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KFC’s Great Recipe for Franchising Success

KFC’s Great Recipe for Franchising Success

There is no magic formula to success - especially, an exponential one, at that. Often, it is a product of doing something simple yet important but with religious regularity. In the case of the phenomenal franchising growth of Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC), the simple-yet-important act is: facilitating knowledge sharing among franchisees.

Consider the success of KFC first. This US restaurant is today present in over 22,000 locations across 150 countries. Next to McDonald’s KFC is the second-largest restaurant chain in the world. It directly employs over 10 lakh people, who serve nearly one crore customers a day, and over 100 crore "finger-lickin' good" dinners in a year.

Now, the recipe for franchising success: To begin with KFC was once a petrol bunk. The founder, Harland Sanders, cooked and served food to the hungry travelers, more or less like a friendly gesture. Soon, he realized that people came to his location more for his fried chicken than for fuel. So, he opened a full-fledged restaurant, closing down the bunk.

When his signature fried chicken, which he would later name Kentucky, after its home State, became very famous, he made a deal with local restaurants to sell his chicken in exchange for a royalty fee (“4 cents per piece”). Sanders perfected the art of pressure-cooking his fried chicken with 11 secret herbs and spices. KFC was consistent everywhere.

At the age of 40, he started the restaurant, and at 62, he began his franchising journey. In a matter of a few years, he had over 600 franchisees. Then, when was 73 years old, he allowed a venture capital firm to take over KFC.

Till he died at the age of 90, he traveled 2,50,000 miles every year as KFC Ambassador, meeting franchises spread across the US, Canada, and other parts of the world, learning what works in one restaurant, and passing on the knowledge to others - in what was a great way of leveraging the strength of the growing network, and tapping the collective wisdom for mutual benefits. Sanders was also quality-conscious - he considered profit merely incidental, say, a byproduct of serving good food.

The secret recipes for every franchise success are not the same but most often they are simple yet important acts done passionately, and regularly, with a win-win in mind.

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