Manage your future with a white collar franchise

As increasing numbers of professionals with management experience seek new challenges or want to escape redundancy, white collar opportunities have become some of the most popular franchises

The economic downturn over the last few years has led to job losses in areas once regarded as relatively secure. Upper and middle management have been particularly hit hard – not only have they found themselves without work but the opportunities for new roles has shrunk.

Not surprisingly, more and more of these highly experienced professionals have turned to the security of franchising, with many white collar – or business to business – opportunities seemingly tailor-made for their skills.

White collar is the term given to employment roles, business opportunities or people who operate in a professional corporate environment. The term white collar arose from the image of a management professional with shirt, tie and jacket – well, perhaps not so many ties these days.

Transferable skills

If you have experience in business management roles – sales, marketing, finance, general or IT – you could transfer these skill sets into a white collar franchise opportunity. There are many exciting careers to follow including coaching, consultancy, executive search and recruitment, accountancy, financial advice, and web design. Rather than seeing the results of your hard work go to your employer, your expertise and ambition could enable you to obtain the rewards and run your own business.

The franchise format reduces the risk and gives you significant benefits over conventional self-employment. You will be buying into an established business, their reputation and experience. The NatWest/bfa Franchise Survey 2012 found that the proportion of franchise owners reporting profitability was 90 per cent. This compares with recent statistics of 80 per cent of standalone businesses failing in their first three years.

No doubt, you may pay more to launch your franchise than a normal start-up, but you will be receiving the trademarks and operating systems, initial training, materials, skills and ongoing support and advice. As a franchise develops, so it improves its training, support, systems and all other resources. You will also benefit from the collective efforts of the other franchise owners and the franchisor, who are continually investing in the brand’s success – an investment that is not available when launching your own business.

Franchising can give you a route to your own prosperity and satisfaction, but only if you choose the right franchise to partner with. ‘Partner’ is certainly the appropriate relationship – a successful franchise model requires both the franchisor and the franchise owner to work together, to create and expand a successful business concept. Remember to choose a franchise opportunity that suits your talents and your approach to life.

Greater control

As the NatWest/bfa Franchise Survey illustrated, you are more likely to achieve your objectives than with an independent start-up. This could mean a better work and lifestyle balance, greater control over how you spend your time and greater flexibility in the type of work that you do. Perhaps most importantly for some, being personally rewarded for your own hard work has more appeal than making good money for somebody else.

Many white collar franchises operate from home, so there is the benefit of not commuting and not having to invest in property or staff. Today, just a computer and broadband can provide the luxury of the basic necessities of running a business. Does it sound pretty good? Well, other than doing due diligence and speaking to their franchise owners, there are certain matters which you should also consider before making a change.

Let’s face it. You are a management professional of some years standing. You have excelled in your various posts. Most organisations have a management structure that includes sales and marketing, finance and accounting, legal, HR and various other departments, plus a fair number of colleagues. Suddenly from Day One, you may be working from home by yourself or perhaps, with family assistance.

From that day, you will be the Sales Director, the Marketing Director, the Finance Director and so on. How will you spend your time fruitfully to get business and deal with all the administrative challenges? Will it suit you to be by yourself in a small office without the company of your erstwhile colleagues?

Plan ahead

Unlike many other types of franchises, retail or food for example, most white collar franchises don’t receive cash over the counter. From finding a client and fulfilling their needs to rendering your invoice, some weeks may go by. You will need a fair bit of working capital to tide you over.

As mentioned above, franchises are a route to give you the success that you are seeking once you have found the right partner. These are some of the important elements to consider:

Prospects – Try to find a franchise that offers a service to a great variety of clients and can thrive in all economic conditions.

Territory – Some franchises will restrict you to a postcode or some other geographical boundary. It could be advantageous to select one that allows you to prospect throughout the UK, but weigh up the travelling against the potential in your area.

Marketing – If you come from a sales or marketing background that will be an asset. If not, ensure that initial and ongoing sales and marketing support, including help in obtaining clients and accompanied visits, are included in the training package.

Ongoing Training and Support – Check what is on offer and ask for confirmation from the franchise owners. While every franchise provides the initial training, some also supply continuing business and professional development. Has the franchise won acclaim for the support of their franchise owners?

The Franchise Package – As you are paying a fee for entry to the franchise, make sure you are happy with the contents of the package. You should be supplied with everything you need – and maybe a bit more – especially during the opening months.

Colleagues – If you will miss colleagues and a busy office environment, find a franchise with lots of like-minded professionals who can be easily contacted. Is there an intranet to exchange ideas and obtain guidance? Are there regular local, regional and national meetings?

Funding – Is the franchisor able to introduce you to a ‘friendly’ bank manager should finance be required?

Business Plan – Will the franchisor sit down with you and help put together a business plan?

British Franchise Association – Membership provides reassurance of the company’s commitment to ethical and professional franchising.

Of the many franchises that can offer these vital elements, one is cost management specialist Auditel, which was established in 1994. This year, Auditel was chosen as the Winner of the bfa HSBC Franchisor of the Year Award for Outstanding Franchisee Support, after selection as a Finalist last year. It was also selected as a Finalist in the Franchise Marketing Awards for Best Franchisee Marketing Support for the past three years.

Written by Norman Grossman
Norman Grossman is a publicity consultant and has been involved in franchising for over 35 years.