Pip Wilkins, chief executive of the British Franchise Association, explains what to expect
Figures from the British Franchise Association NatWest franchise survey 2015 show that brand expansion through business format franchising has proven to be a lucrative option for both franchisors and their franchisees.
This success is made achievable by a franchise business building the right foundations and managing the operation properly.
Good franchisors will train their franchisees well at the start and provide them with the necessary tools to recreate their business model, provide ongoing support throughout their time with the brand and be selective about the franchisees they welcome into the network.
What will the franchisor do to single out the best prospects? The head office team will have a process in place that’s been developed through trial and error, learning from previous experience to ensure only the most suitable prospects are accepted.
Here are some key areas that often surprise prospective franchisees who are going through the recruitment process:
How long it will take
A good and ethical franchise will not offer you a territory in the first hourlong meeting. If it does, you should think twice before parting with your money or signing any legally binding documents.
It will take time for you and the franchisor to get a feel for each other - the whole process can take from a couple of weeks to up to a year. If the time it takes seems excessive, consider the benefits of a thorough franchisor and try not to get frustrated.
The franchisor may make requests that seem odd to you, such as asking to meet in your home or inviting your partner or spouse to attend the meetings with you (whether or not they will be taking on the responsibility of the franchise with you).
The franchisor will want to understand you as a person and whether you have the support of your significant other and family. Starting a business is hard work whether you’re joining a franchise or doing it alone. If you don’t have the right qualities, are not motivated or don’t have the support of your family, it will only make it harder.
Your exit strategy
Many franchisees are caught off guard when a franchisor asks if they have an exit strategy in place. It may seem counter-intuitive, like planning your divorce before you’re married.
However, it’s important for the franchisor to know if you have a goal you’re working towards.
You may want to build the business for 10-15 years and then sell it before moving on to your next challenge or even retiring. You may be uncertain at this stage what your end goal is. If the franchisor knows what you hope to achieve as a franchisee and when you plan to exit, it can help you to plan accordingly.
Whether you choose to join a franchise or not, make sure you’re open with the franchisor and do your own research on whether the franchise you’re considering is right for you.
Good franchisors will appreciate a franchisee who takes the process seriously and that includes knowing what you’re letting yourself in for and being sure it matches what you want from your business.
Franchising provides a fantastic option for running your own business using a tried and tested formula, along with the ongoing support of the franchisor. However, assurance of these benefits follows good research and hard work.