By Suzie McCafferty, managing director, Platinum Wave
Starting your own business is not easy. You have to come up with an idea for a product or service, learn how to market it, find the capital, employ people and perhaps find premises and lease vehicles. It is no wonder so many start-ups fail every year.
If you have just come out of the Forces it can be even harder as you don’t have that support network that the Military provides. However, there is a smarter way to start your own business and it’s called franchising.
Many people have a vague understanding of what a franchise is and there are many misconceptions about the idea. A franchise is an arrangement where one party (the franchisor) grants another party (the franchisee) the right to use its trademark or trade name as well as certain business and marketing systems and operational processes, to produce and market a product or service in accordance with the terms set out in a franchise agreement and franchise operations manual. The franchisee usually pays a one-time initial franchise fee in return for induction training, often an exclusive franchise territory, a five-year renewable franchise agreement and a business start up and launch package. Franchisees will normally pay a percentage of their sales revenue on a monthly basis in return for on-going operational and business support and training from the franchisor.
If you are leaving the Military with little or no commercial experience a franchise can literally provide you with a “business in a box”. It is like being your own boss but with a support network to help and guide you. The franchisor will have designed a system which if followed properly should provide you with a successful and profitable business. However, at the end of the day it is your business so the rewards will reflect how much hard work and effort you put in.
Most of us are familiar with the large high street franchises such as Subway and McDonalds but there are a huge variety of franchises in different sectors and investment levels to suit any budget. At last count the British Franchise Association estimated there are 930 franchise brands currently operating in the UK employing 561,000 people. Apart from the food sector there are franchises ranging from recruitment consultancies and letting agencies to children’s sports coaching, at home care, garden maintenance to magazine publishing. The cost of a franchise can range from under £10,000 to hundreds of thousands of pounds.
With such a huge variety of franchise business opportunities on offer choosing one can be a daunting task. A good starting point is to look at your skills and interests – maybe there’s a franchise which will complement them. Would you be happy in an office-based role or would you rather be out on the road visiting clients or in the outdoors, maintaining gardens. There is a wealth of information on franchise opportunities and a good place to start is the British Franchise Association website – www.thebfa.org. Here you’ll find information, advice and contact details on franchise organisations plus case studies on successful franchisees. It is also important to visit some of the main franchise shows to meet franchisors face to face. When you have whittled down your shortlist of possible franchise opportunities it is worthwhile attending a “Discovery Day”. Franchisors offer these as an opportunity for interested parties to find out about the franchise in more detail and speak to existing franchisees.
The financial rewards will vary according to the level of investment and type of franchise but the franchisor will usually offer some projections. It is important that you go over these with your professional adviser and see how they fit into your business plan.
How do you finance your franchise? Unless you have savings or perhaps a gratuity then you will have to borrow the money. Fortunately, the banks are more than willing to lend to franchise backed businesses as they have a much higher survival and success rate. The banks will lend up to 75% of the franchise fee and working capital requirement subject to their normal credit and lending criteria. Most of the high street banks have specialist franchise divisions which understand the sector so they should be your first port of call. Remember that very few businesses generate income from day one so ensure you have enough working capital and contingency funds to meet your business and personal costs until revenues start to come in.
Platinum Wave is recruiting franchisees for a number of leading franchise brands. To find out more please visit our website – www.platinumwave.co.uk – email firstname.lastname@example.org or call: 0131 664 1218.
About the Author
Suzie McCafferty is Managing Director of Platinum Wave, an independent BFA accredited franchise consultancy firm. She is regarded as one of the UK’s foremost franchising experts having worked in the sector for over 15 years. After successfully building her own international franchising networks and establishing multi-million pound companies through franchising, Suzie now specialises in helping other businesses to grow and develop through successful and sustainable franchising both in the UK and Internationally. Platinum Wave also provides franchisee recruitment services to a wide variety of franchise brands around the world.
A regular guest speaker at major franchising events, Suzie is an Affiliate member of the British Franchise Association and Chairs the Scottish Franchise Forum.