Is franchising right for you? An expert guide from the BFA

Is franchising right for you? An expert guide from the BFA

Off By Ed Hanna

When considering buying a franchise, it is imperative to do your research, not only regarding the businesses that catch your eye but also working out if franchising is for you in the first place.

By Pip Wilkins, CEO of the BFA

Am I suited to being a franchisee?
Franchising is unlike any other area of business. Yes, you will own your own business (or at least the legal agreement to run that business, for the length of time stipulated on the franchise agreement), that you can build to be a large successful business, but did you know you will also be bound by strict rules about how you run the business on a day-to-day basis?

Follow the franchise model
During training you will be taught how to run your business in minute detail, plus, be given access to an online franchise manual that will cover every aspect of the business, from how to do ‘the job/service’ and to how to deal with advertising and marketing and accounts, etc. There will be standardised forms, templates and systems for you to use and it is imperative that you follow the franchise model as laid down by your franchisor.  

Those who don’t, either fail or end up in court, in breach of their franchise agreement. It is a non-negotiable part of owning a franchise. 

Upholding the franchise brand integrity
You may ask why it is important to have such strict rules? The beauty of a franchise is that to the customer, you appear to be part of one large national company, so it is important the customer gets the same standard and service from every single branch. For example, you wouldn’t expect your local McDonald’s to start selling cheese on toast just because the franchisee felt like, it would you? It’s all about brand integrity. Someone playing fast and loose with the rules, risks bringing the entire network into disrepute, which is why franchisors take such care in awarding new territories.

Tried and tested franchise models
One of the main reasons why franchisees must stick to the rules is quite simply because they work. Your franchisor will have spent many years building up the business and has made all the mistakes; they know what works and what doesn’t. The whole point of buying a franchise is to gain access to their ‘tried and tested’ methods; if any part of you thinks that once you’ve bought your territory, you’ll be able to bend the rules and do things ‘your way’, then franchising isn’t for you.

Suited to franchising
The best franchisees are those who are brave, ambitious and willing to work hard with the franchisor’s support to build themselves a very successful business. They truly appreciate the franchise model and can see that, if followed correctly, it works. Some ‘get’ franchising so well that they go on to be single brand multi-unit owners or even multi brand, multi-unit owners, who gain huge success simply repeating a franchise model time after time.

The BFA, your friend in franchising
The British Franchise Association (BFA) was founded in 1977 to bring self-regulation to the UK franchise industry. We have exceptionally high standards and are considered the ‘go to’ place for advice in the industry. We currently have over 300 franchisors listed on our website who, after rigorous investigation from a legal and financial point of view, have been found to be running their franchises in a professional, ethical manner. 

Visit our website to see the range of opportunities available from our approved members.

Case Study – James Beech, Radfield Home Care franchisee

Formerly of the Cheshire Regiment, Captain James Beech is now the proud owner of a Radfield Home Care franchise. James talks us through his decision to invest in a home care franchise, what he loves about being a franchise owner and the advice he would give to prospective franchisees. 

How did you find your franchise?  
Initially, an internet search to explore the potential opportunities. After making tentative initial enquiries, I quickly found a franchise that was particularly responsive and engaging, that also very much shared my values. I did some due diligence by speaking to other people running similar franchises.

I bought the Stamford, Peterborough and Rutland territory of Radfield Home Care.

How did you know it was the right franchise for you? 
I chose the home care sector because the industry dynamics are strong – people are living longer and wanting to remain living independently at home. I had worked in the healthcare sector for 10 years, so elements of the industry were familiar, and the franchise provided the extra level of detailed knowledge that I needed. Running my franchise utilised the broad range of managerial, commercial and leadership skills that I had developed over the years.

I chose Radfield Home Care specifically, because we had shared values. They are family oriented and focussed on providing great service, not just making money. I found them to be an engaging and responsive provider during the enquiry process and of course, I did plenty of  due diligence by speaking with others in the industry. 

Why do you think ex-Military personnel make good franchisees? 
Military people tend to be well organised and good communicators. In the early days of starting a business, resilience is crucial. In the Military you learn to be resilient and resourceful and to find ways of getting the job done and coping with setbacks. 

Some people tend to think that the Military is about following instructions. While that’s true to an extent, there is also a huge emphasis on using initiative, responding to changing situations and thinking for oneself.  Leadership skills and teamwork are also key, and the Military thrives on these.   

What do you enjoy about being a franchisee?
There are a number of things I love about being a franchisee. Firstly, the independence I feel at owning and managing my own business, closely followed by the confidence I feel using a tried and tested formula, so the chances of success are much higher. I also love knowing that I have the backup of the franchisor. While the franchise fees can sometimes seem high, you effectively have a scale of ‘back office’ support that you wouldn’t be able to replicate locally. 

What advice would you give to someone about to leave the Forces?
Find a franchise partner who shares your values. The best way to achieve financial success is to deliver a great service and have a great reputation. Choose a sector that you have some familiarity with. Do your due diligence, check out the industry and local competition, your franchise partner, and be prepared for hard work.