Franchising 101: The Official Franchise Start Up Checklist (Part 1)

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franchising checklist

Considering starting your own franchise? Look no further than our definitive franchise start-up check list. Follow this to be sure you don’t miss any important stages out.

The franchising industry is booming. There are almost 50,000 franchise businesses in the UK that together contribute more than £17 billion and 710,000 jobs to our economy (both up 14 percent since 2015) (The British Franchise Association/ NatWest Franchise Survey 2018). If you too want to reap the benefits that running a successful franchise has to offer, it’s important to consider each decision in the set-up process very carefully - research should become your best friend. To make sure that you’ve got all your bases covered before jumping into your franchise adventure, we’ve created the definitive franchise start-up checklist.

Setting up a franchise can be a stressful process and one where it feels like there are a million and one things to do. Using this resource should make the process as simple and straightforward as possible. These 12 steps are based on advice from the British Franchise Association.

The official franchise start-up checklist

1. Use information provided by the British Franchise Association

The British Franchise Association (BFA) is the ‘voice of ethical franchising in the UK’. You can visit its website for lots of helpful tips about the franchising process and the latest industry news. We recommend always choosing a franchise that is a BFA member; this way you can be confident that it is sustainable, ethical and free of misleading statements. You can read more about why you should choose a BFA-approved franchise here.

2. Complete the BFA’s free Prospect Franchisee Certificate

The video-based course helps provide an overview of what it takes to succeed in the franchise industry and helps prepare you for the franchise journey.

3. Establish what you can afford

Franchises vary drastically in investment levels. Instead of being attracted by a low franchise fee, make sure you find out what the total start-up fee is. From the very beginning, you need to work out how much you can invest and how much you are prepared to borrow. Don’t forget about working capital too.

For franchising newbies, understanding franchise investments can be confusing. If you’re in need of some clarity, we have a handy article unpicking the real cost of a franchise.

4. Self-reflect on your own skills and what you want to achieve

Ask yourself what you’re good at, what you enjoy and whether you have any personal circumstances that will prevent you from doing something. If you love interacting with the public, then a customer-facing business could be perfect. But if you are more introverted and prefer working on your own, this type of franchise might not work.

The beauty of franchising is that you can making a living from something you’re passionate about while being your own boss. And with full support and training, you can try a completely new career path.

Franchisors will often evaluate the support you will have from friends and family as part of their recruitment process, so it’s important to bear this in mind when choosing a franchise.

5. Perform thorough research into the market

It’s not uncommon for aspiring franchise owners to hit the ground running without having a full understanding of the business and the market it operates in. Speak to the different trade associations that are appropriate for the franchises you are considering. For instance, if you are considering starting a jewellery franchise, you could get in touch with the National Association of Jewellers.

6. Attend a discovery day

After you’ve chosen the franchise you want to go for, you can attend a Discovery Day. It’s a great way to find out more about the opportunity and who’s involved. Take time to prepare questions, as the more prepared you are, the more you’ll get from it – and the more you’ll stand out as a serious candidate to the franchisor.

7. Know the franchise opportunity inside out

You need to undertake due diligence on the franchise opportunity you choose. Only once you have assessed and re-assessed the opportunity can you continue the steps to making your dream a reality. Investing in a franchise is a long-term commitment that shouldn’t be taken lightly.

  • Speak to franchisees. We recommend speaking to current and previous franchisees to get a real sense of what owning your own business with the brand will be like. Don’t just accept a few names that the franchisor gives you, as the franchisor might have cherrypicked the most successful.
  • Speak to the franchisor. Be wary of anything they avoid answering or if anything seems too good to be true.
  • Understand the franchise. At the very least, you need to know the ongoing fees, the daily operations and the training and support provided.

Read our 50 questions to ask before you buy a franchise – these involve what you should ask yourself, the franchisor and the franchisees. You can also check out the Quality Franchise Association’s (QFA) franchise guide that will point you in the right direction.

8. Seek professional advice

It’s a good idea to use the services of BFA-accredited professional advisors who are experts in franchising. This way, you can be sure you are on the right track and won’t have any nasty surprises further down the line. This is essential when you have chosen which franchise to join and go to sign the franchise agreement.

9. Get funding

If you’re eager to own your own franchise but don’t have the set-up capital, there are plenty of funding options to support you. Learn more here. This article answers the question: ‘How can you start a franchise with no money?’

10. Choose the right location

You need to find a premises that will have enough foot traffic for your business to remain profitable and has parking spaces nearby. Remember that saving money on rent by setting up outside of a city might have negative consequences when no customers want to visit. See our guide to choosing the perfect location for your franchise here.

11. Complete the franchise training

Depending on the franchisor, this might be before you sign the lease for the premises or while you’re looking for one.

12. Familiarise yourself with the franchise operations manual

Finally, there are lots of important rules and regulations in the franchise manual that you need to keep in mind. Hopefully, you should have already spent time reviewing it but, if you’ve only had a quick scan, now is the time to get up to scratch. This way, you can ensure you comply with policies when you launch.

If you use this franchise start-up check list, you should be on the right track to franchise success. Don’t forget to make the most of free resources from reputable franchising associations like the BFA and QFA. Seeking professional advice is a good idea throughout the process, but particularly when it comes to signing the franchise agreement. We have a section of our website dedicated to the steps involved in setting up a franchise with the corresponding articles. You can view it here.

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