You must believe in what you are doing

FDS North Director, Tony Urwin, has a rich background in the UK business world. Here, he explains to Gareth Samuel how investors should take a methodical and calculated approach at every opportunity to get maximum fulfilment out of their new career.

Tony believes strongly in the future of the franchising industry in the UK, but is realistic in his predictions about its development over the next two decades. He says: “I do not think the franchising industry itself will change substantially in the near future. The main change today is the decline of the cowboy operator, as people are becoming wiser and more discerning in their choice of opportunity.” The Internet has given prospective owners more scope for investment and a greater level of information about different opportunities. But before making any investment, Tony is insistent that investors have to make sure that it is the right choice for them.

“You always have to be cautious, when investing, that the potential is there for you to make money. It’s no good being gung-ho and charging into something. You have to ask yourself some important questions,” explains Tony. “Is your sector likely to be growing, coming out of the recession? Is it likely to be affected by changes in a particular area? Is it likely to be affected by changes in technology or regulations? – These are all factors that need to be considered.”

Any franchise investment, no matter how low the initial capital required may be, is a significant move. Tony, having seen new owners take both the cautious and erratic approach, is able to draw on the benefit of experience to outline the importance of research: “You must do your homework. You must look very carefully at what it is you are going to be doing and not make any moves until you are comfortable you have found a business opportunity you can work well in.”

But, according to Tony, this does not necessarily mean going into a specific sector that you have experience in. He adds: “A combination of aptitude and attitude are key to a good franchise owner. The important skills to have are those the franchise calls for to do the job. It may be a good idea to go into a field you are familiar with, but you must do something you enjoy.”

Franchising, as a concept, is not for everyone either, according to Tony, who has seen that the most successful franchise owners follow a business plan rigorously. He says: “What you have, with a franchise, is an opportunity to work very closely within a framework. If you want to set up your own idea, then you need to look closely at yourself and decide if you really want to be investing in a franchise.”

Above all, Tony’s advice is to ask the professionals to make sure the information provided by a franchisor is correct. He explains: “There is still a large constituency of companies out there that do not understand ethical franchising. I always recommend consulting advisors like franchise lawyers and accountants. Seek the advice of the people who know.”

FDS North has helped hundreds of businesses successfully expand through franchising and has seen what components are necessary for a flourishing business partnership. Tony concludes with one final piece of advice for interested franchise owners: “You are going to be there for a long time and can’t simply jump out of it like a job. If you are not going to enjoy what you are going to be doing – don’t do it.”