Troy Tappenden, Dream Doors’ founder and chairman, outlines his top tips for finding the right franchise, as well as what he looks for in a franchisee
I’ve helped scores of franchisees get off to a flying start over the last 19 years. Unsurprisingly, this has helped me develop a keen eye for a quality prospective franchisee.
But I also know what franchisees need to look out for as they select their business model.
The first thing for any newcomer joining any franchise to bear in mind is that they have to set time aside to do their research and due diligence.
Make sure the business you’re looking into is ethical - make sure it’s not just charging franchisees without giving them anything tangible in return.
You need to ensure there is real support and training from day one and that you’re not just being shuffled off into your territory and being told to get on with it.
The research is absolutely critical - do as much as you can online and through the specialist franchising publications.
Try to go to a discovery day and the franchise shows throughout the country. Go and talk to franchisors in a nice, neutral and informal environment and see what they’re all about.
Also, go and sit in on some seminars - the more information you have about franchising in general, the better.
I would strongly advise people to think about their skill sets and what they’re good at, as well as what they think they’d enjoy doing for a living.
At Dream Doors, what we’ve found, especially during the recession, is that we were talking to lots of people who had been made redundant. They had a choice to either go out and find another job or to become a franchisee.
For a lot of people, they had a payout from work and were looking to invest that money as wisely as possible. As such, our franchisees come from a variety of backgrounds - we’ve had a judge and a former police chief superintendent, as well as IT professionals and teachers.
The biggest thing we’re looking for is someone who is absolutely driven and has got that hard work ethic.
Having a good CV is great, but the golden thing for us is whether this person is prepared to follow our model. We need that because it’s a proven model - it’s our valuable intellectual property that’s been developed over the years.
We’re looking for people who are hard-working. That’s the key driver and it’s what’s made us one of the most successful franchises out there.
Before you get started, you have to make sure you’re sufficiently financed.
You need to ensure you’ve got enough liquid capital or the ability to borrow from a bank.
And you need to make sure you have enough to at least keep you going throughout your first year, as that will be the toughest.
The figures are, of course, variable among different franchise businesses, but at Dream Doors we tell our franchisees they need to have about £85,000 in total. Around £35,000- £40,000 of that should be liquid cash and the rest can be funded through a bank.
The banks are delighted when we present them with a new franchisee and we have never been turned down for funding.
Look through as many resources as possible. Don’t just investigate the franchise you’re thinking of joining - check out the competitors online and their reviews as well.
Check out these companies’ marketing budgets where you can. The company you’re considering joining should be at or very near the top in the search engine rankings. You don’t want to join a company that isn’t marketing itself well.
Visit the British Franchise Association website, as there’s lots of good information there and it upholds the standards we value at Dream Doors.
Once you’ve narrowed your options down, look at individual businesses’ Google listings and their website. Are they any good?
Personally, I’d be over the moon to see one of my potential franchisees doing that kind of diligent research. It shows they are serious and they’re educating themselves. It shows that someone’s sensible and paying attention to the detail of the proposition and it gives a sense of how the franchisee will try to grow the business.
What does it take?
The qualities I’m looking for in a new franchisee is someone who shows they can, and will, follow the model we have set out.
Are they presentable? Do they seem like they can manage staff? And would they look right going into customers’ homes? That’s all really important. You can’t gauge all that stuff until you’re face to face with someone and you get a good exchange of information.
I’ve rejected potential franchisees before because they didn’t seem like they had the right ‘get up and go’. They didn’t have that hard work ethic I’m looking for, to really throw themselves into it.
We’re not looking for anyone too maverick or who won’t listen to head office and follow the model. To be honest, no decent franchisor is looking for someone like that.
In other instances, I’ve rejected some potential franchisees because they seemed to struggle to communicate well and I couldn’t see them being able to sell to customers in their homes.
In short, a franchisee should be smart, capable and keen. If you’ve found a franchise business you could see yourself being a part of, that’s the way you need to present yourself.
At Dream Doors, our most successful franchisees have generated six-figure incomes within their first full year of trading from a showroom. If you walk into my office and you seem like the kind of person who can achieve that, you’re going to strike a chord with me straight away.