10 steps to global growth
20 June, 2012
The recent Peach / Coca Cola Business Breakfast heard expert advice from Ellie Frost, formerly in charge of international development at Jamie's Italian and now a consultant for growing brands including La Tasca and Beds and Bars. Tom Holman rounds up 10 expert tips shared by Frost and our business leader guests for taking on the world.
1 Understand the global consumer
Customers in most countries are very well travelled now. That makes them harder to please, but it is also a trend that is smoothing out local variations—many global brands find their bestselling dishes are much the same wherever they operate now. “If you’ve got a truly good concept, the consumer is the consumer and it should work around the world,” says Frost.
2 Know your brand
Work out precisely what your brand represents and communicates, and where your strengths and weaknesses lie. “Know what you stand for and figure out whether it will work in a particular market,” Frost advises.
3 Don’t go it alone
Overseas partners add invaluable local knowledge—both cultural and operational. Some operators will have the resources to plot international openings by themselves, but those that work with franchisees or on licensing agreements usually find the path much smoother.
4 Research your partners
Do some exhaustive homework on prospective partners before you sign anything. Meet them all, work them hard and ask endless questions; seeing how people react under pressure and interrogation can tell you a lot. What is their track record? Have they built their own businesses as well as franchised ones? What are their policies on staff and suppliers? Stay patient—deciding on the right people should take months, not weeks.
5 Look for values
Local expertise and a feeling for what works in particular cultures should be a given—but try to work out what a prospective partner stands for, too. “We talk about finding the right partner, but it’s really about finding the right values,” thinks Frost. “If your partner doesn’t put emphasis on the same things as you, the relationship isn’t going to work.”
6 Encourage local ownership…
Building a sense of entrepreneurship among partners is crucial to success. Make sure all local staff understand your values as well as your operations, and incentivise generously to ensure they hit targets. Be prepared to devolve some day-to-day autonomy.
7 … But stay in charge
Partners know their markets best, but no-one understands your business better than you. No matter what the challenges of time and distance, stay on top of all international operations. Mistakes can damage your brand, and putting them right will take much more effort and money than avoiding them in the first place.
8 Check your pace
Too many operators have had their fingers burned by trying to speed ahead with international openings. Accept that progress will be slow, and focus on one market and one opening at a time rather than world domination. Things will get easier in due course—and then it’s time to hit the gas with overlay openings.
9 Expect the worst…
If something can go wrong it probably will—and if it doesn’t it’ll be a bonus. Accept that international expansion will be painful at times, be ready for delays, and learn quickly from mistakes.
10 … But be confident
UK eating out brands are among the best in the world, and now is a good time to take them overseas. International openings are a great way to keep sales on an upward curve, and show prospective investors or buyers that a business has plenty of growth left in it.
Peach’s Business Breakfast was hosted at Hawksmoor in Guildhall with support from Coca Cola.
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