Is a franchise in your future?
Investigating franchise opportunities can often be overwhelming and time intensive. From attending conference calls and webinars to FDD reviews, financial modeling and validation calls, a prospective new franchise owner is often faced with an overload of information.
It is important to work through all information received in order to be able to make an educated decision about an opportunity, and a lot of time will be spent on benchmarking information received from the franchisor in the market as well as doing additional research on market feasibility, competitors and company positioning within its industry.
As candidates delve into the franchise discovery process, there is a key question that some forget to think about: When considering business ownership, many of us forget to look at an opportunity with the eye of an owner as opposed to an employee. We often believe that we must choose businesses in which we are adept in the services they provide. This is not always necessary.
For example, I presented a client of mine who was interested in running a high volume business with a repair & maintenance franchise. His initial reaction was that repair and maintenance would not be a good fit. He determined that he was not skilled in manual labor and did not really enjoy fixing things. What he forgot to consider is that as the owner of a repair & maintenance franchise, he is not the one fixing bathrooms or installing new plumbing. He is actually managing a team of contractors.
A successful franchisee in the repair & maintenance industry will possess strong people and communication skills, the ability to manage, motivate and retain his crews of contractors, excellent leadership skills, excellent customer service and the ability to network to grow the business. It is the soft skills and business acumen that will make you a successful franchise owner.
Therefore, keep in mind the business model you are investigating more than the industry. Franchising gives you the opportunity to break into unfamiliar industries because the franchisor will train and support you with industry expertise.
Also, while it is important to work diligently through financial models and to validate information with other franchisees, connecting with the franchisor is critical. Many forget to think about how they feel about the franchisor. How well do you communicate with each other? Is the franchisor responsive? Does their mission and vision align with your expectations? Do you feel that you would get along well with the management team? Would you enjoy each other’s company? It is hugely important that you identify whether your personality aligns with the franchisors’ – after all, you are committing to a strategic partnership that can only be successful if both parties enjoy the relationship.
Make sure you speak to as many team members as possible, and not just to your assigned sales person. Very often, the sales person who walks you through the discovery process will have no interaction with you once you become a franchisee.
In addition, take advantage of attending Discovery Day. Many franchisors offer strong candidates the opportunity to finalize discovery by inviting them for a day at corporate headquarters to meet with the management team and do site visits to existing locations. Discovery Days are a powerful tool to help prospective franchisees become comfortable with the franchisor, as meeting in person often cements the relationships that have been developed over the previous weeks. It gives you as the prospective franchisee an opportunity to not only meet the management team, but also to also meet your support structure, such as the call center staff, the operations team, the training staff and IT group. Make sure you spend time walking through their offices and watching them at work as they support already existing franchisees.
Sit down with the management team face to face and ask them any outstanding questions you have. This is the time to put it all on the table, after all, you are in the final stages of decision making and want to make sure that you are entering a strategic business partnership that is founded on openness and common goals.
Take the time you need when looking at franchise opportunities, and reach out to experts in the field who can guide you through the franchise discovery process.