What support should you expect from the franchisor?

07/06/2018 08:00 | Start a business

What franchise training and support you should expect

One of the key advantages of the franchise model is the level of support, guidance, and assistance franchisees can expect from the franchisor. In many instances, a franchisor will offer a support regime that's truly exceptional. In such cases, being a franchisee isn't just profitable, it's also educational. However, some franchisors will offer very little support. How you establish what level of support you can expect can be challenging. Here, we take a look at the different types of support on offer and explain why they're beneficial.

What do you need to need to know about franchise support?

When it comes to franchisor support, there are a few things you need to understand before you worry about expectations. First and foremost, its important to recognise that the level of support you receive will vary from franchise to franchise. Each business will implement a support system that reflects their interests, needs and goals. To a large extent, support will also depend on the financial capabilities of the franchise. A well-established, resource-rich franchise can dedicate a great deal of time and money to ensuring that their franchise units receive the support and training they require. A new, or under-resourced franchise, may not be in the position to do so.

Secondly, the support structure will be established in the franchise agreement, alongside clauses relating to the franchise fee and what responsibilities each party has to one another. In theory, this means that prospective franchisees should be able to find out what level of support they can expect to receive. However, what a franchise promises and what a franchise delivers, arent always the same thing. Consequently, its a good idea to talk to existing franchisees before signing the franchise agreement. More often than not, theyll provide you with an honest account of how much support they received from the franchisor.

Different types of support

1. Financing
Though it wont always be the case, some good franchises may be able to assist you in acquiring the finance necessary to start your franchise unit. This typically occurs in two ways. First, many franchises work together, or partner, with major lenders to ensure that suitable franchisees can find the level investment they require. This is particularly true of franchises that are affiliated with the British Franchising Association (bfa). Second, some franchises will be willing to assist in the writing of a franchise business plan to present to lenders. In this instance, the franchisors experience and expertise can prove invaluable.

2. Selecting a site
Selecting a good location and developing it in the right way is integral to the success of a business. If your business isnt ideally positioned to attract sufficient customers, its highly likely that it wont succeed. Consequently, franchises often support their new franchisees in finding a suitable site and preparing it for business. In some cases, they may outsource this process to a knowledgeable, local real estate agent. In others, they'll perform it in-house. If they do partner with an outside organisation, it will typically be with one that has experience of both franchising and the specific industry youre operating in.

3. Initial Training
The vast majority of franchises will put new franchisees through an extensive training programme. Very few franchisors expect their new team members to have experience in the industry, so this training acts as an essential introduction. For franchisors, its also a way of ensuring that standards are maintained across the entire franchise network. The initial training period will vary in length depending on the complexity of business operations, how much information the franchisor wants to impart, and the level of spending they're willing to dedicate to training. Common training topics include marketing, advertising, financial management, business management, how to operate digital systems, and how to hire and train staff, amongst other things.

4. Ongoing Training
Many franchises, particularly those that encourage networking among members, offer ongoing training opportunities to their franchisees. These can take the form of workshops, seminars, or conferences, and attendance may be compulsory or voluntary. Franchisors may also play a role in the training of new staff. Though the majority of franchises leave this up to the franchisee. However, in specific industries, it's normal for the franchisor to invest in further employee training, to ensure that standards of service are maintained across the board.

5. Guidance, support, and assistance
Besides official training events, most franchises will offer their franchisees ongoing guidance and support throughout the franchise agreement. In many cases, the franchisor will designate a specific member of their management team to liaise with and support a new franchisee. The nature of this relationship will vary depending on the franchisors management style. In some cases, the franchisor will ask an experienced franchisee to act as a mentor to a newer franchisee, while in others theyll use one of their management team. However, its important for franchisees to understand that they can also look for support outside of the established franchise structure you may have previous business partners that can offer guidance, or friends and family may be in a position to help.

6. Marketing and advertising
Finally, the majority of franchises will maintain control over national advertising and marketing campaigns. In large part, this is due to a desire to retain control over how the brand presents itself to the general public. However, franchisees are often responsible for local campaigns. In this respect, theyll receive guidance or pre-made manufacturing materials. Again, this has a lot to do with how the business trademarks are used and how the franchise markets itself.

Not all franchises are alike. One of the primary ways they differ is the amount of support they're able and willing to give. The different types of support we've listed above are the main ways in which a franchisee can expect help. Not every franchisor will provide all of them, and some may supply none. However, before you sign a franchise agreement, it's vital that you understand precisely what is being offered by your chosen franchisor.

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