Franchise FAQ

Q. DO I NEED PREVIOUS EXPERIENCE IN BUSINESS TO BUY A FRANCHISE?

Answered by Sandra Venables, Managing Director of Well Polished

SANDRA SAYS: You do not require any previous experience in business to buy a franchise, as one of the main benefits of buying a franchise is having full support from your franchisor. A reputable franchisor should take you through all the different stages in running your own business. This will include full training on how the business model works, how to register for self employment, recruit staff and market your business.

You will also be required, to undertake a comprehensive training course which is invaluable to anyone starting out in business. As part of this course you will be taught all the different skills required to run your own business. Franchising is one of the best routes for those who have never been in business before, because you are buying into a proven business concept. It's a fantastic way to be in business for yourself but not by yourself, because as well as the initial training at the start of your business you will also have ongoing support on a day-to-day basis. On a final point, I would also recommend that you speak to existing franchise owners before you finally commit to a franchise, to ensure that the franchisor provides the support they have been promised.

Q. WHAT CHECKS WILL A FRANCHISOR CONDUCT INTO A FRANCHISE OWNER'S BACKGROUND?

Answered by Graham Dennis, Eurodebt

GRAHAM SAYS: Background checks on potential franchise owners vary and depend on the nature of the franchisor's business. Health Care franchises or those that work with children require a CRB check to confirm there is no previous criminal history. These checks will also be made in an employed position where any client vulnerability issues arise.

Franchisors in the financial sector will be looking at the potential franchise owner's credit record more closely, this can prohibit the franchise owner obtaining any of the mandatory licences required to trade.

All franchisors check the financial background of their prospective franchise owners - this is because a significant investment is required to launch and maintain the franchise until the profit forecasts are achieved.

Many franchisors rely on frank and honest discussions from both sides. If a franchisor finds out that a potential franchise owner has a criminal record or financial problems it will most definitely terminate the application. Overall my advice would be for all potential franchise owners to be open and honest at the meeting.

Q. WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF BECOMING A FRANCHISE OWNER OVER A STANDALONE BUSINESS OWNER - ESPECIALLY IN THIS TIME OF ECONOMIC UNCERTAINTY?

Answered by Godfrey Lancashire, Managing Director of London House

GODFREY SAYS: Starting a new business is always risky - many fail - but for those who succeed the prizes: money, freedom and a sense of achievement; are enormously rewarding, especially when you do not have a boss or office politics to contend with. So, the real question is how to mitigate that risk.

It is a good idea to learn from others in the same field - learn from their mistakes so you don't make the same ones yourself and learn from their successes so you know what works well. Ask practical questions about the operation of the business, about the finances and the margins. Be really inquisitive and understand the marketplace, competition, what sells best and how to market it - wouldn't it be great if you could do all that at a limited cost?

Investing in an established, reputable franchise is one way you can do this and with 90 per cent of UK franchises trading profitably according to the bfa/Natwest Franchise Survey 2009, it is certainly a lower risk way to become your own boss.