Using multi-site expansion to boost network growth

By Nick Hall | 10 Jul 2019 View comments

We all know from a customer acquisition perspective, it is far easier to retain clients than find new ones, but what if we applied that method to franchise recruitment? Multi-site expansion is not only a far simpler recruitment process, but an infinitely more cost-effective strategy.

Franchisors spend an enormous amount of money on attracting new leads to their business, however, more often than not, there is a pool of relevant candidates at their fingertips.

Expanding from within the existing network allows franchisors to streamline the recruitment process and bolster the network quickly.

Just ask Sally Nathan, national franchising manager for fast-growing sandwich, salad and café franchise Soul Origin.

In just eight short years, the QSR has grown form one store to 109, which Nathan credits to Soul Origin’s multi-site expansion focus.

The national franchising manager revealed that of the brand’s network, 62 per cent are franchised by partners who own more than one location.

“It is hugely positive thing for us in that it shows our partners are obviously willing to reinvest in the brand,” Nathan said.


The benefits of multi-site expansion as a recruitment strategy are plenty, with foundations rooted in advocacy.

As Nathan mentions, existing franchisees have knowledge of the system and an understanding of franchise operation.

Many of the pitfalls that present barriers to recruitment are removed with multi-site expansion. Franchisees already understand the required level of investment, will have easier access to finance, and a proven track record of business success.


Encouraging a member of your network to take the leap to multi-unit franchisee is not an easy task, however.

Similar to the initial on-boarding process, existing franchisees must be assessed for their multi-unit capacity.

Just because a member of your network is an excellent franchisee, does not mean they will be a successful multi-site operator.

One of the reasons their existing site may be flourishing is due to their in-store presence. They may be a hard worker, willing to undertake tasks quickly and efficiently; taking on the responsibility of a second outlet may remove them from this capacity.

It is crucial to develop a strategy that aligns not only with the individual franchisee’s career goals, but also presents a valuable opportunity for consistent network performance.

It was precisely this reason that led Nathan to implement a new recruitment growth plan when arriving at Soul Origin.

“One of the things that I brought in when I joined the brand was a revised, robust system for multi-site growth, which was split into four sections.”

Multi-site expansion strategy

Nathan said the first stage in the multi-site expansion strategy is a multi-unit application form.

“We measure operating performance, spot analysis on how they run their existing location as well as how they will manage the additional store,” she said.

The assessment allows the recruitment team to establish capacity for multi-site expansion, while addressing the viability of network growth.

From there, the business then runs a thorough assessment through a diagnostic toll to generate an objective report, before going through a thorough finance check.

“Our finance check is actually based on a bank loan application, and we do that for two reasons. Firstly, because it is incredibly thorough and secondly, because it gets the franchise partner in the mindset of what information they need to prepare.”

“The final step is a comprehensive skills and training analysis,” Nathan said. “We take a look at where there may be gaps in the partner’s skills set and provide a tailored program to help them achieve their goals.” 

Final thoughts

Expanding internally is more than just an efficient method for network growth. By leveraging the current capabilities and entrepreneurial spirit of the existing franchise network, franchisors can continue to develop partners and increase representation.

The option may appeal to franchisees motivated by career progression, looking to take a more operational stance on their business.

You may find the most suitable candidate to grow your network is already housed within your system.