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Are You Suited to Franchising

Put Your Best Foot Forward

Tips for making a good impression on franchisors

Entrepreneur

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Q: I want to buy a particular franchise. The franchisor has invited me to their headquarters to meet with their executives before I’m approved as a franchisee.How can I tell what they’re looking for in a franchisee, and how can I make a good impression? Are there certain things franchisors look for in a franchisee?

A: Most of the more professional and savvy franchisors do develop a profile of their ideal franchise candidate. This profile is then used to create the proper message in their franchise marketing materials (advertisements, brochures, etc.) and to select the media to target their franchise message to the right audience.

Since different franchisors have a different franchisee profile based on the knowledge, skills and abilities necessary to operate their particular concept, we can’t give you a specific answer without knowing which franchise you’re considering. Our guess is that you meet the franchisor’s minimum requirements or you would not have been invited to their headquarters for an interview.

A few franchisee attributes tend to be universally sought after by franchisors. Franchisors like a franchisee who:

  • Will follow the franchisor’s system. In your meeting, you won’t win any points by suggesting you have a better idea, can improve the franchisor’s operating system, or that you’ll operate your business differently no matter what the franchisor says.
  • Represents their brand in a positive light. Unless the franchisor has told you they’re business casual, wear a business suit. And even if the franchisor has indicated they’re business casual, put the emphasis on “business.” A professional appearance goes a long way in establishing your credibility. And it’s not just dressing the part – make sure you’re well groomed for the meeting and carry yourself as a professional.
  • Has some knowledge of the industry in which the franchisor operates. Do your homework so you can comment on the franchisor’s business, the competition, and consumer demand for the product or service. Ask questions that demonstrate your knowledge.
  • Knows the community in which the franchise unit is located. Highlight your knowledge and any experience you have in the community, and be sure to stress any community activities in which you are or have been involved.
  • Has basic business skills. Franchisors have training programs to prepare a new franchisee to operate their concept, but many rely on the franchisee having some business savvy. Be prepared to discuss your business background and management experience.
  • Is financially qualified. Be prepared to explain where you’ll get your initial investment – from your savings, parents or the bank.

Remember that the decision to franchise is a two way street – both parties must decide that you becoming a franchisee is agood idea. Take the opportunity to size up the franchisor; assess their ability to provide support and lead the company not only in the good times but through tougher times as well.

The franchisor will probably present their training program, marketing and advertising support, research and development activities, and special or cooperative purchasing programs designed to give franchisees a competitive advantage. Listen carefully to what they tell you and ask any questions you may have about how these programs operate. Ask also about the experience of the franchisor’s headquarters staff; for example, what is the background of the training staff? Have they worked as a franchisee of the system? Do they have experience in education?

  • How about the marketing staff – are they professional marketers?
  • Do they have experience in advertising or media?
  • How long has the franchisor’s staff been with the franchisor?
  • Is there a high level of turnover among head quarters staff?
  • Are people put into positions for which they are not qualified, merely to fill a spot? A
  • meeting at the franchisor’s head quarters is important to both sides.

While you want to make a good impression, don’t over look your opportunity to get the information you need to make the decision to become or not become a franchisee.

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Are You Suited to Franchising

Conquer Your Franchise Fears

Looking to finally open up a business and quit the nine-to-five life? Here are five fears you’ll have to conquer.

Jayson Demers

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Owning a business is treacherous ground. You’ll face great risks, from the inception of your business through the growth stage, and even as you stabilise and gain momentum.If you’re going to be successful as a business owner, you need to be prepared for those risks, and address your fears proactively.

While each entrepreneur and business is unique, there are five common fears that almost every business owner will need to face before starting a business:

1. Running out of money

Capital is one of the biggest concerns most entrepreneurs have, and with good reason.

Starting a business requires a lot of money, which usually comes directly from the entrepreneur’s savings, or the pockets of independent investors.

If you can’t secure a reliable revenue stream by the time that initial start-up capital runs out, the business is in jeopardy of being lost for good.

Disappointing investors is one thing, but losing your life savings is another.

Related: The Danger Of Being Franchisee No. 1

2. Not being good enough

franchise-expectationsThe fear of not being good enough can be debilitating for new entrepreneurs. Remember a simple concept that applies to all businesses: Launching with a minimum viable product. Your product doesn’t have to be perfect when it first launches, and it doesn’t have to be the best.

It just has to be acceptable. From there, you’ll have plenty of room to make improvements to it over time. No product ever starts out perfect — some of the greatest businesses in the world probably started with a product of a similar quality to yours.

As a business owner in an established operating model, you too can be a minimum viable product. You don’t have to make all the right decisions, and you don’t need to be a perfect leader. You just have to be passable until you have the time and experience to improve yourself.

3. Failing

The fear of failure gets the better of all of us occasionally. There are small failures, such as a botched email marketing campaign, and massive failures, such as your company going under.

Failure will set you back no matter what, but you can’t let the fear of failure stop you from making a decision. Failure is only the end of the road if you let it be. Otherwise, it’s just a temporary stopping point in a long path to a final destination.

More important, failures are learning opportunities. Every failure you experience yields a lesson you can incorporate into your business or your life.

Related: How Risky Is That Franchise?

4. Being overwhelmed

The decision to be a business owner isn’t made because it’s easy. It’s made because it’s a challenge with many rewards along the way.

If you’re getting into entrepreneurship because it seems like an easy way to get rich quick, someone has lied to you. Entrepreneurship is riddled with obstacles, stress and hard work.

But the upside of ownership is control. Yes, you will inevitably feel overwhelmed at times, but it’s all completely within your power to change. If you’re dealing with too many financial problems, you can hire a financial advisor. If you aren’t getting the results you want out of your developer, you can let him/her go and seek new help.

You will experience a greater workload than you’ve ever faced before, but remember that you’ll be in full control of your destiny.

5. The unknown

The unknown is indescribable and impossible to prepare for. When you first get started with a business plan, a bit of money and maybe a partner or a mentor by your side, you’ll have no idea what to expect in your first year. For many, it’s a thrilling thought, but it’s also terrifying.

Related: Franchise Or Start-Up?

Owning a business isn’t a job. It becomes a lifestyle. You’re choosing to be in this role because you’re a risk-taker, you’re passionate, you work hard and you believe in your idea. Those four qualities are more than enough to conquer any obstacle that gets in your way — even the unknown ones. So put those fears to rest and believe in yourself.

Business ownership isn’t for the fearless. It’s for the individuals who are prepared enough and strong enough to learn from their fears and work past them. Instead of avoiding your fears, embrace them, and use them as a motivation to learn more about your business and prevent disaster.

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Are You Suited to Franchising

“Should I Look Into An Established Or Emerging Franchise?” – 3 Factors To Consider

Choosing a winning franchise is crucial for your first big business investment. You need to weigh up the benefits and drawbacks of sticking to a recognised name or investing in a trendy newcomer.

Diana Albertyn

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If you had to choose between opening up a McDonald’s or a RocoMama’s, what would your choice be based on? One’s global, while the other is local, yes – but one’s also been around longer and would therefore be your safest and more profitable option, right? Not necessarily.

Franchising experts suggest you consider several franchise opportunities before deciding on the one that’s right for you. The challenge is to decide on one that’s of interest to you and makes investment sense.

“While joining a franchise with an established track record can be beneficial,” SME Toolkit South Africa reports.

“An emerging franchise gives you the chance to get in on the ground floor of what could be a highly profitable growth opportunity.”

Related: Ocean Basket’s Top Lessons Learnt From 21 Years Of Being In Business

Here are a few other considerations to make before taking the plunge:

1What’s in a name?

Everyone knows the ‘golden arches’, the grinning face of Colonel Sanders or the black and red rooster. “When it comes to choosing between different sizes of franchise systems, one of the most important factors can be brand recognition,” notes Jeff Goldstein of Goldstein Law Firm.

“The ability to instantly benefit from a known brand is a key benefit for many new franchisees, because the business will generally be stronger with a larger, more-established franchise system.”

But if you’re looking to build a brand as opposed to joining it, a smaller franchise could be your match, says Terry Powell, whose company, The Entrepreneur’s Source, helps individuals find the right franchise concept for themselves.

“Early franchisees get to be part of the development and have their ideas listened to, while established brands just want you to follow the programme,” says Powell.

2How much help is offered?

Training sessions, extensive manuals and national marketing campaigns are part and parcel of joining a big franchise. Understandably, this could appeal to the newbie in you, but wouldn’t you rather receive more attention as an early-stage franchisee – “Where your success or failure may have a much greater impact on the franchise system as a whole,” Goldstein says.

If it sounds like too much pressure, perhaps intensive training would suit you best. If however, you’re more independent and have a little more business acumen, you could contribute a lot more to the franchise than you can imagine.

3Show me the money

New franchises will typically have lower joining, royalty and marketing fees. But you also need to consider the emerging franchise’s financials before looking at your own.

“As with any investment, there are liabilities to being an early adopter,” says Brent Dowling, COO at franchise consulting company, RainTree.

Related: Current Challenges Faced By New Franchisees

“Without a track record of success in different markets, there is the risk that the brand just isn’t as replicable as predicted,” says Dowling.

Also remember that it may take a while for emerging brands to reach what Powell calls “the stage of critical mass”, when growth begins to happen more rapidly and exponentially.

So, are you in it for a quick buck or the long haul? The answer to that question could help you choose your very first and best franchise investment.

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Are You Suited to Franchising

To Franchise Or Not To Franchise? Which Will Be Right For You

Before taking the leap of handing over operations to several store owners, consider this.

Mark Siebert

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Whenever I meet with an entrepreneur interested in franchising I ask, “Where do you want to be in five years?” Perhaps unsurprisingly, most entrepreneurs have never given any thought to the question before. But to determine which growth strategy is best, I need to understand three things: Their personal goals of ownership, the assets (both human and capital) they can devote to achieving those goals and the time frame within which they hope to accomplish them.

Armed with that knowledge, the strategy you will choose is often just a matter of plugging in the numbers.

Business owners often tell me they want to grow as fast as possible without sacrificing quality. But that’s just an ownership philosophy. In order to use goals as a foundation for your decision-making, they must be concrete, measurable and tied to a specific time frame.

Consider the long-term over temporary glory

I encourage my clients to start by asking ‘lifestyle’ questions:

  1. Do you want to still be working in the business in five years?
  2. Do you want to sell the business?
  3. Are you looking to pass this company onto your heirs?
  4. If you are looking to cash out, how much money is ‘enough’ — not only for the time and effort you will have devoted to developing the business, but for you to move on with the next phase of your life?
  5. If you want to hold on to your business, how much would you like to be earning at a certain point in the future?

Related: Should You Purchase An Existing Franchise?

When you ask yourself how much you want for your business when you sell, it is important that you do not ask how much you think it will be worth.

Valuation should not enter this process until later. Instead, ask yourself where you want to be personally. Do you want to retire? If so, do you want to be living on your private island collecting shells? Or would you be happy on a golf course somewhere? Or do you want to open a new business and move on?

Once you have painted the picture in your mind of where you want to be, you should ask yourself how much money it will take for you to achieve that goal.

Money makes the franchise go round

franchise-cash-flow

Next, let’s talk capital. Franchising is a low-cost means of expansion, but it isn’t a no-cost means. If you go into a business undercapitalised, you run the risk of taking a nine-foot leap across a ten-foot ditch. In addition to the costs of developing appropriate strategies, manuals, marketing materials and legal documents, you will have costs associated with franchise marketing and franchise sales.

If you don’t have the capital needed to properly support your franchisees, you increase your risk of franchisee failure, difficult franchisee relationships and litigation.

In franchising, there are three ways to capitalise on your initial development efforts:

  1. You can have the capital (or access to the capital through lenders or investors) when you begin franchising.
  2. The cash flow from your company-owned operations to fund your entry into franchising can be used.
  3. Try financing your franchise efforts out of your initial fees and/or product sales — although that’s considered a ‘worst practice’ in franchising, because it often encourages franchise sales to unqualified candidates.

One of the most critical things to remember when making the decision to franchise is that you are creating a new business — not simply an extension of your existing business. Regardless of the business you first founded, you need to understand that franchising is the business of selling and servicing franchisees. And your first and most important priority in that business must be to make your franchisees successful.

Related: 3 Secrets To Franchising Success

There’s an old piece of wisdom floating around the franchising world, and it goes like this: You can’t franchise unless you have at least two operating units. As you explore franchising, some people may tell you that. But they’re wrong.

The entrepreneur who spent a year opening his second location would have two operating locations and could now offer franchises with the expectations of a 2,2% close rate.

In contrast, the entrepreneur who spent a year franchising with a lower, 2% close rate would have one corporate location but perhaps 10 franchise locations — allowing her an even higher close rate, more publicity and a faster jump on competitors.

Two (or more) is better than one location

Once an entrepreneur decides to franchise, they sometimes wonder if they can open more company-owned units. The answer: Yes, absolutely. And depending on the company, that may be a valuable strategy.

The vast majority of franchisors use both company-owned and franchise strategies in combination. Some franchisors will choose to own and operate the best locations or markets while franchising secondary and tertiary markets.

Others will choose to develop a company-owned presence in their core marketplace and franchise in more distant markets. And some treat company growth and franchise growth opportunistically and end up with many markets that have both franchise and company-owned locations.

Regardless of the strategy taken to integrate these two growth models, for many companies, the combination of franchising and company-owned growth provides the best of both worlds. From a purely financial standpoint, it’s almost impossible to beat.

The excess cash produced by your successful franchise operations can fuel increased franchise growth, but at a certain point, the cash used for franchise lead generation will outstrip your opportunities to spend it wisely on franchise marketing. Reinvesting in corporate locations can improve your cash flow and build your balance sheet.

Related: Is It Time To Franchise Your Successful Business?

Before taking the leap…

taking-an-opportunity

If a franchise keeps its expenses in check, it can be profitable and recapture its initial investment by selling a single franchise. Its only incremental expense will be the sweat equity it invests in the franchise programme.

If you are still seriously thinking of franchising, think hard about what it means for your business, and for you. It’s a big decision.

Ask yourself the following seven questions right now:

  • Is my business franchisable?
  • Do I need to franchise to achieve my personal goals?
  • What is happening in my marketplace?
  • Will I be committed to the success of my franchisees?
  • Do I have adequate resources?
  • Do I have the intestinal fortitude to do franchising right — even if it means not selling a franchise to someone I believe will fail or will not meet brand standards?
  • Do I have the fire in the belly to make this happen?

The ultimate answer to whether or when you should franchise cannot be found in any magazine, nor can it be provided by a consultant, an accountant or an attorney.

It doesn’t matter if the market is ready, or if the concept is ready. The answer to this big question can be found only within yourself. So it’s time to ask: Are you ready?

Present vs future business goals

Next, determine where your business is now:

  1. How well-defined is the concept?
  2. How much money is it making, and what is its current value?
  3. What are its financial and human resources?
  4. How strong is the management team?
  5. Is it ready for expansion?

Once you have answers to these two variables, you can measure the distance between your current reality and the goals you have set. That distance, combined with an understanding of your goals, capabilities and time frame, will dictate your strategy.

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