Choupette Investment Franchise as an Anti-Crisis Idea
Choupette, a Russian children's clothing brand, has created a new b2b format of partnership – an investment franchise. Development Director Anastasia Vasilkova told us how the company had come to this idea, and what it was.
– Of course, we are not the first company to come up with an investment franchise, but in the field of fashion it has rarely been used. The idea of developing a new format was born from our experiment – a pilot project on franchise management. We invited Lynn Irons, an international business consultant, to develop innovative methods for development processes management.
In the course of our work, we realized that our franchisees feel lonely in their regions. At the beginning the cooperation inspires them to some extent. But later they feel a lack of communication and daily support. Our central office certainly provides great assistance: training at the Choupette University, merchandiser visits, interactive sessions, assistance from managers and our marketing department. However, this support occurs in large blocks: often it is difficult for the franchisee to learn such a volume of information at once.
After the successful completion of the first phase of the pilot project, we concluded that we had placed a great burden on our partners. In most cases, the franchise is bought by people who do not have management experience, and therefore they can’t always organize the business correctly. With this conclusion, we realized that the best support we could provide was to adapt the information directly to daily questions and problems. Our pilot project gave us not only an idea but also certain algorithms, which we have already managed to test and derive them as basic tools of the new format of investment franchise management.
What do we mean by an investment franchise?
An investment franchise is understood differently depending on the industry and country. In our interpretation it is based on the basic postulate: the partner invests and bears investment risks and the franchisor manages the store. However, our job is not just to take control but to teach how to run a store. For several years, we will be developing the necessary skills of our partners through the format of an investment franchise and having done so, we will transfer them to an independent business running mode. This is our vision of a perfect picture. That is why we do not just manage but advise and offer ready-made solutions, which we discuss with the franchisee and implement them together. Thus, the partner is actively involved in the process.
Further development of the project
For us, the investment franchise is a new format that we have used so far in one store. It gave good results. I think we'll have a lot of examples like that. The idea that reads between the lines of any franchise, especially in Russia, is to buy a business, get income, but not be “the one to take the fall”, and basically our new format is just in line with this desire.