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Researching a Franchise

Understanding the Terms of Agreement

Once you’ve signed a non-disclosure agreement the franchisor should hand over a franchise agreement for you to analyse.

Tracy Lee Nicol

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One thing you absolutely should do before signing a single page is have the franchise agreement reviewed by an attorney specialising in franchising so they can draw your attention to any red flags or clauses requiring negotiation. In the mean-time, here are important points to consider when going through your franchise agreement.

We-recommend-tickRecommended: Thinking of Everything

Issues pertaining to the franchise cost terms

  1. What does the initial franchise fee purchase?
  2. Does it include an ‘opening’ inventory of products and supplies?
  3. What are the payment terms: Amount, time of payment, lump sum or instalment, financing arrangements, etc.?
  4. Does the franchisor offer any financing or help in finding financing?
  5. Are there any deferred balances? If so, who finances and at what interest?
  6. Is any part, or all of the initial fee refundable?
  7. Does the contract clearly distinguish between ‘total cost’ and ‘initial fee’, ‘initial cash required’, or ‘initial costs’, etc?
  8. Are there periodic royalties? If so, how much are they and how are they determined?
  9. How and when are sales and royalties reported, and how are royalties paid?
  10. If royalty payments are in whole or part payment for services by the franchisor, what services will be provided?
  11. Are accounting/book-keeping services included or available?
  12. How are advertising and promotion costs divided?
  13. Is a specified amount of working capital required of the franchisee to cover operating costs until profits can be made?
  14. Must premises be purchased or rented, and are there further conditions on either of these (from franchisor, selected site, etc)?
  15. How and by whom will the building be financed, if purchased?
  16. Does the franchisee have to make a down payment for construction and/or equipment?

Issues pertaining to the franchise location terms

  1. Does the franchise apply to a specific geographical area? If so, are the boundaries clearly defined?
  2. Who has the right to select the site?
  3. Will other franchisees be permitted to compete in the same area, now or later?
  4. Is the territory an exclusive one, and is it permanent or subject to reduction or modification under certain conditions?
  5. Does the franchisee have a first refusal option on any additional franchises in the original territory if it is not exclusive?
  6. Does the franchisee have a contractual right to the franchisor’s latest products or innovations? If so, at what cost?
  7. Will the franchisee have the right to use his own property and/or buildings? If not, will the franchisor sell or lease his property to the franchisee?
  8. Who is responsible for obtaining zoning variances, if required?

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Issues pertaining to the buildings, equipment and supplier terms

  1. Are plans and specifications of the building determined by the franchisor? If so, does this control extend to selection of contractor and supervision of construction?
  2. Are there any restrictions on remodelling or redecorating?
  3. Must equipment or supplies be purchased from the franchisor or approved supplier, or is the franchisee free to make his own purchases?
  4. When the franchisee must buy from the franchisor, are sales considered on consignment? Or will they be financed and, if so, under what terms?
  5. Does the agreement provide for continuing supply and payment of inventory (by whom, under what terms, etc.)?
  6. Does the franchise agreement bind the franchisee to a minimum purchase quota?
  7. What controls are spelled out concerning facility appearance, equipment, fixture and furnishings, and maintenance or replacement of the same? Is there any limitation on expenditures involved in any of these?
  8. Does the franchisor have a group insurance plan? If not, what coverage will be required, at what limits and costs? Does the franchisor require that it be named as an insured party in the franchisee liability coverage?

Issues pertaining to the operating practices terms

  1. Must the franchisee participate personally in conducting the business? If so, to what extent and under what specific conditions?
  2. What degree of control does the franchisor have over franchise operations, particularly in maintaining franchise identity and product quality?
  3. What continuing management aid, training and assistance will be provided by the franchisor, and are these covered by the service or royalty fee?
  4. Will advertising be local or national and what will be the cost-sharing arrangement, if any, in either case?
  5. If local advertising is left to the franchisee, does the franchisor exercise any control over such campaigns or share any costs?
  6. Does the franchisor provide various promotional materials point-of-purchase, mail programmes, etc. and at what cost?
  7. What are book-keeping, accounting and reporting requirements, and who pays for what?
  8. Are sales or service quotas established? If so, what are the penalties for not meeting them?
  9. Are operating hours and days set forth in the franchise contract?
  10. Are there any limits to what is or can be sold?
  11. Does the franchisor arrange for mass purchasing and is it mandatory for the franchisee to be a participant buyer?
  12. Who establishes hiring procedures initially and through the franchise term?

Issues pertaining to termination and renewal terms

  1. Does the franchisor have absolute privilege of terminating the franchise agreement if certain conditions have not been met, either during the term or at the end?
  2. Does the franchise agreement spell out the terms under which the franchisor may repurchase the business?
  3. Does the franchisor have an option or duty to buy any or all of the franchisee’s equipment, furnishings, inventory, or other assets in the event the franchise is terminated for good cause, by either party?
  4. If the preceding situation occurs, how are purchase terms determined?
  5. Is there provision for independent appraisal? Is any weight given to goodwill or franchisee equity in the business?
  6. Does the original agreement include a clause that the repurchase price paid by the franchisor should not exceed the original franchise fee? If so, this eliminates any compensation for goodwill or equity.
  7. Under what conditions (illness, etc.) can the franchisee terminate the franchise? In such cases, do termination obligations differ?
  8. Is the franchisee restricted from engaging in a similar business after termination? If so, for how many years?
  9. If there is a lease, does it coincide with the franchise term?
  10. Does the contract provide sufficient time for amortisation of capital payments?
  11. Has the franchisor, as required, provided for return of trademarks, trade names, and other identification symbols and for the removal of all signs bearing the franchisor’s name and trademarks?

Other points to consider

  1. Can the franchisee sell the franchised business and assign the franchise agreement to the buyer?
  2. Is the franchise assignable to heirs, or may it be sold by the franchisee’s estate on death or disability?
  3. Does the lease permit assignment to any permitted assignee of the franchisee?
  4. How long has the franchisor conducted business in its industry, and how long has it granted franchises?
  5. How many franchises and company-owned outlets are claimed, and can they be verified?
  6. If there is a trade name of a well-known person involved in the franchise, is he active, does he have any financial interest, does he receive compensation for work or solely for use of his name, etc.?
  7. Are all trademarks, trade names, or other marks fully identifiable and distinct, and are they clear of any possible interference or cancellation owing to any pending litigation?
  8. What is the duration of any patent or copyright material to the franchise? If time is limited, does the franchisor intend to renew, and is this spelled out in the franchise agreement?
  9. Has the franchisor provided the franchisee with an offering document package meeting?
  10. Has the franchisor met all law requirements (registration, or bonding requirements, etc.), if applicable?
  11. Are there laws governing franchisor/franchisee relationships, including contract provisions, financing arrangements and terminations? If so, does the contract meet all requirements?
  12. What are you waiting for? It’s time to launch.

Tracy-Lee Nicol is an experienced business writer and magazine editor. She was awarded a Masters degree with distinction from Rhodes university in 2010, and in the time since has honed her business acumen and writing skills profiling some of South Africa's most successful entrepreneurs, CEOs, franchisees and franchisors.Find her on Google+.

Company Posts

Don’t Tread On Toes – Why Investing In A HIQ Franchise Will Offer You More Opportunities

Are you looking at investing in a tyre replacement and service industry? Look no further than the Hi-Q franchise.

HI-Q

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Vital Stats

Established in 1999, Hi-Q is a successful and diverse multi-product, multi-brand leader in the tyre replacement and service industry with a network of over 130 franchisees nationwide.

With the support of international tyre giant Goodyear, Hi-Q has established a solid reputation of ‘the one you can trust’, and the Hi-Q approach and philosophy is embedded in this.  We have the trust of our customers, our network and our suppliers – that’s why you can trust us to take you and your business to the next level.

When you’re working with people’s safety, trust forms the most significant part of the equation

Hi-Q introduced the original and innovative TyreSurance initiative – the only aftermarket tyre damage guarantee product that backs the consumer no matter the brand of tyre. Each Hi-Q Franchise offers a broad range of brands within the different product and service categories that customers know they can trust, and at prices they can afford. Product and services include tyres, exhausts, shocks, batteries or brakes, wheel alignment or balancing, and a 10-point safety check.

We have identified areas of opportunity to extend our Franchise footprint growth. If you are looking to join a new franchise and you share in our values and vision, we would like to hear from you.

For further information on how to become a franchisee, call us on +27 11 394 3150.

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Related: We Want To Invite You To Join Us On The Hi-Q Journey And Become A Franchisee

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Researching a Franchise

Be In The Property Business For Yourself, Not By Yourself

Why property franchising makes good business sense in today’s market.

Keith Broadfoote-Brown

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Opening a real estate franchise has been a thriving and successful business model in South Africa for decades. Despite the challenges currently facing the South African economy, property will continue to prosper and provide entrepreneurs with an opportunity to own their own successful businesses and become leading members of their local business communities.

“The residential property market is a dynamic, thriving industry offering substantial career opportunities.

Joining a property franchise business gives entrepreneurs the opportunity to align themselves with reputable, established businesses with a national footprint who have invested in their brands and have access to international networks,” says Russell Berkman, Franchise Director at Jawitz Properties.

While the property industry is competitive there is still great potential for growth. Worldwide, franchising has proven to be one of the most successful business models with failure rates well below those of starting a business from scratch.

Related: How to Become a Property Franchisee

For the franchisee, it is one of the most intelligent ways of starting and growing a business and by combining the proven business formula of the franchisor with the entrepreneurial drive of the owner-franchisee, the likelihood of a successful business venture for both parties is increased significantly.

According to Keith Broadfoote-Brown, the owner and Principal of the Jawitz Properties Ballito franchise in KwaZulu-Natal, property franchise still makes good business sense in today’s market.

The benefits of being a property franchise owner

Becoming a property franchisee gives a businessperson unlimited potential to succeed in the property industry as the success achieved is a direct result of the effort, commitment and drive put in. It means being self-employed within an organisational structure and offers the same structure and benefits to sales and rental consultants.

“It gives you the opportunity to leverage your business’ success off the intellectual capital, brand, expertise and know-how of an established business that has a proven business model, IT platforms, marketing expertise, training and self-development programmes as well as having access to years of experience in these fields.  My mantra is ‘be in business for yourself, not by yourself’,” says Brown.

Skills needed to succeed as a property franchisee

The most important competencies would be to have an entrepreneurial character and business skills such as financial literacy, HR/people skills and marketing acumen; a people’s person with a resilient and driven personality. Experience in real estate is always beneficial but not required as it is all about using business skills, marketing acumen and entrepreneurial tenacity to make your mark.

Related: How Brigid Prinsloo Made (A Lot Of) Money On Airbnb

Brown explains, “Absolute professionalism and integrity and a fierce determination to exceed your client’s service expectations are essential. And you must be able to develop a highly competent sales team, explore new opportunities for your business and operate as a team player within a franchise structure”.

Current state of the property market

The property market in SA currently reflects the economy and is weighted in favour of buyers, so sellers need to be very realistic with their price expectations. Buyers are buying where they perceive good value and value is indeed the key driver in the market today.

The opportunities are strong for buyers to invest in this ‘down’ market and conditions are also ideal to upgrade one’s home. In every region and in every suburb there are homes offering good value and these are selling well, despite the tougher trading conditions.

Opportunities outweigh the challenges

“The opportunity for real estate professionals is to find and secure the well-priced, good value, properties as they are selling!

It is also an opportune time to enter the market as a franchisee or new agent/intern as I am firmly of the view that great estate agents learn their profession well in a tough market and when the market improves, as it surely will, these sales professionals will have a solid grounding and strong foundation on which to build their real estate careers.

Challenges are to manage costs in these tough trading conditions. To keep motivated and continue to consistently drive the very basic activities needed to succeed in real estate,” says Brown.

Top 3 things to consider before entering the industry

According to Brown, his top 3 considerations are as follows:   

  1. You need sufficient start-up capital as the initial investment in starting the business and the monthly expenses to run the business can be substantial. The income from sales and rentals may be slow in the early years, hence the need for good planning and sufficient start-up funds.
  2. Owning one’s own business means the buck stops with you! A well thought out and well implemented business plan is key. The first 2-3 years consist of long hours and could potentially be financially strained, as in any start-up business, but the rewards of owning your franchise and being ‘master of your own destiny’ are worth it!
  3. This is a tough business for tough-minded people. Having an initial mindset of ‘it is harder than I think’ rather than ‘it will be smooth sailing’ is a better approach and will prepare the franchisee for the hiccups that will surely come along.

Property franchising makes good business sense

The end result of being a successful property franchisee is financial security. Owning a brand office assures the owner of having an asset and the credibility, back-up and brand promise assures clients they are in safe and professional hands.

“I would definitely recommend being part of a major brand rather than a being a small real estate entity, especially in this competitive industry. Property is a challenging industry that, like everything else, goes through cycles, influenced by factors like inflation and interest rates, among others.

Drive, initiative and resilience are therefore essential qualities for a successful property franchisee. Absolute professionalism and integrity and a fierce determination to exceed your client’s service expectations are essential,” Brown concludes.

Related: Want To Start A Property Business That Buys Property And Rents It Out?

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Researching a Franchise

Col’Cacchio – Benefits Of The Franchise Model

Six key benefits of the restaurant franchise model – and what to look out for when considering a franchise.

Russell Otty

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For investors looking to the restaurant industry and considering a franchise knowing it has a proven track record and is therefore possibly a lower risk, there are a few key things to be aware of about the benefits of the franchise model, which if investigated, can also point to a franchise that is not for you.

Russell Otty, Chief Operating Officer of the Col’Cacchio Group, shares some of these key benefits and indicators of whether a franchise is for you:

1. Making the cut as a franchisee gives you the confidence that you are making the right decision

You may think psychometric testing, three days in a restaurant following a franchisee around, and a panel interview with the senior management of the franchisor, is a bit over the top, but the franchisor that puts you through your paces and assesses your ability and commitment to running the business, is doing you a huge favour and may even help you see this is not for you. It goes both ways, and after an intense courtship, you should know if you want to try a long-term relationship.

Related: Col’ Cacchio: A Passion For Pizza

2. Assistance with location selection and negotiation of the terms of your lease

One thing you can do to limit your risk is to not open a restaurant in the first place if your rent is not going to be reasonable or you simply won’t get customers through the door. The franchisor will vet and approve the site – they will have extensive insight into what has worked or not worked location-wise for their brand, and can assist you to weigh up the area and it’s potential to attract customers.

The commercial terms of a lease is very important – you can’t be too ambitious about turnover targets, and having the backing of a franchisor can be beneficial if a landlord becomes unreasonable.

3. Staff training and development tools on hand

Consistency is important with restaurant franchises, as a customer visiting a brand anywhere in the country, goes there knowing exactly what they are going to get. This is best achieved with solid training, perhaps access to resources such as training videos, and regular visits from franchise managers.

You should check with your franchisor what level of training and franchise support you will have on an ongoing basis. Ask about the ratio of field trainers and operations managers to the number of franchisees in the group. You want the franchisor in your restaurant in some shape or form, two or three times a month, whether it be the training manager, the regional franchise manager or the national operations manager.

4. Access to supplier networks to manage your input costs

Negotiating basket pricing with distributors regionally and nationally, the franchisor will leverage their buying power on your behalf. They should assist to manage your suppliers and make sure deliveries happen on time, and ensure that product quality remains consistent. They can also negotiate to ensure your input costs do not increase before the next menu launch – so you can ensure your margins remain intact.

5. Brand loyalty and locality marketing

When you buy a restaurant franchise, you gain a group of customers who know who you are, the food you serve and the way you make them feel. The money you will pay towards marketing each month gives you insight into the broader restaurant market, the experience of what is working across a number of sites, and how best to keep the attention of new and existing customers.

Some franchisors offer locality marketing assistance – your site and area has specific needs that other outlets may not have, or there may be events in the area that can be leveraged to run special offers. Ask if the franchisor offers this as a service, as it can assist you greatly to have an advantage over other restaurants in your area.

Related: Beginners Guide To Digital Marketing In South Africa

6. Business development insights

The franchisor has access to insights gained across the group, and the systems that they have in place to track costs and increase profit margins, can be of huge assistance. If you are looking for business support, a franchise manager can be the one sitting with you telling you that you spent R2 000 too much on cleaning this month or saying you need to wait till next month to make that purchase. The level of business support you will have access to, is an important factor to consider, depending on the level of support you may require.

Recipe for success

Nine times out of ten, a restaurant franchise that fails, fails because the franchisee loses interest or lacks the commitment to make it work. Selecting the best franchise for you as the investor, or as a restaurant entrepreneur, is the most important first step you can take towards success, so do the homework.

Don’t assume that because you are buying into a successful brand that it will be a success – business is not an exact science – you need to do your own due diligence and take responsibility for your business, because it is after all your own investment.

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