Philip Ciniglio, CEO of Bartercard, looks at the most important questions to ask before making a franchising decision and offers advice to entrepreneurs looking to take the first step.
Many of those enquiring about franchise business opportunities are usually at a crossroads of their lives and looking to make a critical decision about their futures. There are many reasons why someone might consider becoming their own boss, such as a lack of job satisfaction, lack of opportunities for personal or career growth, or even the desire to make more money whilst not feeling that their current career can offer such chances.
Before you decide to take the leap and run your own business, you’ll need to address your own strengths and weaknesses. You’ll also need to decide if you want to utilise your existing skills or learn something new. If you’re going to make a career change, you’ll not only need to be happy with your decision but also be comfortable accepting your new role and the challenges that inevitably arise as a result.
Once you’ve addressed this, you can begin to consider what you’re looking to get out of your new role as a business owner. Is it job satisfaction, independence, money or security that you’re seeking? You’ll also need to consider if self-employment will suit you? What hours are you see yourself working and what is the extent of the investment you are comfortable making?
By considering all of the risks, you’ll enter your new business venture prepared and ready for the challenges and successes that lie ahead. You’ll also need to consider the risks and benefits of buying into an existing brand. Many people come to realise that the franchise sector offers a unique opportunity as it provides access to a proven business system, defines the required investment and is coupled with training, support and marketing. There are, however, many franchise systems operating across the UK, with varied levels of success and development.
Once you’ve established the answers to these questions, you should be in a confident position to know whether franchising is for you – and you can then begin to focus on finding the right franchise. The first step is to research and gain as much information on potential franchises. For example: how long has the franchisor been in business, what are the upfront and ongoing fees, is the brand trademarked and protected?
You’ll also want to find out what is provided to potential franchisees – the quality of the training, the support being offered and the strength of the brand. Franchisees should also consider what the brand’s unique selling proposition is, do they have intellectual property that provides a competitive advantage and how does the satisfaction of existing franchisees within the system rate? You’ll also need to check the small print; the upfront costs and training might look enticing but, as with any contract, there can sometimes be surprises lurking within.
Find out what are the key terms, what the length of tenure and renewals are, whether it is an exclusive or non-exclusive agreement, and what conditions must be met at termination and post-termination of the agreement. Perhaps most importantly of all are the cost implications.
Consider everything as a whole, not just the attractive headline prices used to lure in franchisees. Take into account the franchisee fee, fit-out and equipment costs, the working capital required, cost of training, the cost of opening promotions, legal fees and office supplies. Finally, don’t hesitate to get advice whether it’s legal, business or accounting, speak to existing franchises and ascertain the level of satisfaction and lifestyle achievable through franchising.
As with any business decision, it may not offer guaranteed success but by finding the right company and style of business that suits you, franchising can be a much better choice than going it alone. Joining a franchise can provide you with the support, training, marketing and systems to help you run a successful franchised business. However, it will still be your own venture and the ultimate success will depend upon you to make it happen. But with the right preparation, you’ll have the chance to find success in your franchising venture and business independence for your future.
Bartercard is the world’s-largest business-to-business trade exchange servicing over 55,000 cardholders across nine countries with the world’s-largest computerised Barter Network.