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Researching a Franchise

Calculating Franchising ROI

How to determine whether a franchise investment makes financial sense.

Jeff Elgin

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What is a reasonable rate of return on investment in a franchise opportunity? Though the question seems simple, it is still an important one, so let’s analyse the factors involved in getting an answer.

Usually, computing the return on an investment is a fairly straightforward and intuitive process. When you invest in the stock market, for example, you know exactly how much money you paid for the stock. Your return usually consists of a combination of dividends paid to you while you owned the stock plus any appreciation in the stock value when you sell it. If you pay R400 for a stock that pays you a R20 dividend and then you sell the stock in one year for R420, you made a R40 total profit, a10% return on your investment. If you buy a bond for R400 and it pays you an annual interest payment of R24, your return on investment is 6%.

Those types of investments are referred to as passive, which means that you are investing your money but not any significant amount of your time. With passive investments, the more risky the investment the higher average return you expect to make, and the more money you invest the higher your total investment earnings will usually be. Most people would agree that, over time, an average annual return of 5% to 12% on your passive investment rands is good, and anything higher than 12% is excellent.

Investing in a Franchise

But a franchise is almost never a passive investment. Virtually all franchises assume that the owner will be investing at least some of their time and talent in the business in addition to their money. So it is reasonable to assume that an investment in a franchise should provide a return for both the money and the time that is being invested in the business; hence the complication in the ROI calculations. This also means that we expect the return to be significantly higher for a franchise than for a passive investment. Otherwise what’s the point of investing your time?

Most new businesses go through a start-up phase where they lose money for a while, then break even and ultimately become profitable.

The curve of this initial growth phase is usually fairly sharp in the beginning, and then the business stabilises and begins experiencing a more normal growth rate as it matures. For an average business, this process takes about two to three years. For this reason, when we look at the monetary return for a franchise, we usually look at what our income expectations are based on the business being in its third year of operation.

Evaluating ROI

When evaluating a reasonable return in a franchise, begin by looking at the return on invested capital. Since starting any business is considered a relatively risky investment, you should be able to earn a very good return on your invested capital, let’s say in the neighbourhood of 15%. In other words, for every R100 000 of your capital you invest, you should expect to make at least R15 000 per year in return on the investment.

Calculating a reasonable return on your investment of time is more difficult because of the variables involved. Start by asking yourself what your time is worth in general terms. How much are you used to earning in exchange for your work hours? If you can fairly easily trade your time for R240 000 in yearly income, then you can assume that is a reasonable value for a full time investment of your work hours into a business. So at the very least, you’re going to be looking for a business that can provide you with some increase in this standard return for the value of your time.

The analysis gets a bit more complicated, though, when you factor in lifestyle changes that can come with owning your own business. For example, let’s say that the business will provide you with a great deal of schedule flexibility or that it does not require any out-of-town travel. That may mean that you’ll never again miss a child’s birthday party or that you’ll finally be able to coach a soccer team like you’ve always wanted. As another example, let’s say that the
R240 000 job you currently have involves doing tasks every day that you really dislike, or that you’ve got a boss you can’t stand working for. Getting away from those factors and into a situation where they don’t apply may have a great deal of non-monetary value to you. These types of ‘soft’ factors are undoubtedly important to consider, but they are difficult to quantify with a fixed monetary value that we can use to compute a return on investment.

Working the Numbers

Let’s say that you are evaluating an investment in a franchise opportunity. Based on your research, you determine that the total monetary investment in the franchise is going to be R800 000. You further determine that the average income (before any owner compensation) produced by this type of franchise in the third year is R600 000. From the expected income of R600 000, you subtract R240 000, which represents the fair market compensation for your time. This leaves you with R360 000 as a return on the investment of both your money and your time. You would expect to earn at least R120 000 per year as a fair return on the R800 000 of invested capital, so the franchise in this example provides an additional R240 000 as a return on your invested time. That equates to a 100% return on the investment of your time. Even if there are no soft benefits to you whatsoever, this sounds like a pretty good deal.

If, on the other hand, the typical third year gross income is only R360 000 instead of R600 000, you would clear the same return on the capital you invested but the ROI on your time investment would be zero. With an ROI like that, the obvious question is why take the risk? Unless there are compelling soft benefits for you, it would be better to keep looking for a different business with higher returns while you stay in your current job.

As a final note, look for opportunities that grow to mature profitable levels much faster than the standard of three years. There are a few companies that reach this level within a few months and those businesses are much safer opportunities in a recessionary economy like we have been experiencing for the past couple of years. It may take extra effort to find them, but the time will be well spent.

Jeff Elgin has developed a consulting system that matches pre-screened, high-quality prospective franchisees with the franchise opportunities that best fit their personal profile.

Researching a Franchise

The Future Of Franchising Looks Smaller (And Fancier)

Franchises are adding smaller locations and reduced menu options, as niche markets emerge, to attract the customer of the future.

Diana Albertyn

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As the owner of a thriving franchise, you’re well aware of the fact that fluctuations in the world economy has both negative and positive effects on business. When it comes to your successful franchise, tough times could mean adopting new trends or seizing gaps, potentially resulting in a new franchise concept you wouldn’t have otherwise thought of.

“The buzz word in global franchising is ‘flexibility and adaptability’,” according to the Franchise Association of South Africa (FASA). “Whether a result of a need to inject some life into stagnant franchise brands or as a result of the new world order brought about by the recession, franchising is embracing alternative and options in a big way.”

Related: As Consumers’ Tastes Change Can Your Franchise Keep Up?

You can do this by either devising innovative areas to franchise or allowing more flexible ways for franchisees to operate to help with their bottom line. FASA has earmarked these as some of the biggest franchising trends in 2018 and beyond:

Smaller, more cost-effective franchise models

When franchisees don’t have high franchise fees and start-up costs to worry about, they can focus more on what customers want, and deliver. The added benefit of smaller spaces include having fewer employees and reasonable rental.

Among the new frontiers in franchising are the food court losing its legacy as the preferred setting for food franchises, as service stations increase in popularity in the industry. A number of brands – like Steers, Debonairs and Mugg & Bean On-the-Go outlets – are co-locating with major fuel retailers to create fully-integrated accessible centres.

Niche markets are offering one-of-a-kind franchises

“The opportunity to get in on the ground floor of a new franchise trend is also on the rise,” notes FASA. This could be offering a unique gourmet food experience in your outlets or a ‘green’ space of energy saving technology in your operations.

“Consumers have gained control of what they want,” says Morné Cronjé, head of franchising at FNB Business. “It is no longer about what you have on the menu, but how your product or service can be tailor-made to what a customer really wants.”

Founded just five years ago (2013), RocoMamas boasts over 60 franchise outlets, clearly responding to the essence of this trend –allowing consumers to build their own burgers without having to pay for items they’d rather leave out.

Related: Key Franchising Trends To Consider For 2018

Stay ahead of the game

For long-term success, franchisors who want to expand their business should start exploring beyond present circumstances and current predictions.

“2018 will no doubt bring its challenges, however for every challenge there is a window of opportunity to explore. We are advising franchisors to scrutinise these trends carefully, it can definitely give them a boost for 2018,” says Cronjé.

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Researching a Franchise

As Consumers’ Tastes Change Can Your Franchise Keep Up?

More of your customers are eating in, and if you’re not packaging, portioning and pricing your food accordingly, they’re heading to a retailer that does.

Diana Albertyn

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It’s generally believed that it’s cheaper to cook your own breakfast, lunch or supper than to go out and pay a much higher price for the same food in your fridge at home. But today’s consumer’s live fast-paced lifestyles – so food is becoming more about convenience.

31% of 6 022 middle-to-high income South African earners surveyed by BusinessTech, put eating out and entertainment at the top of their list of things they’re most willing to cut their spending on in 2018 to save money. Research by supermarket giant Pick n Pay correlates, reporting an increase in customers buying quality convenience food, not just to entertain at home, but for dining at home.

Related: Driving Your Business Growth Towards More Customers

Consumers are empowered by variety

You’ve heard about the ‘fast casual generation’, aka Millennials? They are demanding healthy, affordable eating experiences. But do you know how this affects the future of the food industry, and your business in particular – because they’re not the only ones adapting their lifestyles.

An increasing number of food brands and chefs are compelled to create complete ranges of new, convenient meal options that are not only packaged, portioned and precooked attractively, but affordable too.

The fastest growing sector of retail foodservice for the past four years has been the convenience store sector. Non-traditional avenues of distribution are growing, gobbling market share while establishing new patterns of consumption, price points, and customer loyalty.

Shoppers are becoming value-focused

A savvy franchise would acknowledge that although pre-packaged and pre-cooked convenience food isn’t a new trend among consumers and supermarkets, it is gaining popularity. “Some of the most notable trends in 2017 were an increasing shift to convenience foods as customers looked for both value and convenience,” says Pick ‘n Pay’s Head of Marketing, John Bradshaw.

Related: 5 Techniques To Leave Customers Grinning And Vowing To Return

Value for money and healthier food choices will continue to be top of the convenience food list for consumer in 2018, as more shoppers cut down on luxuries.

“We’ve seen significant growth in the number of customers looking for an easy way to enjoy a good meal without the cost of eating out,” says Bradshaw.

But he cautions that South African shoppers have always been value-focused, and while the most significant shift Pick ‘n Pay has seen is how all its shoppers, no matter what their income levels, are watching their budgets.

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Researching a Franchise

Maximise Your Social Media Reach This Holiday Season

Quick and cost-effective, social media is your best tool to reach target markets when it matters most – during the holidays.

Diana Albertyn

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It’s not just the end of the year that can be lucrative for businesses. School holidays and other major breaks during the year present consumers with more time to spend shopping. Why not ensure money is spent at your franchise by capitalising on the minimal cost and maximum exposure of social media?

You don’t have to create entirely new deals or promotions from what you may already have running on your store, but find a way to make it special for your social media followers, suggests Kelly Mason, marketer at Customer Paradigm.

Holiday campaigns on Twitter, benefitting from popular hashtags, streaming live content, and receiving information instead of just distributing it via social media are just some of the ways to stay ahead of the competition.

Related: Why Your Business’ Social Media Marketing Strategy Is Probably Wrong

Know your customers well

The first step to attracting customers and getting them to complete a sale is understanding their customer journey.

“Being able to document where they spend their time online, which social channels they use most, and what they’re reading or watching on those channels is a huge plus. Finding that crucial information is fairly easy to do, thanks to modern-day marketing tools and resources,” advises Paul Herman, ‎VP: Product and Solutions Enablement Group, at Sprinklr, a unified customer experience management platform for enterprises.

The better you understand your customers, the easier it is to reach them through a campaign optimised for their interests.

Master social listening

You could be using social media all wrong in the run up to all your holiday campaigns. Perhaps it’s time you used this platform to listen to your customers?

“Through social listening, marketers can identify major trends and product keywords in their industries,” says Herman. “For instance, knowing those keywords can help marketers identify which social platforms are more popular for a target audience. With that information, they can make smarter decisions about where to spend their money and which products or services to promote on each platform.”

Related: 10 Laws Of Social Media Marketing

Use the information gathered to determine what customers like about your product, what they dislike about it, and how you can improve upon it so they can buy more of it. The more of this data you collect, the better and more effective your interactions with customers will be.

Try something new

50% of consumers look for a video of the product they want to buy before going to an ecommerce store to buy it, according to a 2016 Google survey. “Video can be an extremely effective way to get your customers to take action – in this case, to make a purchase with your store,” adds Mason.

Video adverts are often used as an experimental tool in social marketing and switching it up on platforms such as Facebook Live, Instagram Live, Instagram Stories, or Snapchat – depending on your brand’s activity and your audiences’ interests – can help attract customers during seasonal periods.

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