Steve Welsh, managing director of Kare Plus, reveals his seven steps to becoming a successful franchisee
It goes without saying that to make a success of running your own business you must be self motivated. You have invested in the opportunity to become independent and free of other people telling you what to do. There’s no boss breathing down your neck if you turn up late at the office, so arguably you could stay in bed that bit longer.
But if that sounds like you, you’re probably not suited to franchising. With your own franchise, you are your own boss. You need to be organised and self disciplined, as only your own ambition, commitment and hard work will ensure you succeed. Franchising is a proven and safer route to successful self employment, but it’s not an easy ride.
Don’t reinvent the wheel
Although you may hear a lot about the franchise industry wanting ‘entrepreneurs’, in some ways this isn’t strictly true. We want successful business owners with the vision and tenacity to build and develop their own operations. We also want people with initiative who have good ideas.
However, key to franchising compared to ‘go it alone’ start-ups, is that there is a given template to follow. We know that if franchisees follow the proven business model and listen to the franchisor they can achieve success. It’s a matter of taking advantage of an established, recognised brand and a system that works. If you prefer to do your own thing, with your own plans and ideas, great - but you might just be better considering setting up on your own rather than becoming a franchisee.
Do your research
With over 900 franchised businesses in the UK, the array of opportunities available can be bewildering, so make sure you research them carefully. Once you settle on a sector that suits you, check out your market potential. To be successful, your business will need to operate in a marketplace with plenty of potential customers and a proven demand for your product or service.
Over and above that, you need to be sure that your market is sustainable will your services continue to be in demand over the years ahead? Our franchisees often tell us that one reason why they opted for Kare Plus is that health care is virtually a recession proof marketplace. Health is not a commodity or a one off purchase, but an ongoing priority. What’s more, with an ageing population in the UK the potential marketplace for care is growing and will continue to do so. Therefore, look for a franchise with long term potential and a continually replenishing marketplace that can offer security as well as profitability.
Check out the competition
Take a look at your potential competitors. In most markets there will be at least a few - if it’s a good marketplace, it’s highly unlikely that others will have missed it. However, it’s important to stand out from the crowd. Even in the busiest of marketplaces, businesses find ways to differentiate themselves and increase their appeal to customers.
Our unique sales point, for example, is that we provide nursing and domiciliary solutions to hospitals and care homes, as well as to those at home. This differentiates us from most other care franchises and also sets us apart in the marketplace, giving our franchisees competitive advantage when speaking to customers. Whichever sector you choose, find the franchise that offers something a little different from the rest.
Good organisational skills are vital to effective business management. In the early days you will need to ensure you utilise your time effectively and later, when you are more established, operating efficiently will be key to keeping customers happy and maximising profitability.
In the health care sector compliance is key and you can expect to be subjected to audits. At Kare Plus we have developed a purpose designed IT system to help you remain compliant with latest requirements while operating efficiently and profitably. However, ultimately it is your business and on a day to day basis it will be up to you to plan for success.
Have realistic expectations
Come into franchising with your eyes wide open. A good franchise can provide all the tools you need to become a successful business owner, but a credible franchisor won’t promise that you’ll make a fortune overnight.
People become franchisees for many reasons - to gain independence, a better work/life balance and, of course, to make good money. While a new franchise business has the edge over individual start-ups in that its brand and the marketplace already exists, nonetheless as a franchisee you should expect to have to build the income you aspire to over a realistic period. That means budgeting and planning carefully for the early months of your franchise.
Find a franchise that fits
Take plenty of time to choose the franchise that’s right for you - after all, this is a major life decision. Think carefully about what you want from your business. Consider your strengths and attributes before drawing up a shortlist of potential opportunities.
You may prefer to stay within a sector you know and build on your existing experience - many of our franchisees, although certainly not all, have a background in health or social care, for instance. Alternatively, if you feel like a total change of direction the beauty of franchising is that your franchisor already has the necessary experience, market knowledge and brand presence to help you succeed in a new sector.
So take time to reflect on what you want to achieve from your business and what you can see yourself doing possibly for the rest of your working life. Making money is essential, but make sure you’re going to achieve satisfaction and fulfilment from your new business too.
Finally, possibly the most important ingredient in your recipe for success is your personality. Running your own business is incredibly satisfying and highly rewarding, but it’s challenging too.
Before you take the plunge, ask yourself whether you are temperamentally suited to the pressures of self employment and whether you have 100 per cent support for your decision from those closest to you. You need to be a positive person, always seeing the opportunities and the potential ahead of you, rather than focusing on inevitable early setbacks. Investing in a franchise is not the same as buying a job. It takes hard work and commitment to get it off the ground, as well as continued dedication to keep it going and growing.
Different franchises will require different skill sets and personal qualities. At Kare Plus we look for business acumen and ambition, but all franchisors will expect commitment, tenacity and plenty of hard work on your part to make the partnership work. If you have the determination to succeed in business and have taken time to consider your options, there is nothing standing in your way. Simply follow your franchisor’s formula for success - you’ll reap long term rewards and make a great franchisee.