the journey of the brand in the simplest but most effective way.

      The UX designer maps out the bare bones of the user journey; the UI designer then fills it in with visual and interactive elements.

      If User experience is the bare bone, user interface wraps it up with an attractive cape.

      At YRC, our team if experts can help you develop the entire User Journey to ensure it is engaging!

      SAMPLING & PRODUCTION

      This step follows the “Designing” Phase, whether you have an in-house design team, freelance designers or an outsourced design company. It is one of the most exciting phases, as here you see your designs turning into products & your ideas turning into reality.

      In most start-up cases, production is outsourced i.e. brands tie-up with the established manufacturers/ job-workers to get their products manufactured.

      Sampling involves multiple 04 Stages, Fit-Sample, Prototype Sample, Pre-Production Sample & the Production Sample.

      Prototype Sample is the first sample provided to the buyer. It can be in any fabric/ colour. This sample is just to understand whether the product design looks equally great in reality.

      Fit Sample, as the name suggests is prepared to check the fit of the garment i.e. the various sizes, length, width etc.

      Pre-production is made by the actual production line. Here the stitching quality and other aspects related to manufacturing are checked. This is the last stage where rejection can be accepted.

      Production Sample is made before the production which is the replica of what is going to be finally produced.

      Once you are through with all this, you are good to go ahead & get your goods manufactured.

      PRODUCT DESIGNING / SOURCING

      Product Designing or Sourcing is the heart of the Ecommerce Fashion Brand.

      Product Designing / Sourcing can be done in several ways, as follows:

      • In-house Design Team
      • Freelance Designers
      • Outsourced Design Team
      • Ready Product Sourcing (From Manufacturer or Wholesaler)

      At YRC, we evaluate your business strategy & business model to arrive at the decision, which of the above ways would be best-fit for your business. In certain cases, product sourcing may be a combination of the above.

      These are the people who are going to build your brand! Whether they are the designers or merchandiser, your brand look is going to be in their hands.

      If you are designing each garment from the scratch, the sourcing would play crucial role in developing design identity of your brand.

      Sourcing includes fabric, trims, lining & all the raw material required to build the garment.

      BRANDING

      Branding is the “Look of the Brand”, right from logo to tagline, the colours used, the brand story, the brand communications on social media, the packaging & all the other aspects which speak directly or indirectly to the customers. Branding constitutes the look & feel of the brand & hence must be thoughtfully planned to match with the product that we are selling.

      Branding must appeal to our target audience. Example : A golden colour logo depicting finesse, art, richness, premium, however beautiful it may be individually cannot go with a brand selling affordable kids wear products. So, your logo must be in-line with your brand positioning, whether you are an expensive brand or a luxury brand or a value for money brand, it must be depicted from your “Branding”.

      It is an integral part to attract the target audience.

      ORGANOGRAMS & SOP’s

      Organogram is the “HR Blueprint” of the business which is created at the onset, to map out the team required across each function at various stages of the business. At the launch, only key people need to be got on board to ensure the project gets started & at this stage, all of them need to multi-task. Similarly, certain financial as well as operational goals are set for addition of the further team. Example, for the operations team, we hire 1 operations manager during the pre-launch phase & we add 1 more only when the business kicks-off & we reach a volume of selling more than 1000 pcs/ month or a turnover of more than 0.1 million USD.

      SOPs are Standard Operating Procedures, a bible to run the entire organization right from Sales, Purchase, HR, Order receiving to Order fulfilment, Inventory Management, Accounts, Warehouse, Logistics, Supply Chain, Production & all the other relevant functions for the business. Business must be organized from its first day of operations; only then the tasks can be delegated.

      At YRC, we design the organization structure, the processes, and approximate time taken to execute each process, job profile of every member within the organization, their KRAs, KPIs & the Reporting Structure.

      CRITICAL PATHWAY

      Critical Pathway Analysis (CPA), is a project management technique which cannot be overlooked while launching an ecommerce fashion brand. Brand launch process is cumbersome with multiple inter-dependent & time-bound tasks involved, which need to be tracked to ensure the project remains on track.

      CPA outlines key tasks across the project, their turnaround time (TAT) & the dependencies of tasks upon each other. It identifies the sequence of tasks, their interdependent steps from inception to completion, their criticalities, and their dates of onset, target dates of completion along with the key responsible person for the respective activities. Critical Pathway helps in understanding the unimportant & not urgent tasks which may jeopardize the execution of the project because of an unexpected snag! It also maps out the potential bottlenecks which might be posed because of the dependencies of tasks upon each other & cases where the next task cannot be commenced before the completion of the previous one.

      CPA detects the minimum & the maximum time involvement of a particular individual or team to execute the task, thereby arriving at the overall deadlines associated with the project.

      At Your Retail Coach, we design the Critical Pathway & review it periodically to ensure the project is on track & the progress is measurable.

      BUSINESS STRATEGY & BUSINESS PLAN

      Business Strategy includes the vision, mission, goals, business model, business plan & strategy for all the functions within the organization.

      Business Strategy is a well-defined plan that outlines who, what, where, why, how & when for the company; for example, who would be the target market, how to attract the target audience, when to launch new products, where to operate from, how to handle competitors, what would be the USP, what would be long term goal of the organization & several other answers to the 5Ws of Strategy.

      Business Strategy aligns the organization towards a common goal. Business SWOT helps company to identify & overcome their weaknesses & focus to sharpen the strengths. Business strategy forecasts future risks and helps business in building skillsets to overcome the potential threats.

      YRC’s Business Plan focuses on creating a “Blueprint” of the business, thereby deriving the feasibility of the concept & gauge whether the opportunity is lucrative to invest time, energy & effort. Business Plan creates cash flow understanding i.e. building inflow & outflow cash projections from Week zero to week 60 i.e. 05 year projection. Business Plan calculates the capital investment, operating costs, one-time costs, recurring costs & all the other numbers relevant to obtain the breakeven sales, return on investment, return on capital, internal rate of return & several other ratios. Business Plan is also one of the important requirements if you are targeting the “Investor Route”. Fund raising becomes extremely transparent & channelized. With business plan panned out clearly, the business will know until what point must it be stretched & where to stop, which reduces the probability of unplanned investments.

      MARKET RESEARCH

      Starting the concept of Ecommerce Fashion brand with Market Research ensures we get detailed understanding of the industry & this research report also acts as a social confirmation for your concept. Market Research helps in understanding the target locations, their population, potential online buyers for your product, competitors for each category, and top selling products of the competitors, competitors’ price range, offers & their responses & much more. Market Research helps in thorough understanding of your brand position as compared to our competitors. It helps in identifying gaps in the market, in your category along with the scope of the said product in the desired market. This will help in validation of your concept & prevents you from making the same mistakes as your fellow brands, eventually saving your time, energy & efforts. This phase is also a make or a break phase, as the market research study may at-times come up with some eye-popping numbers & statistics which might compel you to re-think on your product or category that you are planning to sell or alter your entire concept itself!! Market Research Reports analyse the competitors’ webstore for their traffic, conversion & sales. This is extremely valuable information to derive our inventory budgets & projections, which takes us to our next phase.