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Top tips for building a successful franchise

Top tips for building a successful franchise

10 Poppies franchisees share the one piece of advice they would have loved their younger self to have known

Sadly, there’s no such thing as a crystal ball when it comes to business ownership and launching any new business has its ups and downs. And franchising is no different.

One benefit of investing in a franchise, however, is the success of many people before you. A network of franchisees, by its very nature, is a gold mine of knowledge and experience, which you can draw on before you launch and for the life of your business.

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Poppies was the UK’s original domestic cleaning franchise. Founded in 1980, the first franchised office was opened in 1984 and is still going strong today. The now 22-strong network of franchisees boasts an impressive combined turnover of £5 million.

Here, 10 franchisees, all at different stages of their franchise life, share the one tip they would have loved their younger self to have known about starting a business:

1. Leverage the franchisor’s experience
“Take full advantage of the experience of the franchisor,” Nigel Bayliss of Poppies Sheffield says. “They have the knowledge of how to make the business a success and you can draw from that to replicate in your own business.

“You’re investing in them, both personally and financially, so think about how you’ll be supported in your own business and whether that meets your expectations.”

2. Do your research
Emma Ryan of Poppies Stockport (pictured) says: “Make a list of the pros and cons of the business to ensure you’re looking at it from all angles. Also, ensure you’re going to have a good support network around you, as they will be crucial for your growth, especially in the early stages of your journey.

“Make sure it’s something you enjoy, means something to you or have had some exposure to, as this will give you a passion and something to build on fairly quickly.”

3. Consider your skill set
“Think about your skill set and what that means in business,” Rob Piper of Poppies Liverpool advises. “As a business owner, you have to perform a wide range of functions and roles, so being able to manage that is paramount.

“You have to be able to build positive working relationships and engender trust and confidence in people - especially if you’re going to be providing a personal service such as cleaning their home. When customers are part of the equation, as well as employees, you’ve got to be really understanding and patient.”

4. Find yourself a mentor
Becky Sagar of Poppies Exeter says: “If you have a mentor, they will be your champion, share your knowledge, help you overcome any obstacles you face when starting up and fight your corner. I could not have done it without my mentor.” 

5. Interrogate yourself beforehand
What do you want the business to achieve? What are your existing skills? How far can you go with it and how will you track it? For how long will you run the business and what’s your exit strategy?

“Try to think ahead to all of these issues before you start, because once you’ve started you won’t have the time,” Wendy James of Poppies Leeds Northwest suggests. “Make plans and allocate time to review them, so you know when you have reached your goals - or not - and can adjust your actions to accommodate.”

6. Be confident in your own abilities
“Don’t wait to be older and more experienced to be confident in your own abilities - now is the time to try,” Andrew Wishart of Poppies Bay & Lakes says.

“Make your own opportunities by being observant and connected. While you need to work hard, a lot can be achieved by working smart. Don’t be afraid to pay for good advice, as it can be priceless.”

7. Be true to yourself
“Follow your intuition, as that’s usually always right,” Leigh Patterson of Poppies Tyne Coast says. 

“And don’t be worried about saying no. You’ve got the freedom to choose something that aligns with you perfectly and gives you the best life possible.”

8. It’s okay to ask for help
“Don’t think you have to do it yourself - it’s okay to ask for help,” Simon West of Poppies Chesterfield and Mansfield advises.

“Make sure you’re able to create a foundation of support around you, so the business can grow at a steady pace without you feeling overwhelmed.” 

9. Spend time with an established franchisee
“Ask the franchisor whether you can spend some time with an existing franchisee to get to grips with their day-to-day activities and how the business actually works,” Richard Pearson of Poppies Wirral says. 

“That way, you’ll be able to make an informed decision about whether it fits with what you’re looking for.”

10. Invest in a British Franchise Association member
Chris Wootton of Poppies West Lancashire & Sefton says: “Choose a franchise that’s accredited by the British Franchise Association. This will give you complete faith that they are an ethical company with a robust support structure that will support you for the life of the franchise.

“Third party recognition is invaluable as a prospective franchisee.”

Ask any business owner and they will have their own piece of advice that they would have loved their younger self to have known. That’s the beauty of hindsight.

The closest you can come to this level of foresight is to actively engage with the existing franchisees of your chosen brand. So ask the franchisor to introduce you to them as part of your due diligence. You may just find the golden nugget that propels you skywards.


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