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Buying your first franchise?

Buying your first franchise?

Here’s what you need to know, according to law firm Darwin Gray

Franchising is a fantastic option for those who are new to business. No business is ever risk free, but by buying a franchise you will have the comfort of knowing that the business model is tried and tested, plus you’ll benefit from initial and ongoing support from your franchisor.

Here’s a list of Darwin Gray’s top things to know before buying a franchise:

You’re buying a business, not a job

One of the biggest misconceptions is that as a franchisee, you are effectively buying a job. This is wrong: you are buying a business.

While you will have to follow a set of rules and guidelines set down by the franchisor - generally set out in the franchise manual - you will be running your own business. You will enjoy the benefits, and carry the risks, of any business owner.

While your franchisor will give you support, particularly in the early days, it is down to you to make your business a success.

You need to be able to follow the system

You will be given a comprehensive manual setting out exactly how to run your franchise business, often supplemented by other guidance from time to time.

To be a successful franchisee, you need to be able to follow the system set down by the franchisor. If you are a natural innovator or rule breaker, you should think carefully as to whether you will be able to follow a franchise manual.

Choosing the right franchise

There are thousands of franchises to choose from. A typical franchise term lasts for five years, so you need to ensure you purchase something you are enthusiastic about and are well suited to.

Do your research. There is a huge amount of information available online and make sure you speak with as many franchisees as possible.

Darwin Gray also recommends you complete the free British Franchise Association Prospect Franchisee Certificate, which is available online at This certificate is an excellent way to sell yourself to franchisors, plus it will help you identify your key personality traits.

The franchise agreement

The franchise agreement is the main legal document that will govern your relationship with your franchisor. They are typically very long, setting out the support the franchisor will offer you, as well as all your obligations under the agreement.

The franchise agreement will be heavily weighted in favour of the franchisor and will be issued on a ‘take it or leave it’ basis. It’s a commercial agreement and you won’t get the same protection as a consumer.

Make sure you take advice on the agreement, so you know what you are signing up to. Darwin Gray recommends using a lawyer affiliated to the British Franchise Association, who will be familiar with the sector and give you sensible advice.

Darwin Gray is a bfa affiliate. Team members Stephen Thompson and Siobhan Williams are the only two lawyers in Wales holding the bfa’s Qualified Franchise Professional qualification.


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