How to be a top-cat in franchising. What we can learn from our feline friends

Along with half the planet, loves cats…and you can see why. They are an inspiration to franchisees everywhere!

Cats are…independent

Cats are unique in the animal kingdom in their cultivation of a domestic status which also allows for their own need for freedom. They are dependent on their owners to a certain extent, but are masters of their realm beyond the cat-flap.

You could say they have worked out a franchising model for the feline world. 

The best franchisees make the most of the support and benefits that their franchisor offers, but use their creative freedom to create the best business they can in their own territory.

Franchising can’t succeed without good guidance from the top and energy and ingenuity from the franchisee. Despite the formula and established business practices of the franchise as a whole, new ideas and marketing strategies are always welcome and often advantageous.

Don’t forget the greatest ever franchisee initiative: the Egg McMuffin. Dreamt up by smart thinking MacDonald’s franchisee Herb Peterson in the early ‘70s, that poached egg and bacon sandwich changed the face of the world’s most famous franchise forever.

Cats are... territorial

Anyone woken in the dead of night by the ear-splitting yowls of neighbourhood cats knows the importance of territory to these semi-feral creatures.

Tomcats will spend a lot of their waking hours, prowling the local area and marking the boundaries of their ‘patch’ with a musky warning scent.

Whilst this method has yet to be adopted by the franchising community, territory plays a large role in the success of this business model.

Territory mapping for franchisees is a complex procedure, which involves researching local demographics, market trends and geographic data.

The area a franchise business is allocated will largely determine its success. There need to be enough potential customers, a manageable size of area for the specific franchisee and a healthy, not prohibitive, level of competition.

Many franchisors now employ digital territory mapping tools, which can decipher the best area to give a franchisee using software that enables complex data accumulation and analysis.

Cats are…good at self-promotion

Unlike dogs, there is a little more guile involved in a cat’s survival plan. 

Whereas ‘man’s best friend’ has opted for unconditional loyalty and complete dependence, with slipper delivery and wagging tail as standard, cats see their domestic arrangement as more of a two-way street.

Cats know exactly when to turn on the charm – i.e. when the can of Whiskers sits un-opened on the counter-top. If you ignore them, they’ll probably go next door and try the same thing.

In the same way, franchisees must find an effective marketing strategy quickly in order to attract enough custom to survive.

The franchisor may have provided some marketing tools, but the leg-work is down to each individual investor.

No matter how passionate the franchisee is about their business, unless they rub up against a lot of customers, they are unlikely to do well.

Cats are...loyal

Despite their roaming ways and a lot of bad press, cats do have a strong sense of family.

Rather than seeing their owners as ‘parent’ figures, they consider their human co-habitants as non-threatening members of their cat-clan. When a cat leaves an uneaten mouse on the doormat, it’s not an oversight – it’s a gift for their cat family.

Loyalty is an essential part of the franchisor/franchisee relationship. The franchisor’s job is to foster an environment of integrity, support and communication and this in turn encourages the franchisee to stay faithful to the business and do well for it.

A strong and extensive franchise network is dependent on franchisees sticking around and making a good name for the brand.

Rather than being a dictatorial ‘owner’ of franchisees (a common stigma for Franchisors), the franchisor is actually more of a facilitator, and this is beauty of the relationship.

Cats are…survivors

The furthest distance a cat has fallen, and lived to tell the tale, is 32 stories. 

In fact, felines are more likely to survive a fall from a great height than a short distance. This is because a prolonged length of free-fall allows the cat to twist itself from a self-protecting posture (curled up) to one more akin to a flying squirrel!

This innate sense of aerodynamics and basic physics is not only deeply impressive, but also lies behind the common claim that cats have ‘9 lives’. 

They also have an agility and spatial awareness that gets them out of a lot of scrapes.

It’s fair to say that a franchise, with all the right elements in place is more likely to survive than a start-up business when times get tough.

With good support from the franchisor and a solid network of fellow franchisees, a new franchise owner has a lot of resources to draw from and can react more quickly, and effectively to negative forces.

About The Author

Nicky Tatley Writer
Nicky contributes articles to all titles in the Dynamis stable, primarily, and and is a regular contributor to other business publications including Talk Business, and NuWire Investor.