Franchising your business is a proven route to rapid growth. But becoming a franchisor is not an automatic ticket to success, especially in this challenging economy. Still, many business owners dream of seeing their brand become a household name, with a network of franchisees. When the right concept is franchised effectively, it can be a great expansion strategy that doesn’t require as much upfront capital as growing through company-owned units.
If you’re considering franchising your business, know that the process of becoming a franchisor is usually long and involves considerable cost. Just because you qualify to sell franchises doesn’t mean you will find buyers. Data from the International Franchise Association shows that of the 105 companies that started selling franchises in 2008, more than 40 had not reported the sale of their first unit by the end of 2009.
Becoming a successful new franchisor entails making many thoughtful decisions early on that will affect your business for years to come. There’s also a lot of legal paperwork to wade through to make sure your business complies with national and provincial laws that regulate the franchise industry.
Here’s our guide to the important steps you’ll need to take along the road to becoming a new franchisor.
1. Evaluate if Your Business is Ready
The first question to ask is whether your business is suited to being franchised. Beyond having a track record of sales and profitability at the existing business, there are several factors to weigh here, says Mark Siebert, CEO of the US franchise-consulting firm, iFranchise Group.
Consider your concept
Most good franchise concepts, he says, offer something familiar, but with some unique twist to it. The concept has to appeal both to end consumers and to prospective franchisees. There should be an expectation that more units will create economies of scale and increase profits.
Additionally, the business needs to be something you can systematise and replicate, not something that needs your personal touch to be successful.
“Ask youself, is the concept saleable?” he says. “Can you clone it? Does it provide good returns?”
Check your financials
Most successful franchises take a business that’s already profitable and try to replicate that success in other locales. Franchise consultant, Joel Libava, says he likes to see companies with at least a couple of profitable units beyond the first one already in operation before a company tries franchising.
“Is it just one great restaurant and mama’s wonderful pizza sauce?” Libava asks. “Or did you keep growing?”
Gather market research
Don’t rely on your gut feeling that your business would be a smash hit across the country. Gather market research to confirm there is widespread consumer demand beyond your home city for what your franchise would offer, and room in the marketplace for a new competitor.
Prepare for change
Becoming a franchisor means you’ll be engaged in entirely different activities than you were as a business owner. You’ll primarily be selling franchises and supporting franchisees now, instead of selling pizza or fixing toilets.
“Ask yourself if you’re comfortable having a role as a teacher and salesperson, selling and supporting franchisees,” Siebert says, “as opposed to going out there and doing it yourself.”
In addition, franchising your business will require that you relinquish some of the control you’ve had over how your concept is executed.
“Franchisees won’t do it exactly the way you would, even if they do it well,” says IFA president Matthew Shay. “If you are so married to your concept that you won’t let anyone else touch it, then franchising may not be right for you.”
Evaluate other alternatives
Before you plunge into franchising, you may want to consider other options, Siebert says. Depending on your situation, slower growth, finding debt financing or taking on partners are all alternatives that may prove better ways to move forward.
It also can cost R400 000 or more, so ask yourself if your company has the financial resources. Remember that while franchising allows you to grow fast, it also means giving up most of the franchise units’ future profits, Shay says.
2. Make Important Decisions About Your Model
As you prepare your legal paperwork, you’ll need to make many decisions about how you’ll operate as a franchisor. Key points include:
- The franchise fee and royalty percentage
- The terms of your franchise agreement
- The size of territory you will award each franchisee
- The geographic area you are willing to offer franchises within
- The type and length of training programme you will offer
- Whether franchisees must buy products or equipment from your company
- The business experience and net worth franchisees need
- How you will market the franchises
- Whether you want an owner-operator for each unit or area/master franchisees who will develop multiple units
New franchisors don’t realise how much each of these decisions can affect their future profitability, says Siebert. “If you’re thinking either 5% or 6% royalty, for instance, the difference doesn’t sound big,” he notes. “But five years later, when you have 100 franchises sold, and they each make R2,8 million a year, that’s a R28 million annual mistake. And you’ve signed a 10-year contract.”
Be careful to note whether geographic variables such as weather or local laws may affect franchisees’ success. Territory size is important too, as too-large territories may have to be bought back later at a premium so they can be split up, notes IFA’s Shay.
Inadequate training can leave your franchisees ill-equipped to implement your system successfully.
3. Create Needed Paperwork and Register as a Franchisor
Once you’ve made the important decisions that shape how your franchise will operate, you’re ready to complete your legal paperwork. When you submit it, be prepared for authorities to critique the document and possibly demand additional disclosures before they approve your application.
4. Make Key Hires
As you prepare to become a franchisor, you’ll usually need to add several staff members who will focus solely on helping franchisees. In the case of a solar panel franchise for example, the company sells its franchisees the solar panels they use, so the company may need a full-time hire to staff the order desk. The company also needs to hire a trainer and a full-time ‘franchise advocate’ to answer franchisee questions and resolve any problems.
Other staff include a creative director, a marketing assistant and a franchise process manager who helps franchisees to use company software and systems.
5. Sell Franchises
Now that you’re in business as a franchisor, one of your most pressing activities will be to find franchisees and convince them to buy your concept. Some companies sell franchises by word of mouth and don’t have a sales representative. To help stimulate interest, the company could offer a R4 000 referral fee to anyone who sends the company a new franchisee.
In other companies salespeople are hired to handle franchise marketing. Other common sales techniques include attending franchise fairs or hiring independent franchise marketing firms to help locate investors.
Selling franchises is difficult because of the high risk involved for franchisees, notes Siebert. Your salespeople should know your business well and be able to tell a compelling story about why you’re worth the investment of their time and money.
Siebert boils down the issue this way: “You’re saying, ‘I want you to give me all your money. Then, quit your job, give up your security and benefits, and go into a business you’ve never been in before. And follow my rules.’ You’ll need to establish a pretty high level of trust.”
6. Support Franchisees
As a franchisor, you’ll have gone through a lot to reach this point. But here — at the point where you begin supporting your franchisee network — is where a chain ultimately succeeds or fails. Your training programmes and other support efforts will create quality control, notes Siebert, making sure the brand provides a uniform experience no matter which unit customers visit. With the Internet, this has increasingly come to mean providing ongoing online learning modules for franchisees to use.
“If you’re a restaurant operator and employ 20 people in a unit,” he notes, “you have thousands of new employees going through the system every year. Without ongoing training, it’s pretty easy to institutionalise wrong behaviours.”
At the same time, you’ll need to start marketing the growing chain to drive sales to franchisees. Many new franchisors underestimate how much this marketing and support effort will cost, says Libava. Marketing encompasses everything from radio or print ads to uniforms, logos, fliers, and logo art on company vans.
“Trust that you’re going to need a lot of money for marketing,” he says.
4 Factors To Consider Before Converting Your Independent Business Into A Franchise
Are you an experienced independent business owner who is struggling to keep your business going? Perhaps you should consider joining a franchise network to rebrand your business and attract more customers.
Until about a year or so ago, your local pizzeria business remained the anchor of your community – but lately sales have dropped as your once loyal customers flock to the latest pizza franchises to hit South African shores. At first it may have seemed like a fad, but very few customers have returned and you’re dreading the inevitable.
Instead of closing shop, you could convert your business into a franchise to compete. “But why would you want to trade in your independence to belong to a franchise? What do you get in return? And how can you decide if the leap from independent to franchisee is right for you?” asks CEO of FranChoice Inc. Jeff Elgin.
Here are four reasons conversion may be just what your business needs to boost sales and show marked growth:
1. Acquire brand influence
Being associated with a recognised brand could yield significant marketing advantages. Aligning your business with a name that has national top of mind awareness gives you the benefit of the franchisor driving brand recognition and customer growth on your behalf.
“Brand recognition can boost traffic right away,” says Laurie Pollock, a senior franchise consultant at FranChoice. “Effective marketing techniques are of significant impact as this is often an area where small business owners struggle.” Your monthly marketing fee could fund a national marketing campaign that dwarfs your current flyers on specials board currently posted on the shop window.
2. Receive support from the franchisor
Right now, as an independent business owner, you are responsible for every detail of your business operations. From finding an efficient bookkeeping system, to cost analysis and sourcing quality suppliers for any new options your customers might be interested in.
If you join a franchise system, the resources to help you figure these things out will be available to you from your franchisor. “Franchisors keep abreast of the changes on behalf of their franchisees, so owners can focus on their customers,” says Pollock.
3. Benefit from increased purchasing power
As a franchisee, you should expect significant savings on inventory thanks to the franchisor’s bargaining power. Besides the benefit of being associated with a large system, franchisors are industry experts. This helps you – as experienced as you are as an independent business owner – capitalise on a combination of best practices and the latest technology, in addition to group buying power.
4. Adopt a proven (winning) concept
When you started your business all those years ago, it only had a 10% chance of being successful. Sustain your triumph thus far, by buying into a system tested and proven by other business owners in the franchise chain. The franchise’s current franchisees who have produced the highest possible level of success from the business are good testimonials while making your decision, but remember that:
“Before converting and becoming part of a franchise system, you may need to shift your thinking from ‘I’ve always done it this way’ to ‘I’m ready to learn a new way; I’m ready to do it your way,’” advises Pollock.
Freedom As A Franchise Owner With Less Risk
Franchising could therefore provide freedom to new business owners as a business opportunity, with the following reduced risks.
Over the past two decades South Africa saw an influx of international firms selling franchises, as well as an increase in local ones. The franchise sector provides ideal opportunities for small to medium enterprises and is an effective vehicle for growth. Its importance to the economy is significant, contributing an estimated 13,3% to the country’s gross domestic product. There are more than 800 franchised systems operating countrywide, with over 40 528 franchised businesses employing more than 343 000 people.
Franchises, such as Mugg & Bean and Nandos, are among many South African firms operating around the world. Today, at least 90% of franchises in the country are local firms.
The franchise industry is a money-spinner and those prepared to work hard can benefit. There are many success stories of how people left the corporate world to seek freedom in running their own franchises.
A consideration for gaining freedom could be a standalone business. However, one has to be mindful that businesses are experiencing challenges due to the tough economic conditions in the country and the world. It is also becoming more expensive to do business as a result of increased lending rates, electricity costs, staffing and rental.
Franchising could therefore provide freedom to new business owners as a business opportunity, with the following reduced risks:
- Due to the brand’s support structures, it is possible for business owners to open a store without the risk of failure experienced with independent business owners.
- Franchisees have the advantage of a turnkey operation without having to blindly set up a store and secure suppliers, which makes franchising a sleek and fast way to set up a business.
- With a good support structure and management team, franchisees are able to customise their working hours according to peak and crucial trading times.
- With the backing of a recognised and responsible brand, franchisees’ expansion plans are escalated and the probability of becoming a multi-unit business owner improves.
- As business owners, franchisees are ultimately still responsible for and in control of their bottomline. The more efficiently and effectively a store is managed, the more profitable the business will be.
- Franchisees have more control over their competitor landscape than licensee holders and independent business owners. Most franchise concepts guarantee a certain radius of trading territory, which gives franchisees the advantage of no new competitor entrants within the brand.
Nedbank Business Banking has the following tips on how one can tap into franchising opportunities:
- Identify a franchise within your area of expertise.
- Raise the capital through own or loan funds – at least 50% personal savings are required to start up the business.
- Understand the business and do market research.
- Draw up a business plan – without one, no financial institution will understand your vision.
- Maintain a good credit history – check the status of your profile through the various agencies as this impacts rental agreements, financial applications and credit for the business.
- Obtain financing options from the franchisor.
- Get an accountant and a lawyer – financial and legal expertise is necessary, especially with new regulations.
- Understand the implications of the Franchise Industry Code of Conduct.
For further information on franchise funding send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Watch) Franchises Help Create Jobs
The franchise sector has not been immune to the challenges of the current economic climate. However, it has demonstrated resilience and continues to play a key role in contributing to the economy and creating jobs.
Mark Rose, Head of New Business Development, on Nedbank Franchising
Recent statistics from the Franchise Association of South Africa reveal that the industry has grown to over 750 franchise systems, with nearly 35 000 franchise outlets, contributing an estimated 11,6% to South Africa’s gross domestic product (GDP) through an estimated R493 billion in turnover in 2016. The franchise sector has helped create more than 350 000 jobs.
See money differently
Nedbank’s new brand proposition encourages clients to ‘see money differently’. We have a broad spectrum of finance products available to clients who wish to become involved in franchising. This includes access to working capital facilities, asset-based finance loans, debtors finance and term loans to enable entrepreneurs to fulfil their dreams.
There are obvious benefits to purchasing a franchise rather than starting an entirely new business, since being linked to an existing brand established in the marketplace can make the financing process easier. We offer funding for all franchise models. However, preference is given to brands that demonstrate ethical behaviour, have operational structures in place and, most importantly, are able to offer their franchisees support, especially in difficult times.
As a bank for business, Nedbank’s finance application approval rate is higher for franchises than for independent business, as we rely on the inherent benefits of a franchise system.
What we offer
Nedbank has customised packages for franchises that cover lending, transactional banking and value-adding and investment solutions.
Pre-negotiated pricing also provides the respective brands with upfront pricing on transactional banking services.
These are delivered through our local regional offices, which are supported by a centralised credit unit to ensure quick turnaround times on decisions.
Finance solutions for franchises include:
- New-store financing
- Financing for resale transactions
- Financing for multistore transactions
- Finance packages for alternative energy efficient solutions/projects
- Financing for revamps or refurbishment.
What we look for in a potential franchisee
As a bank our assessment of potential franchisees is based primarily on the viability of the business: affordability must be evident, location of the business must be sound, the franchisee must have sufficient experience and a healthy credit record, and the franchisor must provide a support mechanism.
Nedbank will assess the application in line with these requirements. The franchisee is generally required to invest 50% in unencumbered funds in the franchise. The finance gearing for the purchase of multiple stores is negotiable, depending on debt levels and performance of your existing outlet(s).
To ensure the success of franchisees Nedbank offers additional support in the form of transactional products and services, such as card acquiring services, merchant facilities and electronic banking, which have been designed to add value to franchisees, giving them the edge to succeed in a competitive environment.
Innovation for clients
Nedbank has also introduced a solution for franchisees who have to secure a fuel or rental guarantee, allowing franchisees to secure a guarantee without having to provide the bank with cash cover.
We also offer a variety of products, such as Market Edge, a first-in-market data analytics tool that enables clients to gain insights into their customers’ behaviour and to develop strategies for their business on a multilayered, real-time and user-friendly dashboard.
GAP Access is another innovative product that enables the bank to provide Nedbank merchants with access to working capital, advanced against their point-of-sale (POS) terminal turnover. Repayments are made daily as a small percentage of card turnover, while cashflow is tracked and the merchant is net-settled.
Related: 3 Secrets To Franchising Success
Nedbank Business Banking
Our tailored solutions take franchisees’ current and future goals into consideration, and aim to assist franchises in attaining the competitive edge needed to succeed. A dedicated business banker gives franchise owners the opportunity to have an experienced financial expert as a partner in their business.
For more information on franchising email us at email@example.com.
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