Where do you begin when it comes to launching a new business in the franchise sector? Richard Pakey explains how to make the right initial moves
So, you’ve finally decided that you want to be your own boss. What took you so long? While there’s no manual out there to guide you through each step, the following advice might help you decide why a franchise might be the best option for you and start you on the road to a fulfilling new career. Let’s start with the basics. Reassuringly, a franchise is often a more viable option than starting a business from scratch, especially if you lack previous experience. There are some unique advantages: it will be built on a tried and tested system; provide initial and ongoing training, and enable you to tap into experienced support to help you along the way. These factors are not only vital for getting your business launched but critical to its ongoing success.
Follow your passion
Owning and running a business can be tough at the best of times. It’s not the same as being an employee – there are so many additional duties that come with the territory.
If the idea of hard work and responsibility doesn’t daunt you, then you should consider starting your own business, and the franchising sphere could be ideal for you. It’s fair to say that owning a franchise isn’t for everyone, but with at least 1,000 in the UK to choose from, there could well be something out there that’s perfect for you.
Have a think first about what it is that makes you get up in the morning and work full steam ahead. Without passion to drive you on, you will be left running on empty, and this is no way to run a business. You want to feel like your work doesn’t actually feel like work! Fair enough, this might seem like an ‘ideal’ statement to make but think back to your days of employment. Were you just in it for the money?
This should feel like a new chapter in your life. Start with the right intentions and no day will ever feel like a working day again!
Do your research
You won’t have any problem extracting information from franchisors, you just need to let them know who you are. Don’t just go with the headline information – request further details so that you can figure out as soon as possible what the business is really about.
Sometimes, it might not be clear cut what exactly the franchise is or does, and that’s OK – you should feel free to initiate further conversation. But if the basic details look good to you, then do some of your own research. What products or services does the franchise sell? Who do you think might be its direct competitors? How crowded is the marketplace? Knowing these basic elements will help you in any future conversations with the franchisor.
Use the resources available
Have a look around a very good franchise directory (such as what-franchise.com). There will be many types of franchises listed by price, category or sector, giving you access to lots of options at your fingertips.
Also, consider attending franchise exhibitions. Franchisors in attendance will be keen to link up with people who have a genuine interest. You might get even meet the actual franchisor owner in this environment, which is ideal as you can see if you actually align.
Talk to franchisees
Do you know someone in your existing network who’s a franchisee? If you do, ask them about their personal experience of running a franchise. It doesn’t matter if they’re not in the franchise field you’re interested in - you just want their honest and personal insight. Just remember to take a measured approach, as some people’s experiences might not match up to your own expectations.
You can also ask to talk to franchisees in the actual business you’re interested in. Be aware that the franchisor will want you to do this at the appropriate stage, so follow their system and they will be receptive to supplying details of people who you can contact in due course.
Go to a consultant
You might find this surprising, but using a consultancy resource won’t necessarily cost you anything. This is because franchise consultants are often retained by brand owners to deal with recruitment on their behalf. Here you’ll have access to a team of professionals mandated to ensure they find the correct fit both for you and for the recruiting franchise. Some consultants might look after several franchised brands and can help you decide which ones suit your own skills and investment level, so are a great starting point.
Remember, you’re never alone in franchising!
The franchising sector is a wonderful space in which to get involved and now could be one of the best times in our history to be part of it. The UK still has some way to go in terms of catching up with other developed countries, but as a nation, we seem to be becoming more receptive to buying into franchises as opposed to choosing independence when it comes to starting a business. It’s true that anyone can buy a franchise, so don’t be limited by what you think is possible and make the next step towards finding the perfect fit for you.
Richard Pakey is a franchising expert and managing director for the award-winning Lime Licensing Group.