Finding the right franchise may be one of the most challenging decisions in your entire career. There are so many franchises to choose from that it can be a little overwhelming. In order to help you out, we've compiled this brief guide to choosing the right franchise.
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But first, we look at the advantages and disadvantages of starting a franchise so you can be confident that you are making the right decision. Whilst choosing the right franchise in the right sector is incredibly important, before that is making sure that franchising is the best business move for you in the first place. Whether it’s checking you’ve got the right personality for it, or the appropriate funds, there are many factors to consider before you take the plunge.
Advantages of Starting a Franchise
• Operate under an established brand that is already well known
The business model, concept and operational processes have already been tried and tested, and most likely successfully replicated, in a number of other locations. This takes much of the risk out of starting a business.
As the franchise is already established, you won’t have to spend as much time and money on building the brand. It should already be known and trusted by potential customers. Even if you launch in an area where the customers haven’t heard of the brand, the fact that they can go online and see reviews from customers in different locations around the UK will help reassure them it’s a less risky decision.
• More security and support
Franchisees usually have access to a comprehensive training programme and receive ongoing support in numerous aspects of the business, including managing staff, business development and maximising sales. This, and the fact that you are operating under an established brand, makes it a more secure option.
• Connections in the industry
When you start a franchise, you can make the most of the franchisor’s already established business relationships with supplier and marketing teams.
Disadvantages of Starting a Franchise
• You don’t always get the final say
The main drawback to choosing the franchise route is that the franchisee is not in complete control of how the business is run. This has already been laid out in the franchise agreement. Of course, you can share your business ideas with the franchisor, but ultimately how the business operates is outlined by the brand already.
• The success or fail of other franchisees can affect you
You can’t guarantee that the other franchisees won’t damage the reputation of the brand in any way. Like we’ve mentioned, one of the main benefits of franchising is operating under a reputable brand that people already trust. So, if another franchisee taints the brand’s reputation, this could seriously impact your number of sales and profitability.
• Having to use certain suppliers
Of course, when you are running a business, you want to keep costs as low as possible. One way this can be achieved is by finding the cheapest suppliers, which in turn will reduce your overheads and maximise profits.
However, when you run a franchise, you will normally need to use the supplier that the franchisor chooses. Not only is this a lack of control, but also lowers potential profits.
How to Choose the Right Franchise
Know what you want
If you’re considering buying a franchise, the first step is self-evaluation. What do you want? What do you want from your business? What is your priority – financial stability, flexibility or the challenge of running your own business? Everyone gets into franchising for different reasons and it’s a good idea to understand your own motivations before you commit to any particular franchise.
Knowing what you want means asking a few simple questions of yourself. Do you want to work full-time or part-time? Do you want a business where you’re on the frontline or do you want to step back and manage? How much are you willing to invest? What returns do you want from your investment?
If you can answer all of these questions, you’ll begin to get a clearer picture of what you want and what franchise might be the right fit. Unless you know what kind of business is going to satisfy you, your search for the ideal franchise will be difficult.
Know what you’re good at
As well as knowing what you want, it’s important to know what you’re good at. Unfortunately, these two aren’t always the same thing. You can be amazing with numbers but find accounting the dullest job around. If this is the case, you’ll have to come to some kind of compromise and try to work out which is more important to you.
If you do find yourself in the fortunate position of being able to pursue a job that you’re both good at and derive pleasure from, you’re in the perfect position. Remember, the best franchises for you are those that you both excel in and enjoy. It’s the magic combination.
Passion over profit
Though you may think it would be difficult to decide between a franchise that you’re incredibly passionate about and a franchise that has the potential to earn you a lot of money, it’s not. Go for passion over profit every time.
This is good advice for a number of reasons. First and foremost, if you don't have any passion for your work, you're going to find it very difficult to succeed as a franchisee. Every franchise business opportunity depends on a franchisee who is willing to sacrifice a great deal to make the business work. This level of dedication is very difficult to achieve without passion.
Secondly, a more profitable franchise may be better in the short term but in the long run, you're likely to struggle to maintain it. With franchisees who have no passion for their industry, careers are generally short. There's no reason to go on beyond the shortest period possible. The mantra here is ‘get in, get your money and get out'. While there's nothing necessarily wrong with this, it does not constitute a long-term business plan. When you're working on a labour of love, you can sustain momentum for longer.
Don’t rush it
If a franchise promises immediate profitability or a sure-fire shortcut to riches, steer clear. Franchising isn’t some kind of magic business model that can conjure profits out of thin air. Like any other type of business, it depends on hard work and dedication. There’s no such thing as a ‘get rich quick’ scheme and if that’s all you’re looking for, you might be in the wrong business.
Instead, look for a franchise that has a well-described and carefully constructed business plan. You want realistic steps towards success and a clear vision, not vague allusions to the millions you’ll soon be earning as a result of becoming the newest member of the franchise.
Meet the franchisor
All franchisees need to meet the franchisor before they begin considering whether or not a franchise is right for them. The franchisor/franchisee relationship is so essential to a successful franchise unit that it needs to be one of the key factors that influence your decision.
While talking to your franchisor over the phone is a good start, it is necessary to meet them in person. You can tell a lot about a person when you meet them in the flesh and your feelings towards an individual can differ quite drastically. Body language is an important means of determining whether or not you consider someone honest or not. Likewise, having a short, face-to-face conversation will tell you more about your compatibility than hours chatting on the phone.
Speak to existing franchisees
It's also important that you speak to existing franchisees. Any franchisor with nothing to hide will be happy to provide you with a full list of current franchisees and their contact information. If they encourage you to speak to a specific franchisee, you need to be aware that there's a good chance you're speaking to the franchise's official cheerleader. Take what they say with a pinch of salt and ask to speak to a franchisee of your choosing. However, most franchisees will be honest about how their relationship with the franchisor has turned out.
Know your way out
Finally, it's important to think about how you're going to make your exit if everything goes wrong. No one wants to start their role as owner of a new business by thinking about what happens if it fails – but you should. A good franchise opportunity won't punish you for stepping away if things don't go to plan, unless the failings can be specifically attributed to you.
Different franchises suit different people. What is good for one person is not necessarily good for another and potential franchisees need to be looking for an opportunity that best suits them. Finding the right franchise is not about identifying the biggest money spinner, it’s about finding a franchise that you’re passionate about, that suits your management style and that you make a long-term commitment to.
Becky Martin, Point Franchise ©