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Researching a Franchise

Debunking Franchise Ownership Myths

Forget the hype and stake your claim to all the rewards franchising has to offer.

Entrepreneur

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As a 25-year veteran of the franchise industry and a multi-brand franchisor, I’ve seen tremendous growth in the popularity of franchising. However, a number of misconceptions about franchise ownership still exist, and if you accept them at face value, there’s a good chance you’ll be robbing yourself of an opportunity that can be not only financially rewarding, but also personally satisfying. Before you make up your mind, it helps to know the facts.

Here are eight franchise myths that will help you realistically evaluate whether buying a franchise is right for you:

1I’ll only be successful if I find the right business

Many of us define ‘right’ as what we’re already good at. But don’t limit yourself. Define your transferable skills from the corporate world: delegation, management, marketing, etc.

If you had them in one type of business, you can easily use them in another.

2I’ll instantly know the right opportunity when I see it

Many people want to fall in love with their business at first sight. That’s an emotional decision, not a career choice. You have to take the time to learn about the details and nuances of an opportunity to understand its potential. You simply can’t do that when you make a determination based only on what you feel today.

3I can’t be in a business I know nothing about

Of course you can. It’s natural to want to stay in your comfort zone and stick to areas you have experience in. But as a franchise owner, your job is running and growing your business, no matter what it is. Remember, you have transferable skills. That’s your strength. You can hire people who know the details. Your road to success is buying into and learning the franchise system – which is already a positive working model – and then using your talents to make it grow.

4There’s no freedom in a franchise – corporate dictates everything

This is one of the most pervasive myths about franchise ownership. In actuality, there’s tons of room for individuality. The franchisor ‘dictates’ only one thing: the basic system – the framework, if you will – that’s already proven successful. Beyond that, you’re in charge. You’re managing your business. You decide who to hire and fire, how to market your location and how to promote it regionally. Keep in mind that the franchisor wants you to succeed, because if you don’t, they don’t. It’s a win-win situation.

5Franchises stifle creativity

Again, this is patently untrue. The only limitations you have are those that have already been proven to generate income. This might include signage, uniforms, formulas, protocol, and so on – the basics that allow you to represent the brand and your own location as professionally as possible.

But it’s completely up to you to think up new ideas and make suggestions to corporate. In fact, most franchise parent companies encourage suggestions, because it’s where they get many of their best ideas. McDonald’s corporate, for example, didn’t come up with the inspiration to start selling breakfast. The concept of the Egg McMuffin was developed by a franchisee.

6I can’t afford a franchise

Sure you can, if you look at it for what it is: an investment in your future. Most franchises can be established for well under R400 000, and some can be started for as little as R48 000. Your only payments to the parent company are a one-time franchise fee and weekly or monthly royalties, which are usually determined on a case-by-case basis.

Beyond that, your out-of-pocket expenses are the same as they’d be for any business – salaries, local advertising, etc. The difference is you have the support and training of the franchisor, which will help you ramp up to full speed far more quickly than you could on your own.

7I’ll have to quit my job to become a franchisee

Many franchise concepts are specifically designed for people who are working other jobs. In fact, a large percentage of franchise owners are passive rather than full-time investors.

8I can only be successful doing something I love

Believe it or not, businesses based on an owner’s background have the highest failure rate. Your franchise business is a vehicle to the lifestyle you’re seeking. If you limit your choices to what you’re familiar with or good at, you’re placing yourself at a major disadvantage by ignoring a huge number of possibilities that are outside your realm of past business experience.

Can franchises still fail? Sure they can. But the vast majority of the time this is due to the owner deviating from the system and cutting corners by using inferior materials or altering formulas. The key to making it as a franchisee is consistency. If you don’t adhere to the groundwork – which, once again, is in place because it works – your chances of success will drop dramatically. You want to leave the habits from the corporate world where they are and bring along your marketable and transferable skills.

Entrepreneur Magazine is South Africa's top read business publication with the highest readership per month according to AMPS. The title has won seven major publishing excellence awards since it's launch in 2006. Entrepreneur Magazine is the "how-to" handbook for growing companies. Find us on Google+ here.

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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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Researching a Franchise

Selling Your First Franchise? Consider These Key Pointers

You’re ready to franchise your business, but who do you sell to and how? Your first few franchisees may be the hardest to acquire, but the process will be smoother if you get some basics right.

Diana Albertyn

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Business experience gained running your independent brand will come in handy, but looking for franchisees is a different ballgame. “We have to attract the right people in enough numbers to make the difference; and, the key to more leads is to have a multi-prong strategy to marketing,” says franchise strategist and expansion expert Lizette Pirtle.

Using media (social, or otherwise), trained experts in franchise sales, and keeping in mind that whoever you sell to will become an extension of your brand, are important considerations before selling your to first franchisee:

1. Use (all) media wisely

Website marketing, print advertising and social media are just some of the many different ways to attract potential owners to your franchise. But the most cost-effect of the three may be a ‘tweet’ or ‘post’ away, says former Director of Marketing at the International Franchise Association and owner of Burris Branding and Marketing, Jack Burris.

Related: To Buy Into A Franchise Or Purchase A Licence? 3 Factors To Consider

“Three out of four people using the Internet are either on Facebook or LinkedIn or Twitter or all of them. Take advantage of social media,” he says.

“There’s typically no cost to play in the space except for the time that you need to invest to build your brand with a social media presence.”

2. Seek out franchise coaches or brokers

While this is a more traditional method of making reliable franchise sales, it’s a great way to form lasting associations that will take you beyond your first few sales. “Using broker networks is a great way to supplement your own efforts. However, you must spend time developing relationships with these people if you want to get results,” advises Pirtle. “Don’t think that just listing your opportunity with them is sufficient.”

Franchise coaches and brokers have multiple options for potential franchisees, so to put yourself high on their list of consideration when prospects enquire, you have to form memorable relationships.

Related: 3 Factors To Focus On When Opening Your First Franchise

3. Always consider the bigger picture

Out of all the people your marketing efforts attract, always keep in mind that few will check all the boxes and compromising could cost you in the long run.

“The franchise relationship is a long-term one. If you’re going to be successful as a franchisor, you should start with the attitude that every franchisee will be someone who you’ll have to live with for years to come. And nowhere is this philosophy more important than when awarding your first franchise,” says Mark Siebert, CEO of the iFranchise Group, a franchise consulting organisation.

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Researching a Franchise

To Buy Into A Franchise Or Purchase A Licence? 3 Factors To Consider

So you want to become an entrepreneur, but prefer support from an established brand? Franchising isn’t your only option, but is licensing right for you?

Diana Albertyn

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Opening a new business under a successful brand is a sure-fire way to success. Given that you’ve done your homework and the projections are looking good, you could be running a profitable operation in no time. However, the choice between buying into a franchise and purchasing a licence to operate under the brand, in exchange for a fee and portion of your profits can go one of two ways.

“It is essential to understand the difference between a franchising agreement and a licensing agreement, especially when seeking funding from a financial services provider,” says Morné Cronjé, head of franchising at FNB Business.

“Each business model is governed by a completely different agreement or contract and they operate in a unique way.”

Related: Should You Purchase An Existing Franchise?

When contemplating which option is right for you, consider how much independence you’d like to hold as a business owner, what kind of investment and share of the profits you’re willing to make and the type of relationship you’d like with your mother brand.

1Support vs autonomy

When toy industry behemoth Toys “R” Us filed for bankruptcy in September 2017, Toys “R” Us South Africa distanced itself from its US affiliates saying that the SA business is performing so well, it’s embarking on an expansion drive. How can the mothership be suffering while its SA counterpart is thriving?

Toys “R” Us SA is a privately-owned independent company operating under a license agreement with Toys “R” Us Inc. While the local version of the toy giant has purchased the right to use licensed material and intellectual property, the licensor has no control over the operations of the licensee.

With franchising, however, the franchisor exerts more control over the franchisee, but where the franchise lacks in autonomy, it makes up for in support.  “While entering into a franchise requires more of an initial investment, the benefits of an entire organisation supporting you are powerful,” say the owners of US-based fitness studio Barre Forte.

2Financial implications

While both franchisees and licensees pay an upfront fee and ongoing royalty payments to the owner of the brand or intellectual property – the franchisor or licensor – as a licensee, you bear the developmental cost and the risk associated with launching foreign operations.

Cronjé explains a franchising agreement as a duplication of a specific business model, governed or controlled through a franchise agreement where the franchisor holds all rights, including the business model.

“While franchise and license agreements vary significantly, looking at the cost distinctions between the two, it is generally more affordable to pursue a license agreement than a franchise agreement,” he says.

Related: Owning A Franchise – Good Idea Or Bad Idea?

3Relationship matters

The initial investment may be higher for a franchise operation, but access to a proven concept, an established customer base and ongoing product and service innovation could end up wing worth the cost. Not to mention the support franchisees get in the form of ongoing training and assistance with the initial setup process.

“When it comes to training, the licensing model would only train staff on the product they are selling,” explains Cronjé. “This is very different to franchising, where comprehensive training is provided on how to operate the entire business.”

Licensing generally includes some components of franchising, however what the difference is that specific operational support systems aren’t dictated by the group, which could bode well for you if you’re looking for the benefits of a big brand without the red tape.

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