Q. HOW IMPORTANT IS THE STRENGTH OF THE FRANCHISOR'S BRAND TO THE FRANCHISE OWNER'S BUSINESS?
Answered by Andy Knights, Head of Business Development for LighterLife
ANDY SAYS: A strong, well-established and well differentiated franchisor brand not only gives the franchise owner confidence in the product or service they're selling, but also provides a solid platform from which to market their own business.
LighterLife invests significantly in national marketing to raise awareness of the brand nationally and to communicate its benefits and values. This in turn generates demand and assists franchise owners to build a client base and get up and running as quickly as possible.
Client retention is equally important for franchise owners. If clients feel they have bought into a quality brand that is continuously evolving in line with their needs, they are more likely to remain loyal customers.
Q. WHAT CHECKS WILL FRANCHISORS CONDUCT INTO A POTENTIAL FRANCHISE OWNER'S BACKGROUND?
Answered by Ken Dennis, Franchise Sales Director of ServiceMaster
KEN SAYS: This may vary according to the type of franchise, but basically speaking a franchisor will research a potential franchise owner in much the same way that a company would with a prospective employee. Once they have established that an individual is a suitable franchise owner in terms of their capability, a franchisor will generally carry out two main checks.
Firstly financial checks will be carried out to make sure that there are no unmanageable debts or County Court Judgements, which may impact on any new business start up. Secondly Criminal Records Bureau checks may be carried out, this will be particularly relevant if the franchise involves working with children or vulnerable members of society or if you are required to work within commercial premises. In addition companies will usually issue requests for references from a previous employer and also from somebody who knows the candidate personally.
Q. HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE LONG-TERM RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN A FRANCHISOR AND A FRANCHISE OWNER?
Answered by Danny Hanlon, Chief Operating Officer of Granite Transformations
DANNY SAYS: The long term relationship between franchise owner and franchisor is one of reciprocal benefit. In my opinion a franchisor should always attempt to maintain a positive relationship with their franchise owners and vice versa.
Most importantly franchisors should involve franchise owners in their strategic decision making. The most useful vehicle for multiparty participation is a Franchise Advisory Council. These meetings take place on a quarterly basis and the members consult their constituents in order to compile an agenda ahead of the meeting. Agenda items are addressed openly and honestly, implementation schedules and dates are agreed upon and the minutes of the meeting are distributed to all franchise owners. Franchise owners are at the 'coalface' and therefore deserve a voice.
Q. WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF BECOMING A FRANCHISE OWNER OVER A STANDALONE BUSINESS OWNER, ESPECIALLY IN THIS TIME OF ECONOMIC UNCERTAINTY?
Answered by Mark Witter, Commercial Director, Venture Portraits
MARK SAYS: While there are never any guarantees of success in a new business venture, individuals can certainly shorten the odds by considering an established concept rather than going it alone. Franchising can best be described as running your own business but not on your own - a good franchise model allows both parties to focus on their part of the deal so it's in effect a divide and conquer principle. By doing this, the franchise owner can devote all of their time to the delivery of the concept and the successful running of their business, while the franchisor provides the necessary support, develops the concept, effectively markets the brand and in some cases, provides the finished product to the franchise owner.
The combination of a proven, established concept with the additional support network of a franchise relationship stands franchising in very good stead at any time, but even more so when the prevailing economic climate is putting pressure on every small business.