New Franchisees: What Does Success Look Like in the First Year?

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Franchisee tasks in the first year

Being approved for a franchise opportunity, securing funding and setting up a business are achievements in themselves - but what about once launch day has passed? Here, we’re exploring what happens in the first year of franchising and how new franchisees can measure their success with a series of first-year goals. 

Becoming a franchisee is a great way to reduce risk when starting a business. In the UK, there are over 48,000 franchise units up and running, and six in 10 turn over more than £250,000. For people who want to be their own boss, franchising can offer the perfect solution. 

The model comes with many benefits, but it’s not a guarantee of success and the first 12 months can be tough, as with any business. Here’s how new franchisees can get off to a great start by setting franchising first-year goals. 

If you are a first-time business owner and you open any franchise, you must accept quickly that there is no magic bullet. You will face adversity, but you have to trust the process. There will be days you want to quit, but you must stay focused on the daily tasks that will allow you to achieve your goals for year two and beyond.
—Barry Bodiford, 360Clean Founder and CEO

Franchising first-year goals for new franchisees

1. Successfully adapting to the new lifestyle

Most new franchisees are prepared to follow the franchisor’s operations manual and stick to their approved strategies, but it may take a while to get used to a new lifestyle. If you’re coming from employment, you’ll need to change your mindset to think like a business owner, and adapt to an environment with more responsibility and less structure. 

In the first 12 months of owning a franchise unit, finding a healthy work-life balance can be hard. You’ll want to dedicate as much time as possible to building a thriving business, which can eat into your evenings and weekends as a new entrepreneur. Finding the balance and getting into a routine is one of the most important franchising first-year goals to pursue. 

2. Learning the franchise model inside out

Ideally, this step should be a priority on your to-do list, as you’ll need to start learning and memorising the business’s strategies as soon as you become a franchisee.

One way to complete this phase is to spend time with existing franchisees within the network. Many franchises give investors the chance to mingle and share insight by organising networking events, but you don’t get the opportunity, take a proactive approach and arrange meet-ups yourself. 

3. Mastering a marketing strategy

The franchisor should be able to roll out brand-wide marketing campaigns and help you develop materials for your local efforts. But you’ll need to do your research to find out what works in your territory. 

In order to stay one step ahead of the game, you could opt to do competitive analysis. You should identify your key business rivals and aim to understand their strengths and weaknesses. Consider their locations, product ranges, pricing structures, unique selling points and reputations. 

Combining this approach with your own marketing experimentation will help you improve your promotional strategies and reach your franchising first-year goals.

The first year is ‘first impression time’ for your guests. Impress them. Be present. Only you will love and hug your business the way it should be. Be passionate and market fiercely every day.
—Jack Gabriel, Nothing Bundt Cakes multi-unit franchisee

4. Developing relationships with business partners 

When you become a franchisee, you join an extensive business network, and although you may be working alone, you can benefit from the wisdom of those around you. 

While the franchisor may provide ongoing support, they might not go out of their way to keep a dialogue going, so you must put in the effort. Whether you choose to meet in person, or use video calls, phone calls or emails, you should try to discuss your progress with the franchisor regularly. 

Again, it’s also a great idea to network with other franchisees, so if you don’t get the chance to attend franchise events, make the first move yourself. 

5. Maintaining a positive cash flow

Recognising the importance of cash flow and tracking it efficiently is key to becoming a profitable business owner. In fact, failing to monitor the movement of funds is one of the most common reasons behind the downfall of new franchisees in their first 12 months. As a new franchisee, you need to know how your unit is performing financially at all times. 

If you’re spending more than you’re earning, you need to make changes to reduce your outgoings or boost your income. If you can’t reinvest in your unit, not only do you risk damaging your business in the short term, but you also jeopardise the longevity of the entire franchise network. 

Whether you use computer spreadsheets, cloud-based software or a trusty pen and paper, managing cash flow effectively should be a critical franchising first-year goal. 

6. Being able to appreciate successes and resting

It’s easy to become engrossed in running your franchise and forget to celebrate your successes. Launching a business and surviving its first year is an impressive feat, so take the time to appreciate how far you’ve come in 12 months. 

Although you may be focussing on your next moves and the milestones you have yet to reach, it’s important to take a step back and recognise your hard work. Thank friends and family for supporting you, enjoy the flexibility of your business model and use your increased personal income to improve your quality of life. And if you can do all these things, you’re probably in a good place. 

A franchisee’s first year is exciting, nerve-racking, exhilarating – all wrapped up into one. With a good franchising system, success will come by following the system with a strategic plan. There will be challenges and setbacks - some completely out of the franchisee’s control – but no matter how it comes about, perseverance will pay off.
—Lou Schager, Mosquito Joe President 

New franchisees - find more guidance at Point Franchise

If you’re just setting out on your franchise journey, there are plenty more informative articles to help you progress right here at Point Franchise. Browse our newest business guides or use the search box to find resources on a particular topic.

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