A franchise can be the ideal investment for a driven individual, whatever theirage. Rik Hellewell, managing director of Ovenu, offers some tips for the top
If you’re contemplating your future, recently finished college or graduated from university, age should not be a barrier to anyone wishing to start their own business - through franchising or from scratch.
Franchising, though, offers a strong and established brand and business model for people looking to embark on self-employment and can be the ideal investment for a driven individual, whatever their age.
Research the market
In the first instance, any new entrepreneur or business owner should do their homework and research the franchise market before coming to a conclusion about what is the right fit for them. It has to be a calculated decision and is one not to be rushed.
Read as much marketing material as possible about your prospective franchise opportunity or telephone the principal at the company - the franchisor - who will be on hand to answer your enquiries. It’s also worth speaking to other franchisees and learning about their experiences.
If at this stage the franchise seems like the right one for you, arrange a face-to-face meeting with the franchisor, as having the right chemistry is essential to the franchisor-franchisee relationship.
Listen and learn
Even the most experienced business owners and managers are learning on the job - whether this is keeping up to date with the latest trends in their marketplace or taking on board new marketing techniques.
However, from the outset a franchisee must be prepared to listen to the advice of the franchisor, which possesses extensive industry experience and has turned its initial business idea into a viable, replicable opportunity.
Prior to launching your franchise, you’ll be expected to complete a comprehensive training programme. Be wary of any franchise opportunity that provides minimal training. It’s vital to take it all in and ensure you are aptly prepared for what self-employment entails.
Ask as many questions as possible and absorb the invaluable advice from the seasoned professionals.
A solid and sound business plan is essential, which should incorporate short and long-term aims, key financial information and targets. The beauty of going into business with a franchise is that the majority of this information will be readily available.
Know your customer
While a franchisor will have selected locations in which its franchises are available, having done its own research and concluded that there’s a gap in the market, budding franchisees must have a good understanding of the geographical area in which they work.
Without customers, there isn’t a business, so it’s essential that you are able to build a rapport with your customer base and consistently deliver a high level of service. Engage with the community and listen to your customers’ needs. Confidence and excellent communication skills are essential.
Implementing an effective marketing strategy should be one of your highest priorities when launching your franchise. Whether this is advertising in your locality’s media outlets, establishing a social media presence or attending networking opportunities, all should be considered, particularly digital techniques, as more and more people are shifting to online and using social media.
Relevant content should be distributed and posted on a regular basis to keep your business in the thoughts of your consumers, which will help to increase your presence and engage with your clientele.
Bear in mind that, as part of a franchise, there will already be a centralised marketing plan in place, but it’s still up to the franchisee to do their bit and use various marketing techniques to target customers. Operating a consumer friendly social media account, such as Facebook or Twitter, or distributing promotional materials specific to your geographical area are a must.
Keep ahead of the competition
You need to stay on top of your game and ahead of the chasing pack, so you must get to grips with the competition in your region, which is crucial to the success of your business.
Understand how they operate and what marketing strategies they are using, so you can adjust and make your franchise stand out. It can be a daunting prospect starting out in business, particularly for a younger person who is new to it all, but that is what a franchise’s support network is there for - to offer advice and guidance.
The franchisor will be able to assist as best it can and will be familiar with the competition, so will already have tailored its strategies to offer a different approach. Again, customer service is vital to any business, so stay true to your values and go the extra mile for your clients. You don’t need a degree, qualification or previous experience in that regard.
Take advantage of your franchise’s support network. Your fellow franchisees have all travelled the same journey as you and will have their own techniques and experiences to pass onto younger franchisees and new starters.
It’s to be expected that those starting out in the 18-30 age bracket may be unfamiliar with a number of technical terms or bookkeeping, for example, but this is all part and parcel of the process and is taught during your initial training and independently as you develop your career.
While young people may lack life experience, franchising can be a viable option for those considering going into business, as it provides ongoing advice and support from a dedicated franchise network. Enthusiasm, a drive to succeed and the ability to learn can go a long way to creating a successful enterprise.