How Franchising Can Transform A Fragmented Industry
Original article published by Forbes, June 2, 2020 on forbes.com
By Dave Knox
With over 30 years in the industry, Peter Holt, CEO of The Joint Chiropractic, knows just about every angle of the methodology of running a franchise system. We sat down to talk about this unique challenge of a concept and methodology, as well as why franchising presents such a great opportunity for fragmented industries.
Dave Knox: At The Joint, you have been part of r e-energizing the brand. How did your deep background in franchising help in this effort?
Peter Holt: Franchising is not an industry. Franchising is simply a methodology, a way you can expand a business. And like so many businesses, we all have different options for expansion, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. And what has been interesting to me is there are probably over 230 different industries that utilize the methodology of franchising. In my own career, I have been involved with industries as varied as frozen desserts at Tasti D-Lite and the postal business with Mail Boxes Etc. Now with chiropractic care, you can look at that and say, "what on earth do all of those different businesses have in common?" Concept wise, very little, but in terms of the practice of how to build it through and manage it through a franchise system, an enormous amount.
And so that experience you have gained from each one of those different concepts can be leveraged as you go forward to that next concept. I often talk about when you are building and managing your franchise system, it's really important to understand that you are actually running two parallel businesses that are unrelated. What I mean is that you are working on a “C” concept, in this case chiropractic care, and then you are working with methodology and that's franchising. And the methodology is agnostic to the concept, but understanding both of them is the best way you can really maximize the opportunity of what that concept is.
The other two challenges were the corporate units. While Corporate was very focused on these corporate-owned units, the franchisees stopped feeling the love. If you have spent any time in the franchise model, if your franchisee stops feeling love, that's a tough place to be. We needed to revitalize and improve on the relationship with our franchise community. The other issue related to the corporate units was that these units were underperforming and putting a financial pressure on the company. So with my background in franchising, I had to fix the Corporate Units both in terms of their profitability, as well as the negative impact they were having on our relationship with the franchisees.
Holt: There are so many highly fragmented industries that can really benefit from the franchise model. If you look at the chiropractic industry in this country, it's about a $15 billion industry, and it is absolutely dominated by the 40,000 independent practitioners. We are sitting here as The Joint, we have 530 clinics open in 34 States. We have roughly about 1,400 doctors under our umbrella and we are the largest provider of chiropractic care in the country. That is possible, specifically, by utilizing that franchise model. And I think you can do this in hair care, in ice cream shops, and all kinds of industries where there is economy to scale that you create when you can increase the size of that overall network and leverage the experience. Franchising is the business of accelerated learning. If you are an independent concept, you are growing every year and applying those learnings to your business to be more profitable and more successful. In our franchise model, we have 530 versions of that learning taking place. Each one of those franchisees is bringing their own expertise and experience into the field and we can see best practices. We can take that and format it in a way that we can roll it out across the whole network and everybody benefits. This accelerated learning is inherent in the franchise model.
Knox: What lessons of entrepreneurship and building a business have you learned from franchising that are applicable beyond the franchising world?
Holt: There are so many different ways in which businesses can grow and they all have advantages and disadvantages. Franchising is probably the most unique form of business development that is out there. It is a form like no other. These are not my employees. This is not a union. Franchise networks are made up of people who are putting a significant portion of their life savings on the line to utilize your business model.
As such, one of the lessons learned from my perspective, is just how critical in life it is that you are vested in what you do. I was reading an article that said 75% of the American workers are disengaged from the work that they do. They don't care. And to me, that was such a horrifying statistic to read because where do we spend most of our time? At work. And so most of us are spending our time at work and we're not engaged in what we do. For me, one of the attractions for franchising and why I have never been able to leave this space is because in that franchise model, that level of engagement is always there. Franchisees have a lot at stake and they are going to be very clear to you on what they need. One of the lessons I would take from this is that however you get there, make sure that you are truly engaging in what you do. And that gives you the greatest opportunity to reach any kind of success that you are looking for.
Knox: Speaking about the engagement of the franchises, around 90% of your clinics have stayed open during COVID as essential businesses. How have you helped the franchisees during this tough time?
Holt: This has been such an unprecedented experience that we're all trying to figure out how to respond to this. One of the good things that we were experiencing in terms of building and managing this relationship with our franchisees is that, we have never been more connected and communicating more effectively with our franchisees than today. We have been transforming the way in which we communicate with the franchisee. We have weekly COVID town hall meetings, as well as webinars focusing specifically on the issues we are facing such as marketing in an uncertain time, how to apply for PPP funds, and how to work with your landlord on rent payments or deferrals. These are very focused webinars that we have been doing for our entire franchise community. We have also been restructuring the way in which we treat our patients in terms of making sure that we are meeting the highest standards, whether they are established by WHO or CDC. We have eliminated all of the nonessential items inside of the reception area of the clinic. As an open bay concept, we are limiting the number of people who go back into the open bay. We are sanitizing tables between patients, using more masks and gloves, and screening our patients.
What has been so humbling is to see our doctors across the country continue to treat our patients and thus allowing them to stay out of that more traditional healthcare system. The doctors are there, but if the patients feel that this is not essential to them, they do not come in. And again, we have been very fortunate to see our patients truly coming in. Of course there has been a drop, but our customers are continuing to come in to get their health care service, because they truly do see it as essential to their well-being.
About The Joint Chiropractic
The Joint Corp. (NASDAQ: JYNT) revolutionized access to chiropractic care when it introduced its retail healthcare business model in 2010. Today, the company is making quality care convenient and affordable, while eliminating the need for insurance, for millions of patients seeking pain relief and ongoing wellness. With more than 460 locations nationwide and over 6 million patient visits annually, The Joint is a key leader in the chiropractic industry. Named one of the Top 200+ Franchises by Franchise Times and ranked number 109 overall on Entrepreneur magazine’s Franchise 500® list, The Joint Chiropractic is an innovative force, where healthcare meets retail. For more information, visit www.thejoint.com. To learn about franchise opportunities, visit www.thejointfranchise.com.
The Joint Corp. is a franchisor of clinics and an operator of clinics in certain states. In Arkansas, California, Colorado, District of Columbia, Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Washington, West Virginia and Wyoming, The Joint Corp. and its franchisees provide management services to affiliated professional chiropractic practices.
The Joint Corp.
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