The State of Franchises: 4 Emerging Priorities Among Business Owners

Franchise businesses have long proved to be attractive ventures, offering an innovative, scalable model for expanding brand reach, supporting local communities and building consumer trust—while limiting overhead and risk. As the national and local economies begin to recover from recent years’ financial hardships, franchises are proving even more beneficial. With the total number of US franchise businesses expected to exceed 800,000 in 2023, franchises are driving economic recovery by creating jobs and connecting entrepreneurs to trusted brands and finely tuned processes.

But this important model is not without its challenges. To effectively manage growth and harness new revenue opportunities, franchisors of all sizes need immense coordination, oversight and control across the whole company, including all franchisee, supplier and loyalty program contracts, and all geographies, both domestic and international. Whether you have hundreds of franchisees or just a few, agreements can number in the thousands—from franchise license agreements (FLAs) to equipment leases—and become increasingly difficult to track, standardize and manage as you scale.

With so many agreements and millions of dollars in revenue at stake, franchisors need a single, searchable and centralized contract system that allows them to tag, store and organize agreements with enhanced speed, productivity and risk management. That’s why Docusign works with franchisors, and their franchisees, to provide an agreement portal where they can electronically generate, sign, negotiate and control all related agreements in one place. See how automated agreement tools and a central, intelligent repository can help you tackle today’s top priorities in the franchise industry.

Attract, retain and support franchisees to accelerate growth

Adding new franchisees can be the cornerstone to a brand’s growth journey—so it’s no wonder that quickly onboarding and operationalizing these new locations is a top priority. For every new franchisee, you have to draw up, send, track and store a myriad of contracts, each with potentially different pricing arrangements and geographic regulations or approvals:

  • Franchise applications
  • Letters of intent
  • Franchise license agreements (FLAs)
  • Non-disclosure agreements (NDAs)
  • Intellectual property contracts
  • Training verifications
  • Non-compete contracts
  • Loyalty program participation agreements 
  • Building leases and subleases
  • Real estate inspection forms

With a manual agreement process consisting of shared drives, excel spreadsheets and emails, franchisors dramatically slow the pace of business, cutting into sales revenue they could be earning with the new franchisee up and running.

A Docusign agreement portal simplifies and automates the franchisee onboarding process. Potential entrepreneurs looking to become franchisees can apply from a secure, online portal that automatically kicks off further exploration and document generation. Franchisors can easily upload and send agreements from one platform—allowing franchisees to review, negotiate and sign from almost anywhere, at any time, on any mobile device. With fewer delays, a centralized agreement experience accelerates your business relationships and sets the tone for efficient operations and a growth-oriented future.

A global food service brand sped up franchise agreement processing times by 97% after using Docusign CLM.

Strengthen supplier and franchisee relations—and reduce supply chain friction

In a world where any number of disruptions can bring supply chains to a halt—from port shutdowns to natural disasters—smoothing supplier relationships is top of mind for franchises across the globe. However, for large franchises with hundreds, if not thousands, of suppliers, the process of creating, locating and managing supplier agreements can be time-consuming, error prone and an obstacle to agile pivots in the face of supply chain disruptions.

When franchises tap into Docusign agreement tools, they can store, tag and organize supplier and franchisee agreements in a single, secure, searchable repository—so any contract is just a few clicks away. Even more, they can standardize common agreements and access a library of pre-approved contract templates to reduce manual input and increase visibility into logistics and supplier contracts:

  • Bills of lading
  • Delivery receipts 
  • Franchise supplier agreements (FSAs) 
  • Service level agreements (SLAs)
  • Equipment leases

After automating its supplier contracts with Docusign, one of the largest fast food chains increased the efficiency of supply chain management by more than 300%.

Once agreements are executed, franchisors can analyze, report on franchisee performance and supplier spending, automatically bulk send updates to franchisee with new supplier information and even use AI analysis to ensure suppliers and franchisees are performing under agreed SLA terms.

Embrace technology to streamline operations and improve brand control

Once a franchisee is up and running, ensuring smooth operations and uniform branding is paramount. With thousands of new franchises emerging every year, businesses are under tremendous pressure to continually improve operational efficiency and stay competitive—and many are turning to technology to help them do it. When you digitize and centralize your franchise agreements, you can save time and reduce errors on your most common tasks—from document generation and collaboration to storage.

A Docusign franchise agreement platform allows franchisors to automate contract routing to appropriate parties and protect sensitive information with data encryption and authentication. With Web Forms, they can further accelerate contract tasks by populating new agreements with data drawn directly from their portal, including prices and expiration dates. Going one step further, franchisors can also integrate their contract system with Salesforce, Microsoft and other business software to smooth workflows among finance, sales, procurement, legal and other departments—and across franchisees. With more than 400+ pre-built integrations, Docusign optimizes the time internal teams spend collaborating on any given contract, so they can get back to promoting customer satisfaction and franchisee success.

Prevent lost revenue opportunities

Disruptions to the flow of revenue are a constant threat even to the largest of franchises—and a major barrier to expansion opportunities in new markets. When FLAs and SLAs are not effectively tracked, owners can easily forget to renew contracts or update rates and terms, forcing them to take steep losses from the lost sales. In the case of one global company, missing the renewal window on an expired franchisee license led to a $2 million loss within a year because of outdated terms and costs.

A centralized contract portal doesn’t just store all of your contracts in the same place for easy reference; it helps franchisors avoid the potential revenue losses and disruption to services from expired franchisee and supplier contracts. Docusign’s franchise agreement technology removes the risk of missing contract renewal and expiration dates by providing automatic renewal alerts in time to negotiate new contracts with more favorable terms and identify upsell opportunities. These tools even allow you to track and manage the entire renewal process—from negotiating new terms to signing the final agreement—to ensure the latest renewal is stored and associated with its parent agreement in an accessible repository.

Gain a competitive edge with Docusign for franchise agreements

As franchises continue to offer business owners around the globe a pathway to profitability and growth, Docusign can help by digitizing and automating the entire agreement process—no matter the size of your franchise or complexity of contracts. Working with the world’s most trusted and recognizable agreement solutions provider has tangible benefits, lending your brand a reputation for professionalism and technological proficiency. With Docusign tools, brands can better facilitate franchisee initiatives, supplier partnerships and digital transformation—and your sales, operations, legal and procurement teams can focus on the important work that needs their attention to make your goals a reality.

Contact us today to kickstart a new era of organization, collaboration and growth for your franchise.

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