Guidance: 11 essential tips for franchise buyers

The new Chairman of the British Franchise Association is Nigel Toplis. Here, he offers his tips for The Franchise Magazine readers seeking franchise success

To my mind franchising, when it works well, is the single most effective means of distributing products and services in business today. With franchising you get the marriage of two interdependent parties with complementary skills working together to bring business growth, commercial development and security of employment.

The franchisee brings a set of personal skills plus drive, ambition and a desire to run his or her own business. The franchisor contributes a proven business system, marketing, training and sales skills, collateral and processes, a marketable brand and continuous and ongoing business support.

Franchising in the UK, though still lagging behind the US in terms of retail sales penetration, is well established and well thought of - with many high street and service brands franchised. The British Franchise Association (bfa) itself has an enviable reputation on the world franchising stage and we will continue to invest time, money, resources and intellect in developing ethical franchising in the UK.

The near future is an exciting time for franchising in the UK and I see more interest from academia, from the government and from regional development enterprise agencies and in the promotion of franchising as a means to galvanise British industry and Britons' desires to run their own businesses. There is already a wealth of choice for potential franchisees in terms of industry sectors and I predict that this choice will get wider as more franchisors enter the arena.

However, more choice does in itself bring challenges - challenges for the bfa to ensure that all its members and new member applicants trade ethically and with the objective of helping franchisees achieve their agreed business goals embedded in the structure of the franchise. For potential franchisees there is the challenge of selecting the right franchise opportunity, and to this end I would give the following advice:

Good franchisors will help you through all the stages and will insist you speak to their franchisees so you can understand the business from the grass roots.

I am very confident about the future of franchising in the UK and the bfa undertakes to work hard on behalf of both franchisors and franchisees to encourage growth in systems, in business and in franchising in general.