Kevin Thackrah, managing director of Petpals UK, explains why buying a franchise is about being in business for yourself, but not by yourself
When a prospective franchisee arrives for an initial meeting with a franchisor, they’ve usually done plenty of research into franchising and, more specifically, the brand they’re considering.
Thanks to Google and magazines like What Franchise, their initial thirst for knowledge can easily be quenched. There are still some basic facts, however, that franchisors should cover with potential franchisees at these first meetings.
A decent franchisor will take the time to go over the basic facts before the relationship begins, so the prospective franchisee is aware of the realities of being a franchise business owner.
It’s a little known fact that many franchisors spend more time putting people off buying their franchise than selling them; a bad franchisee can cause havoc in the brand, so the franchisor will want you to be 100 per cent right for the company before it considers sharing its business with you.
Congratulations, you’re the owner of a small business
As the owner of a franchise business, you need to understand that from day one you’re a self-employed business owner and that, even with all the help and support you’ll receive, your business will only succeed with hard work and by following the franchise system.
The franchisor is not there to give you a list of potential clients, prop up your business or wave a magic wand to give you ‘instant business success’. It’s there to guide and support you in building your own business, giving you the benefit of a proven concept and allowing you to take advantage of the existing systems and processes it’s spent many years developing.
If you fail to work hard and engage with the franchisor and the network, prepare to be less successful than those who do.
Franchising is not the ‘easy option’
The reason the British Franchise Association/NatWest survey is able to give such positive statistics about the success of franchise businesses every year is not because franchising is an easy option, but because a franchisor has a proven, successful operating model and provides support to help make sure its business is a success.
This success rate is largely down to franchisors choosing the right people to join their brand, selecting only people who they can see share the company’s ethos and have the right work ethic and determination to build a strong and successful business.
Facing new challenges
It’s a fact that many people come into franchising looking for a total change in career and lifestyle. The fireman who wants to own a fitness company, the accountant who fancies running a domestic cleaning agency or the policeman who wants to spend his day looking after pets with a Petpals pet care franchise.
In each of these cases, in their previous employment there were systems and processes for every eventuality. As the owner of your own business, these ‘everyday’ issues now fall to you.
As well as developing your business within the brand, there are other tasks that come with being a business owner, such as marketing, accounts and tax and employment issues. The franchisor can provide help and guidance in these matters.
Franchising - business, but with a helping hand
The beauty of the franchising system is that, yes you’re a small business owner who has to work hard to make your business a success but, unlike your competitor down the road who has chosen to go it alone, you’re starting off with a huge advantage.
You’re probably buying into a brand that has longevity, national presence and a good reputation honed over many years.
You have a website and social media channels that reflect your business and with the franchisor’s help will drive traffic to the website, creating good SEO links, which in turn increases your chances of being found locally on Google by your customers.
You will have a network of colleagues all running exactly the same business as you, but who are not in competition with you and who are willing to meet, advise and share best practice on a regular basis.
A strong network is better for the brand and all your ‘newbie’ questions are the same ones they had when they first started.
You will have constant access to experienced head office staff, who will teach you everything you need to know about running, marketing and advertising your business.
Ask any ‘regular’ self-employed person what they’d give for this kind of support and you will realise the huge benefit to being part of a franchise.
You will be provided with the company’s operations and technical manuals - a step by step guide to running your business - to refer back to in moments of uncertainty. And if you’re still not sure, you can simply pick up the phone to either head office or one of your fellow franchisees.
You may have the services of a professional PR agency helping to launch you not only locally, but also to offer you ongoing PR opportunities to help support your business.
You will have access to the company’s pre-designed, customised marketing material, such as flyers, posters, banners, etc that provide a consistent brand image.
What no customer list?
No, your franchisor won’t be handing you a list of customers.
What it will be giving you is virtually everything else you could possibly need to build and grow a successful business that you can one day sell as an ongoing concern, as part of a nationally recognised company, unlike the selfemployed person who, on retirement, simply walks away with the memories.