Every aspirational franchisee would be well advised to start his or her search for the perfect franchise with a long list of well thought through ‘must tick’ boxes
Through 44,200 franchisee-owned businesses, the industry employs around 621,000 people and contributes some £15.1bn to the UK economy. It is a vastly diverse business area to research thoroughly but with a sensible and systematic approach, refining your options to a realistic and workable shortlist is readily achievable.
Your list of ‘must tick’ boxes may well include geographical locations, a preference for businesses that utilise previously acquired experience or your highly personal aspirations, but the number one item in the list should always be the question: “Can I fund this franchise?”
Here we take a closer look at the opportunities offered by the low-cost franchise sector.
The low-cost sector of franchising embraces two important elements. First is the initial franchise fee which buys you the complete ‘business in a box’ package - complete with all the product information and manuals you need to kick-start your new career.
Low-cost franchises are readily available from under £5k and the choice widens further between £5k and £10k, so fall easily into the tightest of budgets. They can be found in areas such as domestic cleaning, pet food delivery, children’s activities, oven cleaning and mobile coffee outlets, among many others. They offer the benefits of working from home and, importantly, the option to create the work/life balance you might be looking for.
The other elements of the low-cost equation relate to overheads and running costs. A fast food business with a high street presence will obviously demand a much higher initial outlay to secure premises, a shop fit to reflect the franchisor’s brand values and established retail style, and a range of specialist equipment.
There will also be a substantial requirement for working capital to cover ongoing costs such as rent, council tax, utilities, employees’ wages, advertising and marketing spend, and your own personal expenses.
By investing in a low-cost franchise, you have the opportunity to minimise your exposure to financial risk while using the business-in-a-box format to start and build your own profitable franchise from a sound and well-proven base.
By working from home, you eradicate most of the requirements for significant levels of working capital while utilising low-cost marketing techniques such as leaflet distribution and word of mouth advertising to grow your customer base. Consequently, your turnover and profit targets will be significantly lower.
Low-cost, however, does not mean that you will not be able to expand your empire once the start-up phase is complete. By taking on other areas, your relatively modest venture can grow and develop, using the same methodology as you used to kick-start your business when you first decided to become your own boss, and create the work/life balance so often missing as an employee.
Below are a few of the low-cost opportunities currently available. A search through the directory section of this website will reveal many more. By doing your homework and exercising due diligence you could soon find yourself achieving a lifestyle you might have previously thought unattainable.
Minimum investment: £9,950
This oven cleaning business opened its doors in 1994 and today has a nationwide network of successful franchisees.
Franchisees are equipped with everything they need to run the business, including induction training to ISO 9001:2008 standards; bespoke, eco-friendly products and consumables for your first three months of trading; a heated mobile cleaning process tank; branded workwear; a high visibility internet presence; and national marketing campaigns.
Rik Hellewell, Ovenu’s founder and managing director, says: “Working with us as an Ovenu franchisee gives you the opportunity to learn and benefit from nearly 25 years of valuable knowledge and experience - not just how to clean ovens.
“Our cloud-based operation manual contains an unrivalled amount of leading questions, plus all the hints and tips we’ve collected over the years.
“And as you’ve probably figured out, a huge amount of information about ‘all things business’ as well - all geared up and ready to provide the most comprehensive offering in the oven cleaning and valeting sector ever.”
Franchise fees: £5,995+VAT
BabyBallers is a multi-skilled academy where children don’t just come to learn how to play football.
Each class aims to provide children with the tools to learn colours, numbers, shapes and, of course, basic football skills. This can either be coached by yourself (training is provided) or a coach employed by you. BabyBallers can help with the search for coaching staff.
The company is looking for people who are enthusiastic and willing to help the brand grow, can build relationships with customers, have an understanding of the different types of sessions needed for each class and possess basic sports coaching experience, preferably with children.
BabyBallers franchisee Brandon Martin says: “I met with Rich at BabyBallers and he showed me what I could be expecting to turn over if done correctly.
“The process was simple and helpful. It’s fantastic to see all my happy BabyBallers enjoying the service week in and week out.”
3. Really Awesome Coffee
Minimum investment: £9,300
Franchisees for this mobile café business serve fresh gourmet coffee, hot drinks and food to people at businesses and events nationwide.
The company is a British Franchise Association member and currently has over 25 franchise partners in the UK.
Franchisees enjoy a healthy work-life balance working a Monday to Friday coffee round, which is built around their lifestyle, with weekend events bringing optional additional income.
All franchisees complete the company’s fast-track training and launch programme, which includes professional barista training. Really Awesome Coffee also helps identify your customers and assists in launching the business.
There is no need to have any experience in catering or running your own business, as training covers everything you need to be able to run a successful mobile coffee franchise.
4. Learn Play Grow
Minimum investment: £14,000
If you like working with children and are passionate about the importance of sport in their lives, Learn Play Grow might be for you.
Providing fun fitness and exercise activities for children, it was founded by the late professional tennis player Elena Baltacha-Severino and her husband and coach, Nino Severino.
Designed to be both fun and educational, it uses a combination of stories, music, pictures, characters and awards to inspire children to take part and develop important skills such as teamwork and sportsmanship.
Aimed at Early Years and primary school-aged children, it’s currently being run in pre-schools, nurseries and primary schools, as well as at children’s parties in sports and village halls. Children can also be enrolled for one-to-one sessions in their own homes.
The low start-up fee of £6,250 provides a high profile brand identity, protected territory and potentially high-profit margin, as well as ongoing support.
5. Payrolls Direct
Initial franchise fee: £5,995 (plus VAT)
Marketing your speciality? Payrolls Direct, which offers payroll and human resources services, could be your dream come true.
As a Payrolls Direct franchisee, your job is to promote the company’s services to business owners. Once you have clients on board, they pay you directly every month for the services Payrolls Direct provides and you hand over 25 per cent of the fee to head office.
Payrolls Direct deals with all client questions and needs, so once a customer is signed up, the business for you is very hands-off. Research also shows that once a business has taken on payroll services, it’s very unlikely to move elsewhere, so chances are you’ll keep clients long term.
As the potential for profit is high, you can choose which hours suit you to work and, if you wish, manage your business from home. Franchisees are given a full day’s training in how to set up and market their businesses, as well as ongoing support. Marketing materials are also supplied.
6. Nationwide Cleaners
Minimum investment: £7,999
Winner of the Best Cleaning Franchise category in the 2016 Business Excellence Awards, Nationwide Cleaners provides a domestic cleaning and ironing service.
As a franchisee, you work from home and manage your own workforce and clients. It’s unlikely you’ll ever do any cleaning yourself unless you choose to when you first start out.
Typical daily tasks include recruiting cleaners, talking to customers on the phone, resolving issues with existing clients and cleaners, marketing your services and processing payments.
Clients’ costs are kept low, as franchisees use customers’ cleaning products, which also means cleaners don’t have to lug their own cleaning kits around.
A ‘frills-free’ franchise model, all you need to get started is a computer, phone, printer, scanner and the 10,000 marketing leaflets included in the franchise fee. The fee also includes full initial and ongoing training, as well as ongoing support.
Minimum investment: £7,900
Swedish pet food delivery brand Husse (pronounced hoo-say!) is top dog. It operates in over 50 countries with around 1,000 franchisees worldwide and launched in the UK in 2012.
It’s rapidly expanded and currently has 80 franchisees working across 50 regions in Scotland and England.
The company’s branded feed for dogs and cats consists of super-premium and premium quality ingredients produced in factories under expert supervision and to excellent standards. It also offers accessories, health and hygiene products for cats, dogs and horses.
Customers order goods online or by telephone, which are then delivered free of charge at the customer’s convenience.
A year-round business opportunity, the fee includes training in nutrition and products, along with business strategy, marketing and sales. Ongoing support includes online marketing, access to an in-house graphic designer and vet and continuous training and mentoring.
8. Snak Appeal
Minimum investment: £2,000
Set up in 2008, Snak Appeal is an ethical business raising money for children’s charities in the UK.
The only set-up in this field to be a member of the British Franchise Association, there is no franchisee fee - instead, you pay for stock and display boxes only.
Assigned an exclusive local area to work in, there is the potential to earn a gross income of at least £30,000 and the children you support are local.
You build your business by distributing boxes of snacks and sweets, along with an introductory letter from the charity, to any location where there are people working or members of the public.
Unlike cold calling, you’re offering a free service with no obligation, so placing boxes isn’t difficult - and the charity appeal means you can expect an over 60 per cent success rate.
Once the boxes are in position, you just need to call back every week or so to collect the money and replenish the stock. As stock runs down, you’ll reinvest a proportion of your profits to buy more.
To start, you’ll need a computer and printer, a reliable car, storage for stock (which could be a spare room or garage), internet banking facilities and your initial investment. In return, Snak Appeal provides full training and ongoing support.