The importance of innovation in business: advice on remaining relevant

By Sarah Stowe | 29 Oct 2015 View comments

In order to maintain relevance a franchise needs to embrace change, and what comes along with that is the need to embrace innovation.

If you’re afraid to go against the grain and mix up operations don’t be. Change is good. Innovation is better. That's the message from fellow franchisors.

Key figures from the business side of various franchises spoke at the Franchising Council of Australia’s event, Established Brands – Innovate or Perish, sharing their insights on the significance of innovation and gave tips on how to ensure relevance is never a problem for your franchise business.

Chris Mourd, head of real estate at LJ Hooker, Stephen Eyears, head of innovation at 7-Eleven and McDonald’s NSW field service manager cameron Newlands all spoke.

3 tips for improving your franchise business

1. Innovate your franchise, take action and don't rest on your laurels

For Cameron Newlands relevance is paramount and without relevance there’s barely a business.

“Food changes and is ever changing – innovation is key. You always want to remain relevant to your customers. You’ve got to embrace changes otherwise you risk irrelevance,” Newlands said.

The panel agreed that innovation is the scarcest resource, so it is important in this ever-changing climate to invest in the here, the now and the future.

It’s important to experiment and the panel agreed on the idea of avoiding anxiety over failing – it is completely normal and often leads to success.

2. Find opportunity and order in chaos

Chris Mourd spoke of his many failures which lead to positive outcomes in the business. He said that it’s fine to embrace chaos because once you deal with it you find where the gems and the diamonds are hidden. Essentially, get on with it, because failure can lead to success, he advised.

But where does inspiration come from? 7-Eleven’s head of innovation Stephen Eyears said that hiring disruptive people who are the innovators will deliver inspiration – avoid the conservative, afraid types.

3. Search for a steady pace

Remember to embrace change management and to celebrate it, too. That’s where the current success is bred and where future success is born.

Treat the following as franchise gospel: stick to what you know and what you’re good at, strategy and stringent attention to detail is vital and go slow with some things to find a manageable, steady pace.

4. Trust the risk in the innovation process

The panel talked about how you don't always have to invent a new process – if you see a good idea somewhere else it's okay to adopt it yourself.

Learn and tweak as you go – don’t wait until the end of the process.

Talk to consumers and franchisees, and move your ideas and processes along quickly.

Finally, consider abandoning the what-if-plan-A-doesn’t-work-so-I-need-a-plan-B notion. It hinders confidence, impedes on innovation and is a handbrake to success. Go for it and nail plan A.