Stephen Watson, managing director of Agency Express, highlights the importance of choosing the right franchise and the benefits of a van-based business
For most people, the prospect of launching their own business is daunting, which is understandable because with any new venture comes a level of uncertainty and risk.
The one aspect of business even the most meticulous entrepreneur cannot guarantee is the security of achieving success and a sustainable income during the early trading period. This is one of the many reasons why more people are now looking to the UK’s wide selection of franchises for sound and credible business opportunities.
Once you’ve made the decision to take the route of franchising, the process of researching and selecting the right franchise model for you is crucial. The first questions you need to need ask yourself are ‘what do I want to achieve?’ and ‘how much can I invest?’.
There are many different franchises available and selecting the right opportunity is vital to your success. Firstly, think about what you require from a business and what type of industry would suit you. For example, someone looking for flexibility and low running costs may choose a van-based operation over a premises-based business.
The franchise world is teeming with excellent sources of information - from exhibitions to seminars - but your first port of call when beginning your research should be the British Franchise Association. bfa members are committed to delivering franchise excellence and comply with a franchising code of ethics. A reputable franchise will not only tick all the bfa boxes, it will also provide you with a clear and proven business framework, extensive training, daily support and the ongoing guidance you will need to build your business.
A franchise with successful franchisees and a strong trading history will also openly encourage you to do as much research on the model as possible; it will encourage you to speak to its existing franchisees and even its competitors. Due diligence will ultimately safeguard your investment and provide you with the extra assurance needed throughout the early days of your new business. Franchise costs vary depending on the industry and specific business model. For example, a van-based franchise such as Agency Express costs £21,500, whereas premises-based franchises may cost in excess of £200,000.
When calculating your budget, don’t overstretch yourself and it’s important to think beyond the initial investment you’d be making. Look carefully at both the initial and ongoing costs of the franchise and make sure you have the resources to fund your start-up period without relying on a consistent income. This way you will be prepared for all eventualities.
For many people, one of the greatest difficulties in starting a new business is applying for finance. If you are considering further finance, look towards the banks that specialise in franchising, as they understand there is less risk associated to lending funds to those who have chosen to invest in a franchise with a proven track record.
If your investment budget is in the range of £10,000-£25,000, a van-based franchise may be the right opportunity and comes with many advantages.
Van-based franchise models are simple to operate and have a huge earning potential. As a van-based franchisee, you’ll immediately benefit from low overheads and low running costs, as the need for premises and the costs this entails have been removed. This means a higher profit margin can be achieved from the outset of the business. A van-based franchise also gives you the freedom to choose how you want to grow your business. A single van-based franchise is owner operated and successfully functions in this manner. However, over time as demand for your business grows and turnover increases, additional vehicles and staffing could then be added to your territory to meet these requirements.
Some franchisees may feel a single van operation is sufficient, whereas others may seize the opportunity to expand their business. For larger investors looking at management franchises, multi-vehicle opportunities are available, but most van-based franchises are designed to be suitable for individuals.
Van franchises are also one of the few models that benefit from on-the-go marketing. Your professionally liveried vehicle will advertise your services and ultimately magnify your local presence. They’re carefully designed to promote and generate business, so as you travel to clients and go about your daily routine your van will be your primary marketing tool.
Among the most attractive benefits of owning a van-based franchise is that it can come with an element of freedom and flexibility, as mobile businesses can allow for family friendly and flexible working hours. However, it is important to remember that most service providers operate within normal business hours and lines of communication should remain open within these times.
Finally, when deciding to become a franchisee, it’s vital to remember that a franchise is an opportunity to build and grow your own business and take control of your future. However, while good franchises have proven business formulas, success does not come overnight. Although franchise models have much higher success rates than individual business start-ups, owning a franchise requires commitment and drive in order to reap the long-term benefits.