Franchising – Pick a good one!

Franchising – Pick a good one!

By Ed Hanna

With a somewhat overwhelming array of franchising options to choose from, Civvy Street Magazine looks at the variables Service-leavers should factor in as they decide which franchise to go for.

Something you want to do

Even if you’ve decided to purchase a franchise, there are still questions to ask yourself. This might start with what type of industry or sector you want to operate in but should also include how you literally want to spend your working days, considering whether you want to be driving, selling or managing people, etc. Furthermore, do you want to work in a shop, office or outdoors, on just certain days or all week, and with other people or on your own?

Franchising

Perhaps the singular advantage of a franchise is that it’s a way to buy into an existing brand – giving you a head start in terms of recognition and reputation. You, the franchisee, pay a licence fee and give back a portion of the profits (to the franchisor) for the privilege. However, there are no guarantees in business and you should do at least some background research on the overall sector or industry type you’re interested in. Find out how the industry is performing and what the experts are saying about its future – which is the same as finding out what they think of ‘your future’.

Experience

It’s also important that you select a franchise that is suitable for you. It may be that you choose to take on something related to your Army trade, perhaps in car maintenance, for example. This is fine since there are plenty of car maintenance franchises around and you already have experience and presumably an interest in the field.

However, with plenty of choice around it can be tempting to dive into something that you think is going to make you money quickly, or abundantly or that you think will provide you with an easy lifestyle. All employed people will tell you that doing something you like is far easier (irrespective of reward) than doing something you hate and all franchisees will tell you that there ‘is no free lunch’ and that ‘easy’ doesn’t come into it if you do it properly.

Credibility

Do your homework. Search for feedback on any company you are considering joining. This could include speaking with their competition to get a different perspective.

The British Franchise Association (Bfa) is one of the organisations Serviceleavers can turn to in order to find good quality franchise packages. Professional Affiliation to the Bfa is open to professional advisors who have been accredited on the basis of their proven professional skills and the successful application of those skills to franchising and include legal and financial advisors. This is another great resource, especially for Service-leavers with little or no business experience.

Visits

One of the hallmarks of a confident, credible and well organised franchise business is how open they are to enquiries from potential franchisees. Make a point of visiting the franchisor in person since a website or telephone number is certainly not all that makes a business. Observations made on a visit can be hugely telling. You’re going to have to do a lot of learning from them, especially as you start out so getting along is going to be important.

The best people to speak with regarding the day-to-day business are of course, the franchisees. Again, credible franchise companies should encourage you to take a good look at what you’re aiming to be part of. It’s an opportunity to assess whether the values of the business are as you thought they were, as well as what the nitty-gritty is really like.

Territory

Most franchisees cover a set area or region, known as a territory. Discuss the proposed territory carefully with the franchisor as well as doing your own homework, including an assessment of the competition. Your franchisor should have been through this process before and so should be expected to help – not least because your success, adds to their success.

Potential

Compare start-up costs and what’s included very carefully. Ask difficult questions where needs be and ask for real life evidence of success from current franchisees.

The franchisor should be in a position to discuss figures including gross profit margins and perhaps show you the books that confirm that their projections are correct. This is a process sometimes known as due diligence.

Available Support

The support given to you by the franchisor is likely to be the key to your success. That’s the real point of franchising: a winning formula, replicated.

You may have absolutely no commercial experience but that’s not going to be a problem if the training and support from the franchisor is anywhere decent. Find out how the franchisor will provide the allimportant training and share experiences and best practice among franchisees – perhaps at a sales conference or online forum. Also look at the marketing support and any financial expertise on offer. This will indicate how much the company are investing into helping you succeed.

Professional Advice

Your franchise agreement could be 80 pages long and contain enough legal speak to last you a lifetime. You need to instruct a solicitor to act on your behalf. Furthermore, that solicitor should be ‘specialist’ in franchising and understand the nature of the industry. (Specialist franchising solicitors are not difficult to find.)

Once you’ve signed, the rest is largely up to you and how much you really want to succeed.

More:

British Franchise Association
www.thebfa.org