Twice a year, easyStorage brings self storage franchisees and easyStorage leadership team together for regional forums that foster collaboration and drive progress. I recently spoke with James Thomas, Head of UK Franchising at easyStorage, to learn more about these invaluable meetings for easyStorage.
The regional forums provide a structured approach to communication within the franchise network. By organising franchisees into intimate geographic groups, each forum empowers participants to actively engage in discussions about their own self storage businesses. As James explained, "Regional forums encourage participation from all our franchisees, not just the most outspoken." The intimate setting makes franchisees feel comfortable sharing ideas, asking questions, and weighing in on business initiatives and strategies.
Franchisees appreciate the opportunity to provide direct feedback in a smaller group. The regional structure creates an environment where everyone has a voice. Quieter franchisees who might not speak up in a national forum are able to contribute meaningfully. According to James, the regional approach ensures that:
"we encourage every franchisee to be comfortable to voice their opinions in a more relaxed setting."
The forums also allow candid back-and-forth discussions between franchisees and key senior team members. The conversations are collaborative, not one-sided. James noted that the forums provide a chance for franchisees to "workshop ideas both as a peer network and also with key members of the internal team."
The smaller regional groups allow franchisees to build relationships around their shared experience operating self storage franchises.
"In-person meetings allow for meaningful relationship building within the network"
Franchisees connect one-on-one and in groups, getting to know peers who understand the day-to-day realities of running a mobile storage business.
These personal connections foster an open, collaborative environment. Franchisees form bonds with others who face similar challenges and opportunities. The relationships then can go beyond this and James highlighted how this allows franchisees to "start to build up internal relationships" within easyStorage and is especially useful for newer franchisees like Huddersfield.
Franchisees also gain early exposure to new ideas where they can get an insight into what is being developed and offer ideas before anything is finalised.
"The forums give franchisees early buy-in to upcoming changes in easyStorage."
Every franchisee's constructive criticism is highly valued by the franchisor and helps align changes with real needs in the field. As James noted, involving franchisees allows for
"crowdsourcing good ideas and input from the network."
One major focus area of the forums is collaborating on improving operations and profitability for the franchisees.
Regional input helps adapt pricing approaches and other initiatives to local self storage market conditions. Franchisees know their markets best. Their perspectives ensure corporate strategies translate effectively on the ground in different areas all over the UK.
James also discussed how franchisees develop innovative partnerships that become best practices for the broader network. He provided one example from the Hertfordshire franchise: "Innovative partnerships like with Kitchen fitters Howdens create win-win scenarios for franchisees."
By collaborating with complementary businesses, self storage franchisees can expand their customer base and uncover new revenue streams. Local partnerships that work can be replicated by franchisees nationwide, multiplying their impact. James cited partnerships as a key way the forums create value:
"It gives us the regional diversity from what we don't necessarily see from a running pilot franchise in London."
The regional forums conclude by distilling insights from the self storage network into concrete action plans. As James stated:
"Concrete action plans empower collective progress across regions."
Rather than vague intentions, the meetings produce clear follow-up steps for both head office and individual franchises.
Each forum results in a detailed action plan that is subsequently shared across the network. James explained that after the forums, "There is a 10-page document that's going to be supplementing post-regional forums, which will give each of the franchisees who are in different locations a full holistic view of what the other franchisees discussed, where the conversation was steered, and more importantly, each and every action that's come from all of those points raised."
The action plans compile initiatives identified at the four regional meetings into one master list. James emphasised how important this is:
"It's integral for any meeting structure that you have. Because it's all well and good talking about something in a meeting and having a working group, but if nothing ever changes as a result of it, you're always going to be doing the same things within the business."
By distilling insights into concrete follow-ups, the franchise network makes measurable progress. The actions touch all areas, from improving the use of new technologies to rolling out policy changes to forming innovative local partnerships. James added that the plans allow easyStorage to "level up and build on the business structure."
Post-forum reports provide transparency on the action plans and track progress over time. James explained,
"Letting the franchisees know after in a timely fashion what progress on each of those actions is and how they can get involved and support the process."
The regular updates keep both head office and franchisees accountable. All stakeholders take ownership of their role in bringing action items to fruition. James described this continuous loop as: "360 management of the business, using franchisees, internal head office staff and overall business goals to get to a combined objective."
Franchisees assist with items requiring local input and connections, while head office. spearheads overarching initiatives. James emphasised that "franchises get early buy-in to some of the changes that are upcoming in the business, and also gives us the chance to crowdsource good ideas and input from the network." The collaborative model ensures follow-through and a joint belief in new changes.
According to James, combining clear actions and ongoing communication:
"helps franchisees actively want to work together and share best practices and build stronger, better businesses together."
The forums kickstart progress that is sustained across the self storage network.
At their core, the regional forums reinforce the easyStorage franchise model. Our collaborative structure allows the network to continuously evolve to meet the changing needs of the self storage sector. Franchisees contribute meaningfully to strategic decisions.
For those exploring self storage franchise ownership, easyStorage provides a supportive yet empowering opportunity. Our collaborative network model enables franchisees to benefit from shared knowledge while pursuing individual success. If you're interested in joining our team, the regional forums demonstrate the advantage of our approach. When it comes to self storage solutions, easyStorage leads through cooperation.
We encourage you to learn more and start a conversation about franchising with us today. Investing in an easyStorage franchise provides the satisfaction of business ownership with the support of a collaborative network behind you
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