Franchising: Where to Start?

After working for others for the duration of your career and achieving your personal goals, often the next step is to become your own boss and build your own business

Franchising: Where to Start?

After working for others for the duration of your career and achieving your personal goals, often the next step is to become your own boss and build your own business, where you can reap the benefits of your own hard work and create a legacy to be proud of. 

Starting your own business can be a scintillating prospect, however also filled with risk and economic uncertainty and that’s where franchising often comes into its own. Whilst by no means is it risk free, it’s a risk averse option and also brings a multitude of benefits vs going it alone. So, the question is, why franchise and what are the benefits?

To begin with, whilst becoming your own boss and having the autonomy to run your own business, you’re also buying into an established and reputable brand with an abundance of support and a tried and tested business model, so you’re off to a good start. Along with a Franchise Support Centre offering expert industry knowledge, you’ll also benefit from an entire network who have been living and breathing the business, offering you a wealth of advice and industry experience and have often made some of the early mistakes for you. 

Whilst a lot of franchise industries are saturated, there’s often a good reason for this. They’re popular sectors, they’re competitive marketplaces and people simply want choice. With this in mind, it’s really important to choose an industry that still has potential to grow, that has longevity, a forward-thinking platform, is essential to businesses across all scales and isn’t likely to have an expiry date. 

The signage industry for instance is one of the earliest forms of advertising, it’s a growing sector, there are a multitude of specialities and disciplines within in it, it’s creative, it’s innovative and quite simply everyone needs signage. Whilst it’s not a trade that often springs to mind, everywhere you look, signage is around you. Whether you’re wayfinding your way around an educational or business setting, going shopping, working on a construction site, visiting an exhibition or simply going out for a meal, you’ll have encountered thousands of signs and graphics just getting there, without even realising. 

Before however, you even start making enquiries and start quizzing franchisors (which you should absolutely do), there’s an abundance of questions to ask yourself, starting with, what do I want?

It may sound basic, but having a clear picture in mind, establishing your needs and getting your stake in the ground early on can help you make your choices and save you a lot of time in the long run. It’s important to establish:

  • What do I want from a career? Is it job satisfaction, personal growth or a challenge, do you want to learn new skills, do you want to create a legacy for your family, is work life balance a key factor, or bluntly, is money your driver? 
  • Have a think about the industry you want to enter. Are you creative, are you practical, do you like to problem solve, do you like routine or do you crave variety in a career? Do you want to offer services or is it important to create a tangible product? 
  • One of the first questions we ask a potential franchisee is what return do you need, what do you need to maintain the lifestyle you’re accustomed to and what does a good return look like to you? 
  • Think about your investment levels, what can you afford to invest vs what do you want to invest and how quickly do you want to see a ROI?
  • It may sound odd to think about your exit strategy at the outset, but it’s also important to think about your timescales, so that at the point of exit, you’re in the best possible position to realise the value of your business.
  • Where you want to be geographically is also essential, some people are happy to commute, others want to be close to home, either way, make sure you’re happy with your decision. 

Once you’re comfortable with your decisions, it’s good to go into this process with a clear list of what to expect from yourself and also from a franchisor. For example:

  • Do your research, lots and lots of research.
  • Once you have found the industry you’re interested in, shop around, speak to competitors (all franchisors will expect you to have done so).
  • The franchisor will be assessing you, just as much as you’re assessing them!
  • Don’t be offended if asked to demonstrate your investment level.
  • Ask about future expansion from the beginning – don’t leave this until you’re part way through your franchise agreement.
  • Do you like the franchisor and the team? Rapport is really important.
  • Do your due diligence (a good franchisor should actively encourage you to do this).
  • Ask LOTS of questions, now, not later.
  • Think about cash flow and industry seasonality, not just your initial investment level.
  • Be prepared for the business to take a dip in the first three months (if taking on an established resale business), this is normal.
  • Utilise the franchisors network, meet other franchisees and ask questions.
  • Expect your franchisor to be transparent and open with you, any ethical franchise should be open throughout.
  • Take full advantage of everything the franchisor has to offer, it’s there for you and you’re paying for it!

Lastly, expect it to be hard work. Amazingly rewarding, exciting, thought-provoking, innovative, creative, but also a lot of hard work. Whilst you’re entering an established industry and business model, you are the key driver of your business. The franchisor is there to help, facilitate, support and offer guidance throughout, but you are the owner of your business! Now’s the time to go out there and do it and build something to be proud of.

This article comes courtesy of Signs Express. Click here to visit our website for more information and you can schedule an introductory call.

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