Shopping for the right fit in a franchise has become a lot more difficult in the last decade because there are so many options. Today, franchises have broken out of the old moulds that used to just include gyms, fast food joints and retail stores.
Tons of companies have hopped on the franchising wagon, which opens the market to a million possibilities, but can clog and complicate the shopping and decision process.
If you’re on the hunt for a franchise that fits you, these tips will take some of the stress out of the process.
What catches your eye — and keeps it?
Sometimes potential franchisees hyper-focus on the rands and cents of owning a franchise and ignore a crucial element in their potential success — their actual interest in the business.
The rands and cents are obviously important, but your interest in and passion for the business is equally important. If you’re lactose intolerant, don’t open an ice cream shop, even if the numbers look good.
If you haven’t been to the gym in three years, don’t open a gym. If you’re obsessed with the perfect burger, though, and find a franchise that has phenomenal fries and a shake to boot, then you’re on the right track.
Does this business make sense in your market?
Continuing on the idea of the perfect burger, let’s say you find a few franchises that line up with what you want. It’s not time to pull the trigger yet as there are still other factors to consider. Are there similar restaurants in your area already? Are you the only meat lover in a town composed exclusively of vegetarians?
Look at your market, and ask yourself if there is room for this particular franchise. What’s the competition like, and can you anticipate a high demand?
What are the details that will make or break your experience?
Opening any new business is an involved process, and that doesn’t change when you open a franchise. For example, you still have to work with real estate issues such as location, zoning and rent negotiation.
As you examine various franchises, pay attention to what level of support each one offers, and weigh that against your personal experience and comfort level.
If you have no real estate experience and some of your prospective franchise matches don’t offer help with securing a unit space, then that might be a factor to consider.
Go with an established brand, or bet on the new kid?
Sometimes people shopping for franchises assume opening a new unit within a major brand is a guarantee of success. Although those brands have a lot of power and recognition, joining forces with them isn’t an ironclad way to earn.
Every business, whether it’s a major or a total newcomer, involves risk. There is no bulletproof way to be an entrepreneur, so don’t eliminate a smaller or newer franchise just because going with the big guy has the illusion of being a safer bet.
It’s more important to choose a franchise you’re passionate about that will deliver the right level of support for your comfort level than it is to select based on size alone.
What did you feel when you met face to face?
Once you’ve done all your homework — watched the videos, read the brochures, studied the franchisor disclosure document — it’s time to do some reconnaissance on your finalists in person. Visit or contact as many individual franchise locations as you can and see how the customer experience feels.
Talk to current franchisees on the phone and in person to get a sense of whether they’re happy with the brand.
Finally, visit the franchise executive team. Get a good look at how things really run in the hub. Make sure you are at home with the people who will make the big choices for the brand as a whole.