Of all the platitudes bandied around to reassure franchise owners that they’ll be given continued guidance and support, “help is always on hand” is arguably one of the most empty promises. Yet support is one of the key reasons many decide to invest in a franchise rather than starting their own business from scratch. So exactly what sort of help can and should a prospective franchise owner expect to receive from their franchisor? There are five key areas where support is vital.
First and foremost, it’s the franchisor’s duty to ensure that any potential franchisee is making a sound and informed choice. Strong financial projections and forecasts are all very well but if you join a mobile franchise when you actually want to remain relatively office-bound or end up choosing an industry you have no interest in, your venture is hampered from the start. An honest appraisal of whether you’re right for the brand – taking things like age, health, location and available finance into consideration – should be one of the franchisor’s first responsibilities.
Raising funds for your venture can be a daunting hurdle to overcome but a good franchisor will be able to walk you through the process, potentially having strong links and a good track record of securing finance with banks. Despite this, it’s important that the application and business plan are unique to you and are not just a standard document that’s been produced by the franchisor.
It should go without saying that a comprehensive training and ongoing support programme is essential in order to help the franchise get off to a good start and grow the business. Also, while franchisees get on with running their business, it’s reassuring for them to know that the head-office team is driving forward new sales initiatives or focusing on marketing campaigns.
Having a designated head-office team member to liaise with directly is invaluable and is something every franchisee should look out for. Our own operations manager is known affectionately as ‘The Nanny’ by many of our franchisees: he is often their first port of call if they need help with day-to-day issues, outside the remit of the finance, marketing, IT or sales teams.
Finally, it’s worth exploring the willingness and effectiveness of a franchisor to help you find a successor and sell the business you’ve built up. We’ve done this on numerous occasions and recently helped one of our teams to sell their going concern for several hundred thousand pounds.
This is the kind of tangible evidence that you can find out from the moment you consider signing up with a franchise. If your franchisor provides support in these five areas, you know you’ll be in good hands.