Jibu Wrap-up Blog
We’ve watched Jibu’s celebrations and growing pains as they have tackled various obstacles, from defining franchisee roles to managing expectations of investors, to learning about new markets and opportunities. From the first meeting at the Social Sector Franchise Innovations Roundtable in September of 2016, to the last phone call in May, mentor Peter Holt’s deceptively simple words keep ringing true:
“Good decisions come from good information”
This advice, and the implicit reminder to keep things simple, applies to many issues big and small. Good communication leads to good information. Good formalization of documents leads to good information. Good definition of metrics leads to good information — and together, these form the basis of the good decisions Jibu continues to make as they grow their franchise and make a considerable dent in the issue of affordable clean water in East Africa.
With Mark at the helm of Jibu Uganda, Jibu has moved through a number of iterations addressing the critical issues first defined at the 2016 Social Sector Franchising Roundtable.
Critical Issue #1: Franchisee Selection Criteria
When we first met, Jibu’s quick success low barrier to entry to the franchise and microfranchise network resulted in potential franchisees that did not quite meet the qualifications needed to run a successful operation. At the Roundtable, the group suggested using the microfranchise as an “incubator” to assess and develop a potential franchisee’s business acumen and “hustle”. And this has worked! When Ilona, UNH MPP ’17, visited Jibu Rwanda in January, she met a microfranchisee who proved himself and now owns his own successful franchise location.
Additionally, Jibu has worked to further define the qualifications, such as specific guidelines for financial liquidity. However, Jibu has learned that not every indicator of a successful franchisee is completely tangible. While it is important to have an explicit list of criteria, other methods, such as involving existing franchisees in the screening process, can also help to determine who might be a good fit in the network. Which brings us to the next critical issue…
Critical Issue #2: Franchisee Development
During the roundtable, we focused a lot of conversation on developing a “sales culture”. That “hustle” that is so important to success is one of the less tangible qualities that can be both innate and developed. And through the franchisee development process, important distinctions must be made to ensure that there is a balance between salesmanship, good judgement, financial knowledge, and customer service.
One of the major recurring themes over the past year is the issue of legacy. Since many franchise owners have been with Jibu from the beginning, it has been important for Mark and the Jibu team to help them develop and adjust as the organization grows. In some cases, this means allowing owners to be “grandfathered” in on certain policies; in others, it requires learning when to move on from franchisees who are not adequately adapting. Again, this goes back to “good information” — by tracking goals, sales, and finances, continuously defining expectations, and gathering other data, Jibu can make good decisions about who is best representing the organization and who may not continue to be a good fit. While these decisions may not be made identically across the board, being fair and transparent allows franchise owners to continue to build trust in the Jibu mission and management.
Finding new ways to build that trust and motivate the network has been an integral part of the last year. From team-building exercises, to mystery shoppers, to Staff Field Visit Days, Mark and the team has cultivated the Jibu culture, balancing sales and service, preparing the organization for expansion and excellence.
Critical Issue #3: Expansion Strategy (Rural)
When we met at the Roundtable, the consensus was that the business model needed to expand to rural areas was too different from Jibu’s current business model, and the idea was generally tabled. While this remains true, Jibu has made some headway in expanding to peri-urban areas around Kampala, Uganda — as much as two hours’ distance from the city. As of our last conversation, they are on track to open 18 new stores outside of Kampala within 2017.
Critical Issue #4: Regional Development
While tackling the issue of managing a multi-country operation, one of the primary approaches recommended was utilizing data for decision making. Jibu has taken huge strides in this direction. In hiring Kelli Schindelegger, as the VP of International Franchise Development, they have increased the collection, format, and delivery of the “good information” needed to make decisions about expanding to other markets. Presently, they are in communication with a potential Master Franchisor for a projected Tanzania market — having found an individual that holds the same balance of cultural understanding, business acumen, and social mission that they are searching for in their smaller franchise owners!
We are excited for the 2017–2018 Social Sector Franchise Accelerator to kick off with the Social Sector Franchise Innovations Roundtable on October 18–19, 2017. We have selected 5 new Social Sector Franchises to participate this season, and can’t wait to share our journeys with you! Check out their blogs (coming soon!) and stay tuned!
Wessex Social Ventures https://medium.com/@wessex
Pollinate Energy https://medium.com/@pollinateenergy
Mercado Fresco https://medium.com/@mercadofresco
Apps and Girls: https://medium.com/@appsandgirls