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Insights on franchise expansion

Even when one is just starting out in the business world, thoughts of expansion are always at the back of one’s mind. After 23 years in the industry, Crystal Clear shares the lessons it learned here.
By Robyn Villanueva |

Even when one is just starting out in the business world, thoughts of expansion are always at the back of one’s mind. If your enterprise had a rocky start, you need to have some optimism to foster the growth of your investments. After all, you’ll never know what you might accomplish if you never try. Crystal Clear is a prime example of this. It started in 1990 and has come a long way over 23 years. Now, it’s the leading water brand all over the country. You’ve likely run into Crystal Clear at some point whether it’s in your own home, the home of a friend, or a business you’ve associated with. They’re prolific when it comes to providing top quality drinking water to as many people as possible. In fact, they’ve even expanded to have a branch in Africa. How did they gain such a measure of success?

To begin with, you should know how fast your franchise should expand. “It is important to have systems in place before expansion,” advises Asun Soler, the Corporate Communication Manager of  Solerex Water Technologies Inc. which serves as the mother company to Crystal Clear . “There should be a proof of concept that the franchise system works and that the corporation operates company owned stores.” There’s an emphasis here on being able to “put your money where your mouth is.” You have to have a solid base before you consider expansion. Soler also talks about considerations for the number of branches to open when expanding: “We believe in economies of scale to maximize your resources. We have several franchisees that own multiple stores and have seen the growth and changes in their lives.” A franchisee can eventually open more than just one store but they have to think about how much they can bring to the table first. Be sure that your branches can be sustainable. It’s better to have one profitable and sustainable branch rather than two that provide difficulty in earning a profit because they cost too much to run without giving sufficient returns.

Once you’ve figured out the right way to create several sustainable branches, your venture may soon follow Crystal Clear ’s success in expanding overseas. “We have a branch in Sierra Leone, West Africa,” says Asun. “The Crystal Clear Water Store is located at Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone.” This is definitely Filipino business taken to the next level. The decision to expand to Africa was not made lightly. “We have noted the growth in the Sub Saharan part of Africa and are always on the lookout for opportunities,” explains Asun. “Our Sierra Leone branch is growing steadily and many neighbouring countries have visited the store to look at how they can bring in Crystal Clear to their country.”

Crystal Clear identified a need in the desert region even if it meant venturing out of their geographical comfort zone. This is the sort of mindset one must take when expanding a franchise. Think about your location and target market. Will you be fulfilling a need and drawing in more customers by setting up a branch in a particular place frequented by a particular type of people?  “Crystal Clear Water Stores are located in community areas,” discloses Asun as she describes priority areas for Crystal Clear branches. “The community should have at least 250-300 households for the residential market and nearby offices. “ Based on this statement, it’s apparent that Crystal Clear knows how to properly evaluate an area before investing in establishing a branch.

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