How to find your ideal franchise

We take a look at the first integral step into franchising – research. Research is key when choosing the franchise for you. Jenna Leeds investigates

Here at The Franchise Magazine we want to give all of our readers the best possible advice and information when going into franchising. For those with a basic level of interest looking to start a franchise, we have launched our ‘How to’ section to guide you through each step of starting a franchise.

If you’re thinking about starting your own business or owning a successful franchise, it is vital that you choose the right fit for you. Naturally, you may well be excited at the prospect of owning your own business and making a fresh start but investigating the industry and brand before signing up will certainly pay off for the future. However easy it may be to follow your heart, always let your head make the final choice.

When making decisions about your work/life balance, franchising can seem very appealing on one level. However, when making these decisions, what’s your initial response to work, family and home worries? You’ll find you’ll be answering those questions as the employee but now ask yourself those questions as a business owner and you’ll see your perspective changes.

Begin looking at your own career history, your hobbies, training, qualifications and where you see yourself in your ideal career to find out what areas drive you most. The franchise you choose should always most importantly meet your needs first as its those going forward that will give you the enthusiasm to make your business a success.

You can research the franchise industry and its opportunities by reading relevant publications, scouring the internet and attending franchise exhibitions.

However, recognising your skillset before doing this will give your mind focus and clarity to what you’re looking for. Ask yourself the questions below and note down a profile of yourself. Franchises put together ideal franchise owner profiles that you can compare with your own.

What does owning a franchise mean to you?

This can help understand your priorities; do you have the desire to change your life for the better? The ability to make money fast? Does a new start for you mean improved flexibility in your life?

What do you find most appealing about owning a franchise?

Is it working for a well-recognised brand? The safety of the franchisor offering regular support and training? Lower start up cost?

What do you find least appealing about owning a franchise?

Always consider the cons of going into franchising. You may find it difficult working for yourself and become lonely, check that your family and loved ones are willing to support you. You may have to work long hours and therefore may sacrifice your lifestyle.

How do you like to be managed?

This is an extremely valuable question as it identifies how you would like to work alongside the franchisor. Although you will own the franchise, you will still abide by the franchisors way of training and start up of the new business. Do you like facts, figures and numbers and being able to analyse a decision before taking the leap or are you more of the person that once they know what they’re looking for, the decision is made. You will have to recognise the persona of the franchisor and perhaps comprise and adapt to their way of working.

Do you have excellent customer service skills?

Customer service is paramount in almost every franchising sector. Your clients and building relationships with them is what is going to make or break your business. You will need to understand your market and your typical customer to understand what they are looking for and to ensure your business can meet their needs and demand.

Once you have assessed your own personality, consider the sector. Again it’s all about the right questions and lots of them.

The number of sectors available in the franchising industry can be extremely overwhelming, however there are key sectors that are currently at their largest, one being the cleaning and maintenance sector. This is looking likely to increase dramatically over the next five years and sees endless amounts of opportunity from job to management roles in both the commercial and residential markets.

Even with the growing economic downturn the retail sector continues to grow, it is extremely rewarding and has an almost unbeatable return on investment compared to other markets.

One of the most popular and well-known for its franchise opportunities is the food and drink market, which has some of the biggest brands in the world. Most are successful because they are well recognised brands but are also flexible in terms of location and, with so many levels of involvement, it can be an easy start up.

Business to business franchisors sees more and more employees taking their transferable skills and experiences into franchising. With low set up costs, often recession-proof because of the services found in B2B are business functions that every business must undertake, it makes a very appealing sector to develop in.

Determine the future success of the market and whether demand in this sector can be sustained. Meet with other franchise owners and ask them, “If they knew what they know now, would they still have joined the franchise?” Take into account their competitors and if other franchise sectors have products or services that could make inroads into this one.

A good franchise should have a proven business history, documented systems, effective training, an on-going support structure and often will be a member of the franchise governing body, the British Franchise Association (bfa), which ensures its members follow its stringent Code of Ethics.

The franchise may well be certified and successful but ask yourself, is this sector suited to your area. Looking around at your local shopping areas and in the community is there space for another business of this type or has someone missed out on an opportunity that you could bring to town?

Once you have shortlisted a number of franchise companies that have most caught your eye, you should now compare these and analyse each opportunity from the franchisor in detail.

In becoming the ambassador for a brand always check for bad press and ensure the company is reputable and are known for good service. However do always take into account that even large and very successful franchises receive bad press and it should not discourage you. The most important point is how the franchise improved/rectified the situation.

Often there is no typical franchise owner for each particular sector, even if you don’t have the relevant background to the sector you’re most interested in as long as you have the enthusiasm, passion, determination and vision to succeed, a franchisor will want to talk to you.

Once you have discovered the opportunities that are suited to your skill set, budget and work preference you can then look into how much funding you can secure to obtain your dream franchise