Thinking of joining the world of franchising?

For those keen to know more about the franchising industry, Pip Wilkins, the chief executive of the British Franchise Association, provides a nuts' and bolts' assessment.

Thinking of joining the world of franchising?

There’s so much more to franchising than fast food outlets and car dealerships. The world of franchising stretches into many different sectors, such as health care, fitness, accountancy, children’s activities, performing arts, motoring, house cleaning, education, and even looking after clients’ pets – and that’s just to name a few.

Whichever of these takes your fancy, the franchising industry provides a fabulous opportunity for anyone wishing to enter the world of business. As I’ve listed already, franchising covers a wide variety of sectors.

And, what’s more, those who want to join this fast expanding area of the business community do not need to possess a vast amount of knowledge in their chosen sector. Most important of all is ambition, work ethic and commitment. The key for all of those wishing to sign up is to check out the different types of franchises that are available, and to meet the people in charge – the franchisors.

Franchisors will have devoted time to stress testing and refining their businesses, so all costly mistakes should have already been made. From this point on, new owners should be in a position to feel confident that if they follow the business model developed by the franchisor, they will maximise their chances of success. And the stats show that franchise businesses perform much better than independent start-ups – by quite some margin. 

Equally, for those wishing to become a franchisor should focus on creating a tried and tested system for replicating their original business. Developing a network from scratch takes time and is for business owners who identify franchising as a secondary mechanism for growth.

The recruitment process for any network is usually a rigorous one. Both franchisor and franchisee need to be certain that they are making the right decision. While the prospective franchisee will be investing a sizeable amount of time and money into their new venture, the franchisor will be seeking to appoint a reputable, committed new business partner to take charge of the vacant territory.

One ‘bad’ recruit could damage brand image enormously. This means it is in both parties’ interest to hold a number of meetings and fact-finding sessions, before the training of new franchisees can even begin. It is not unknown for some franchisors to carry out psychometric testing on new applicants.

Top class training and support is an important aspect of preparing a new franchisee for the business world. Many are joining a business in which their experience and knowledge is limited. But that’s not a problem. As long as their attitude and commitment is good, the majority of franchise processes can be learned through a rigorous training programme.

We, at the British Franchise Association (BFA), would strongly recommend that potential franchisees undertake thorough research into training and support programmes before signing any business agreement. Usually, training costs are part of the overall initial fee. But please bear in mind that investment costs between brands and sectors vary enormously.

Never leave any stone unturned when researching the franchising industry. And don’t be afraid to ask franchisors difficult and testing questions. In fact, they would be shocked and disappointed if a potential franchisee didn’t. They are unlikely to accept a new business partner who appeared to be blasé or half-hearted about the venture.

Ask about support, ongoing assistance, marketing help and investment costs. Ask if they have had many failures and why. Ask about customer or client feedback, and if there is any related data to assist you in your research. Good, honest communication is the key to the entire process.

One of the benefits of franchising is that potential franchisees have the opportunity to meet established members of the network. Most network members are happy to discuss matters relating to the business, brand and the world of franchising. And those who eventually join will be invited to attend regular meetings with network members throughout their business journey.

This is another reason why franchising is typically a safer option than setting up a new business from scratch, with few experienced people to consult. For more information on training and support, and the franchising world in general, please click here. You can either access the information online, or speak to someone face-to-face.

Pip Wilkins
Pip Wilkins