Smartline Personal Mortgage Advisers has taken out the top spot in the 2013 Topfranchise Awards for the fifth straight year, with online, mobile and kiosk-style concepts putting in a strong performance at the awards.
The Topfranchise Awards, judged by market research firm 10 Thousand Feet, allows prospective franchisees to benchmark franchisors against industry performance across seven categories.
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Those categories are renewal, recommendation, financial, lifestyle, passion, support and opportunities.
For the fifth year in a row, Smartline Personal Mortgage Advisers has taken out the top spot, followed by Kwik Kopy, Car Care Australia, Mister Minit and Snap-On Tools.
Rounding out the top 10 are Wet Seal, Worldwide Online Printing, EmbroidMe, Anytime Fitness and Bright Eyes.
According to Ian Krawitz, head of intelligence at 10 Thousand Feet, there is a direct correlation between franchisors who embrace online communication platforms and franchisee satisfaction.
“Sitting down one-on-one with a franchisee is vital,” Krawitz says.
“But what online platforms are doing is enabling the most experienced people in the business to share the most up-to-date advice with franchisees that they wouldn’t ordinarily get to meet with.”
Krawitz points to the success of Kwik Kopy, which moved from 10th spot last year to second spot this year after introducing a new internal communications strategy, including sales and marketing portals with online dashboards to share best practice tips.
Smartline, meanwhile, attributes its success to social media platform Yammer, where 90% of the company’s 250 franchisees share knowledge with each other, generating 1,200 posts a month.
Franchisees are also going digital with their local area marketing budgets, according to 10 Thousand Feet.
Car Care has been particularly active online, investing in search engine optimisation and using Google Adwords to raise its profile, says managing director Mike Stringer.
Krawitz also highlights the rise of mobile franchises – one of which is Car Care – and kiosk concepts such as Mister Minit.
“With retail space, particularly in a big development, particularly Westfield, rents continue to go up but foot traffic is down,” Krawitz says.
“Mobile concepts would certainly be very appealing and attractive to prospective franchisees. The other thing that’s nice about it is a key element prospective franchisees look for is lifestyle.
“One of the new entrants that didn’t make the top 10, but made the overall list, is V.I.P. Home Services. You can work two days a week or you can work 65 hours a week.
“They’re more diverse in terms of the number of hours they work a week. With [fixed site] retail, there’s often a set number of hours.”
Krawitz believes the mobile franchise trend will continue to pick up pace.
“I think the trend does point in that direction and I think there’s a lot more respect for mobile concepts than maybe 15 years ago,” he says.
“It certainly appeals to a wider audience in the Australian public and the start-up risk is a lot lower.
“Most mobile franchises don’t tend to employ staff, which has its pros and cons. On the pro side of things, you can control your own destiny and don’t have to go through IR challenges.”