Nigel Toplis is very sceptical when dealing with experts in the business of advising how to run a business when by and large they’ve never run a traditional company or a franchise. Still he admits it can be necessary sometimes
However you feel about external advice, when it comes to deciding about investing in the franchise of your choice it’s time to call in the professionals – yes, the accountants, the solicitors and possibly the banks. Despite my in-built sangfroid it’s absolutely essential to take professional advice if only for two basic reasons.
Firstly, there will be a legal franchise agreement to sign and you need to understand exactly what obligations you’re taking on. Furthermore, you‘ll need an experienced franchise lawyer to advise you. Under no circumstances should you use a lawyer with little experience of franchising. We all have a mate who has a friend who did their divorce or house conveyancing – don’t use them. The franchise agreement is a specialist document, so you need someone with experience in that field to advise you.
Secondly, you’ll be investing a considerable amount of money into the franchise so you should involve an accountant. It’s always good to have an extra pair of eyes – particularly a sceptical pair – to look over your business plan and ensure your projections are reasonable, all costs are included and you've been realistic about your income generation.
It’s also important from the franchisor’s point of view that you take advice as it shows them you’re serious. Indeed, successful and highly motivated franchisees enhance the franchisor and its brand.
Your support team of professional advisors will help you understand the small print, access investment opportunities and evaluate your business plans but you need to find out how much they charge and what you get for your money. But remember advisors are only as good as your brief and at the end of the day the decisions must be yours. Along with professional advisors don’t forget your family – they can often be a great source of advice and offer an insight about yourself that external advisors simply can’t match.
Take a step back and review all the information gathered about the franchise and yourself to go through a mental checklist. Are you up to running this business? Can you afford it? Will you be able to take the pressure? Are you confident in the franchisor? Will you and your family enjoy the challenge? Do you want it?
Finally, the key to making the right decision over a business investment is not rush it.
Don’t get lured into making ill-considered decisions and beware the pushy franchisor who denies you the time to do your research and properly consult independent experts.