Franchising your business is a great way to expand your business without the requirements of upfront capital that company expansion would require. Franchising may appear to be the “golden ticket” to financial security, but if you and your business are not ready to enter into the business of franchising, then the seeming golden ticket may end up being a mirage. This post is meant to give an overview of things you want to think about before taking the giant step into the world of franchising. Remember, if your business is not ready for franchising, pushing it there might result in ultimate failure.
What is your Golden Egg? The reason the golden egg was worth such sacrifice and effort to obtain in the fairy tale of Jack and the Bean stock, was because it was unique. Everyone can obtain a regular egg, but the golden egg? that was unique and difficult to procure on one’s own. If you are considering taking your business to a franchise business, you need to have that “golden egg.” You need to know what would draw a potential franchisee to not only consider your franchise concept, but pay you to be a part of it. This does not mean that your concept has to be a one of a kind or extraordinary concept or service, but the way it is done, or the manner it is procured needs to be something that would compel someone to buy. Closely examine your business to find out what unique element, idea or service you can offer your franchisees.
Is your business a proven concept? Another way to ask this question is whether your business has worked out most of the kinks and if your business is “turnkey” ready. A startup concept is typically not ready for franchising because the concept has not been worked out and tested in the market. Even if you have just a couple of stores or units open and operating, if they are successful and the public is accepting of the business, then your business model may be ready for franchising. There is no hard and fast rule as to how many stores or units need to be in operation before you are ready to franchise, but
Is your business easy to learn? A successful franchise concept is going to be easy to learn. Some franchising guides will ask if your business is easily replicated. You may be worried that if your concept is easy then others will steal the idea and leave you behind. This is a risk with any business; but remind yourself of the first point above. A unique business does not have to be difficult to explain or replicate –it just has to be unique in some way. You want your franchisees to be able to understand the concept immediately and to feel comfortable that they can be successful. A business model that can be easily taught and duplicated for your franchisees is a key element in being ready to franchise.
What is being sold –you or your business? Take a step back and determine whether your business is successful because of your stellar salesmanship, or the location, or another extraneous factor, or is it successful because of the concept meaning it can be successful if run in most locations and by most people. Of course this is generalizing things, but the point is, the concept itself needs to be saleable. If you take the super star location away or the super star salesperson away, will your concept still work. If the answer is yes, then you are on the path to being ready to franchise.
Do you have the time to sell and teach your business? Franchising is a new business. You may have a successful business model for a store that you have been running, but franchising will take you away from that business and require you to focus on the new business of franchising. Some of the most successful franchises are those where the franchisor is committed to helping franchisees succeed and take the time to train. Most successful franchisors are dedicated to producing a symbiotic relationship with their franchisees.
Do you have sufficient capital? While franchising requires less capital than self expansion would require, franchising is a business in and of itself, which requires capital. Here are just a few of the areas you will need to spend a substantial amount of money on: 1) Attorney fees. There are many regulations and rules at the federal and state level that are imposed on franchisors. In addition, there are regulated documents that must be provided to each potential franchisee and the requirements for those documents are strictly enforced. 2) Accountant fees. Every start-up franchise will need to provide an opening balance sheet and in some states, an audited balance sheet is required. You will also want to work with an accountant to set up your accounting system for franchisees, including how royalties will be collected, and what line items should be included in the reporting by franchisees. 3) Staff. Franchising is a new business and requires staff with a different set of skills than you have probably hired for your own business concept. You will need sufficient support staff. 4) Advertising. Every franchisor needs to understand the value of advertising and marketing. You will need to promote your franchise in order to sell your franchise.
The above are just pointers and there are exceptions to most rules. However, by going through the list you can feel more confident in your decision to hold off on franchising or to move forward with franchising.