A run-down of how the industry’s biggest brands are making business ownership possible for every kind of entrepreneur
One of the main benefits of franchising is its accessibility. It has the inherent benefits and independence that come with opening your own business but provides a support network to help first-time entrepreneurs or even established franchisees make the most of their respective market.
Don’t just take out word for it, though. To highlight just how accessible franchising is across a variety of industries, we reached out to the most successful franchise brands to find out how they’re making business ownership more possible than ever before.
Established: 1998 (U.S.), 2017 (U.K.)
Number of locations: Over 700
Interviewee: Dan Archer, managing director (U.K.)
What steps are in place to help entrepreneurs to become Visiting Angels franchisees?
Initial training provides the opportunity to learn from our industry experts; people who have spent decades in both the care and the franchise industry, and who know how to make this business work. We would usually fly franchisees to our worldwide HQ in Philadelphia for classroom-style training but, whilst that’s not possible, the programme is conducted virtually – with a week of learning coming directly from the U.K. head office.
We don’t believe in training franchisees once and sending them on their way. We provide regular, ongoing training for the life of their franchise: a combination of e-learning, live webinars, group, and one-to-one sessions provide a comprehensive program, designed to help them to be the best business owner they can be.
What kind of experience or personality traits are important for your franchisees?
Franchisees don’t need a background in health or social care or need to have run their own business before, but there are some skills and experiences that are essential for making a success. These include:
• People management: Franchisees run a big team and need to delegate effectively
• Resilience: As a care provider, we have the usual setbacks and rejections, alongside contending with challenges such as recruitment, retention of caregivers, and even the death of beloved clients
• Advanced communication: As the face of the business, franchisees need the ability to engage with all manner of people, articulating how and why Visiting Angels is different
• Emotional intelligence: Our business is steeped in emotion, from clients and their families to our caregivers, and franchisees must truly be in tune with our carer-centric mission.
Number of locations: 280
Interviewee: Stacey Ryan, COO
How do you support entrepreneurs from inquiring, all the way to owning a School of Rock location?
Many of our inquiries are results of a direct or indirect experience with School of Rock. Their child attends a school, they have friends who attend, or they saw a show and were amazed. It doesn’t take long for people to get hooked on School of Rock.
From the signing of the franchise agreement to the opening of their doors, all new schools are closely supported by our New School Openings team. This team works diligently to support all milestones from lease signing to day-to-day operations. We are all working together toward the same goal and it is a team approach every step of the way.
What kind of personality fits the School of Rock franchise opportunity best?
School of Rock is looking for well-qualified candidates who have either an existing franchise background or who have had experience managing people in their former careers.
Additionally, we are looking for candidates who have a passion for music, enjoy being with children, and are looking for a valuable business opportunity coupled with a desire to give back to their community.
Number of locations: Several thousand
Interviewee: Jamie Wolfe, director, franchise development
Who stands out as an especially strong franchisee within your network?
One franchisee who comes to mind is Vicki Dunn Marshall of West Virginia, who started with the brand as a store crew member. While it’s not uncommon for operators to have worked their way up through the system, Vicki has become one of our most commanding franchisees with a very large footprint.
The passion she developed for the brand as a Little Caesars employee inspired her to invest in the franchise opportunity. After nearly 40 years of growing her business by bringing family and other franchisees into the fold, her network is now 26 franchise locations strong across three states: West Virginia, Kentucky, and Ohio. She’s even evolved her business with a food truck to meet consumers in areas outside of her standard markets.
What’s the step-by-step journey from entrepreneur to Little Caesars franchisee?
The prospect’s journey starts with their inquiry, to which a development manager will respond by reaching out for the candidate’s background, business goals, desired location, and financial qualifications. After this, the candidate will fill out a Little Caesars franchise application, return any required documentation and pass both a background and credit check.
Upon passing these checks, Little Caesars provides the candidate a franchise disclosure document (FDD) and additional networking connections to other current franchisees whom they can contact for first-hand insight into what the franchise opportunity entails.
From inquiry to store opening, candidates are taken through each of these steps in a seamless manner. We utilise an internal CRM tool where cross-functional team members at Little Caesars corporate work together closely to ensure that the candidate is serviced properly at every stage of the process.
Number of locations: 350 agreements awarded
Interviewee: Sherry Rose, COO
Do franchisees need restoration experience to succeed with Restoration 1?
Restoration 1 franchisees include former stockbrokers, corporate executives, and tradesmen alike, all of whom enjoy equal success. Neither industry experience nor experience owning a business is required, but we recommend that you have a proven track record of leadership and are confident in your ability to manage people, have an entrepreneurial spirit, are community-minded, and have the drive to follow our business model.
How approachable do you think the franchise industry is?
I personally believe people are more aware of franchising today than ever before, as there are so many great concepts. The more people understand that there are choices that can fit their needs and interests, franchising will become even more popular and attractive to individuals.
Number of locations: 22
Interviewee: Chris Wootton, managing director
What does your franchisee network look like?
Our franchisees come from a variety of backgrounds including former bank managers, careers advisors, teachers, nurses, ex-forces personnel plus a wide range of management positions. They all share one common thread – their ambition to build a successful and profitable business that is rewarding and lifestyle friendly.
Many of our franchisees started the business in new territories but we also have several second-generation franchisees who took over from their parents at retirement and others who bought established businesses from retiring franchisees.
Do you think more education is needed around franchising?
Whilst the franchise industry likes to think it’s approachable – and it has certainly seen major progression in the last decade – I think there remains some fundamental confusion for the general public about what a franchise is. We continue to educate people about why they don’t necessarily need business experience and operational experience in a particular field to make a good franchisee.
It’s important we take every opportunity as an industry to explain clearly to the wider public how a franchise exists to support a business partnership with a franchisee – you bring your strengths and we, as the franchisor, help to back up any skills or experience gaps.
Number of locations: Almost 4,400
Interviewee: Mary Kennedy Thompson, COO
Who’s a particularly stand-out franchisee from your network?
Valerie Stewart of Mr. Appliance is a great example of someone who has excelled as a home services business owner despite having a strictly corporate career for 28 years prior to opening her franchise.
She knew that the resources could build a profitable business, and she wouldn’t have to invent each and every component needed for success thanks to the coaching and guidance she’d receive from Mr. Appliance. She focused on serving her customers with the experience of the franchisor, and she’s now a shining example of best practices for the other owners in our network.
Is franchising approachable?
I started my journey in franchising almost 30 years ago as a franchisee myself, so I can attest to the approachability of franchising as a whole. I came from a military background with no business experience at all and was given a system to learn from and follow to help ensure my success. I would not have had succeeded early on without the franchising safety net. Franchising is about systems and being able to replicate them with scale – I saw that firsthand.
Number of locations: 602
Interviewee: Justin Nihiser, CEO
Do you think the franchise industry is as welcoming as it could be for female entrepreneurs?
The franchise industry has continued to evolve to become a more inclusive and equitable model for successful small business owners. As that happens, more women are joining the franchise industry as owners of franchise locations and as franchisors. There are a variety of franchise concepts that are increasingly approachable to women in the tech, health, and beauty space – and Code Ninjas is just one of them. In the end, it is up to the team that first interacts with potential franchisees to make or break the approachability of the specific franchise. I could own a franchise with a scope that’s perfect for your experience and passion, but if I don’t make it possible for you to get involved and see if it is truly a perfect fit, we both could lose out.
What kind of person makes a good Code Ninjas franchisee?
We’re looking for people who are passionate about empowering kids to unlock their potential for the future. That could be anyone from white-collar professionals looking for a more rewarding career, to IT and technology professionals who already understand the value of learning to code, to educators – and anyone in between. A number of our franchisees are parents who were looking for a similar program for their own kids, realised it didn’t exist, and chose to bring Code Ninjas to their communities. The most important thing is being able to follow the proven system.
Established: 1993 (Australia), 2001 (U.K.)
Number of locations: Over 200 in U.K.
Interviewee: Julie Wagstaff, managing director
What makes business coaching a great opportunity for first-time franchisees?
I think the strength here for us lies in the amazing network of 200-plus franchise partners we have in the U.K., not to mention hundreds further afield globally, who are all willing to support our new franchise partners joining.
Business coaching is about recognising the challenges that business owners are facing, then offering solutions in a way that empowers the business owner to gain confidence for future challenges.
It’s rare that a new franchise partner can come across a scenario a client finds themselves in which hasn’t already been addressed by another Action Coach in our network.
Do you think franchising is an approachable industry?
Absolutely. It’s great that more and more women are getting into the industry. With our training and support, it helps franchise partners build the life that they want – this is great for our female franchise partners who may have thought they would have difficulty juggling a business with family life.
I believe we’re seeing a shift in the business coaching profession and I’m confident that soon enough we will see a balance between the proportion of men and women in this B2B service. With ongoing awards, events, and initiatives helping to recognise those shining stars, we’re heading in the right direction to help achieve just that.