Catering Services: What Franchises Are There in the UK?

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catering services

If you’ve always fancied operating your own catering business, franchising may well be the best way of realising your dreams. Here, we take a look at what franchise opportunities there are in the UK and what you need to think about before you sign a franchise agreement.

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Home catering services

The catering sector generates roughly £1.4 billion in revenue every year and employs more than 28,200 individuals. Though recent years have proven volatile, the future is bright for the sector, and the industry is expected to grow over the next decade. If Brexit is to occur, changes to food safety restrictions may make it easier for catering businesses to operate, though there are also concerns that supply chains will be impacted.

Catering services London

In London, there is a catering business on every almost every street, but relatively few catering franchises. The one exception to this is Jasper’s – a thriving catering brand. By far the biggest franchise brand on the market, they’re the business to look to if you’re considering opening your own franchise unit.

Five things you need to consider when opening a catering franchise

If you’re opening a catering franchise, there are a few important considerations to make. These are the same things that most franchisees, whether they’re in the catering or tech industries, will be forced to think about at one time or another, so the lessons learned are applicable across industries.

1. Do you want to join an established franchise?

At the very start of your quest to become the owner of a highly successful franchise, it's necessary to ask yourself one question in particular. Do you want to join an established franchise that's well known, already boasts a large number of franchisees, and is likely to be a little more expensive? Or would you rather join a small, up-and-coming franchise that's more of a risk but may also prove more of a reward?

There are advantages and disadvantages to both paths but, as a franchisee, you need to be sure that you’re heading in the right direction before you commit yourself to either option. Remember – while bigger franchises are a safer bet, they also cost more. Though smaller, newer franchises are riskier, if everything goes to plan, the pay out could be more substantial.

2. How much support will you need?

All entrepreneurs have developed different talents and skills, so some will require support and guidance in areas that other franchisees can handle on their own. Recognising your strengths and weaknesses is an important stage in business planning, as it allows you to identify those areas where you’ll need additional help or advice.

The franchisee support system is one of the largest advantages of the franchising system. If you sign up with a good franchise, you’ll receive a great deal of support walking you through the entire start-up process. This is ideal for those who aren’t confident in their abilities.

On the other hand, if you're more independent, you may find the attention of the franchisor a little stifling. Finding the right balance is about understanding your character and recognising that all franchises are different. Talking to existing franchisees and thoroughly researching franchises will give you a good idea of the interpersonal dynamics at play in each business and allow you to make a more informed decision.

3. How are you going to raise the necessary investment?

All franchisees need to consider how they can raise investment for their new franchise business venture. The most common means of raising capital is by applying for a loan with a major bank. Many franchises develop strong working relationships with certain lenders – this ensures that their franchisees can acquire funding when necessary.

However, capital can be acquired in numerous other ways, too. For instance, some franchisees try and raise investment from friends and family. While this typically only works if the investment required is relatively small, it can be a good way for parents or friends to invest their hard-earned savings.

Some lucky entrepreneurs already have the required investment and can go it alone without help from the bank. However, this can be risky, and all investors should consider whether they want to invest all of their own money in an enterprise.

4. Is there potential for growth?

Businesses grow in different ways and to different sizes. For instance, a van-based franchise may allow for growth by encouraging franchisees to add vehicles to their fleet. On the other hand, a fast food franchise may allow for growth by encouraging franchisees to expand and open up an entirely new franchise unit.

With most home catering franchises, there’s scope for growth and expansion. The franchisor will build a model that ensures successful franchisees can sign agreements to operate in new territories, allowing them to grow their businesses in this way.

However, franchisees need to be sure that there are sufficient opportunities to grow their business before signing any agreement. There’s nothing more disheartening than being held back by a franchise model that doesn’t encourage franchisees to expand their business as they develop.

5. What do you want from your business?

Perhaps most importantly, franchisees need to know what they want from a business before they commit to the franchise agreement. Franchises come in all shapes and sizes and require varying amounts of dedication and discipline. They also return different levels of profit.

Some will consume all of your time and effort but will provide you with a large salary, off of which you can live comfortably. Other franchises can be operated part-time, but may only generate a small income that will need to be supplemented if it’s to support your desired lifestyle.

Ensuring you understand what you need and want from your business will help you establish whether a franchise is wrong or right for you. Ultimately, would-be franchisees need to ask themselves whether a particular franchise is capable of helping them realise their goals. This is only possible if you know what your goals are.

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