Sifting through the hype

In a world dominated by marketing, advertising and PR, finding an unbiased perspective on a business can be a formidable challenge. With over 700 franchisors currently operating in the UK, how does a prospective franchisee learn to read between the lines and find the right franchise opportunity? Olivia Keen, Franchise Marketing Manager at BFA award winning franchise Swisher, offers three golden rules to follow when sifting through the hype

Rule 1: Be Objective

This should become your mantra when choosing a franchise. There is no denying that once you are running a business, being passionate about it is a major factor in ensuring its success. But while you are choosing a business, being emotionally driven is a luxury you cannot afford and one that can cost you dearly.

Remember the old adage: all that glitters is not gold! Just because something appears to be fabulous on paper does not guarantee that it is fabulous in reality. Once you become emotionally attached to a franchise, it is all too easy to ignore its negative factors and neglect carrying out the essential due diligence research.

At Swisher, being in washroom hygiene, we probably offer the most unglamorous of all franchise concepts currently available in the UK. Yet our franchisees continue to choose Swisher because they realise that they can build a high revenue business, with high net profits and achieve substantial capital gain upon re-sale. If you speak to anyone who is successful in business, they will tell you that the actual concept or service provided is irrelevant.

The only important factors are:
• Can I make money?
• Will I make money?
• Will it provide me with the rewards I am seeking?

Rule 2: Research, Research, Research

Buying a business is a major personal and financial commitment that affects both you and your family's future. Yet an alarming number of people underestimate, or even disregard, the extensive and essential research required when buying a franchise. We are fortunate in the UK to have the British Franchise Association (BFA) which helps regulate and promote ethical franchising. Accordingly, there are certain standards of practice that you should expect from a franchisor. If they do not or cannot adhere to these standards, then look elsewhere.

The type of questions you should be asking a franchisor are:
• Are they a member of the BFA? If not, why not?
• Which level of BFA membership have they attained (Provisional, Associate or Full Membership?)
• What initial & ONGOING training and support do they offer?
• What successes are their franchisees currently achieving?
• What is their failure rate?
• How long has the network been operating?
• Can I meet with an existing franchisee?
• What is the full investment I require?

You should never be made to feel a nuisance for asking these questions. In fact, any good franchisor would be delighted to answer them and encourage you to investigate further. Remember: ignorance leads to failure, so make sure that you know every aspect (both good and bad!) of the business that you are about to invest in.

Rule 3: Love and Marriage

Franchising is all about relationships. As a franchisee you are metaphorically 'married' to your franchisor. We all know that there are three vital ingredients that make up a successful marriage - love, trust and respect. A franchising marriage is no different. The recruitment process should be a mutual decision between franchisee and franchisor.

At Swisher, we award rather than sell territories. We select our franchisees very carefully in order to make sure that both they and we are making the right decision. After all, they are joining our network and we only want people who will fit in and enhance the Swisher family.

So, make sure that you like and trust your franchisor. If you do not get on from day one it will only get worse once you are married and unhappy marriages always lead to divorce!