Franchising: what you need to know

Investing in a franchise is a big decision, but it can be one of the most rewarding things you ever choose to do. As with any major decision, it’s crucial you take some time to do your research, so you are informed, well prepared and have a good understanding of how to start your franchising journey. Ahead of the first National Franchise Exhibition of 2017 in London, we spoke to Jack Sadler from the British Franchise Association about the benefits available to would be franchisees and what it takes to make a success of your business under a franchise model.  

Why franchising

Franchising gives you the freedom of being your own boss and running your own business, but you’re not working by yourself. Ongoing support will be provided by the franchisor and you can turn to the head office team at any time if you need assistance.

A franchise comes with an established and proven business model that, if you put the effort in, will ensure success, as well as a network of successful franchisees you can call on who will have experienced any issues you may encounter. A successful franchise should possess a strong brand and reputation, as well as know-how that has been developed over a number of years, making it far less likely to fail than a standard startup. You can meet face-to-face with over 100 leading franchise brands at The Franchise Exhibitions.

It’s not just the salary that can benefit you, either; you can potentially profit from the value of your business down the line when it comes to selling it. 

Franchising also has an excellent track record in the UK and the industry is stronger than ever: with over 90 per cent of franchisees reporting profitability for the past 20 years running, the sector is now worth over £15billion.

Experience

Unless the franchise is part of a very niche sector, most franchisors will not require you to have any experience in the industry, as full training and support will be provided. Instead, it’s the transferable skills that are important. You will be running your own business, remember, so strong management and leadership skills will definitely come in handy.

You therefore need to consider where your strengths – and weaknesses – lie. For example, if you have no experience of customer service, a franchise that revolves around this field may not be the right choice for you. As with running any business, franchising is a long-term investment and takes hard work – you need to be happy with your decision and comfortable with your new career. 

If you feel like your skillset needs a boost, the Growing Your Own Business Conference, which runs alongside The Franchise Exhibitions, provides a range of free workshops in essential disciplines, such as PR, digital marketing, finance and sales.

Research

Before investing in a franchise, it is vital you do as much as research and due diligence as possible from a variety of angles.

Research the market and your local area to make sure there’s sufficient demand for the product or service you want to sell. Avoiding crowded markets will reduce your competition and therefore greatly increase your chances of success.

Speak to as many current franchisees as you can, and not just the ones recommended by the franchisor, to get a real feel for the business before you make a commitment. Ask them questions such as: How is your work-life balance? Does the franchisor offer good support? Is the business what you expected?

It may sound obvious, but it’s important to extensively check your finances to determine how much funding you realistically have available. It’s worth noting that, should you require funding, high-street banks tend to look favourably at franchising as a business prospect, as there is access to historical trading figures.

The franchise departments within the high-street banks will ask you for a business plan. Be sure to put sufficient time and effort into developing your business plan and the associated projections, as it will be your yardstick for evaluating future performance.

Additionally, a franchise contract can be a very involved document. Make sure you get any documentation reviewed by an independent franchise lawyer before signing on the dotted line.

Finally, speak with the franchisor at length about their trading history and support structure, and ask to see copies of their accounts, reports and manuals. Ask if they are accredited by the British Franchise Association (BFA) and find out why if they aren’t.

Help, guidance and further information

Venture Marketing Group, organisers of The Franchise Exhibitions, provides a number of critical resources designed to help you out with everything you need to know about franchising. Online resources, such as FranchiseInfo, are a great place to begin the process and can help you narrow down your list of potential brands to invest in.

What’s more, information is easily available in Business Franchise , the official magazine of the bfa and an essential guide for all prospective franchisees. The industry-leading monthly publication for the franchise industry, it contains real-life accounts of successful franchisees, the latest industry news, and advice on a vast array of topics, from careers to finance. The magazine also contains the official show guide for the bfa-supported Franchise Exhibitions.

Meeting franchisors face-to-face is a vital part of the selection process. At The Franchise Exhibitions, you can greet the owners of proven franchise models in a relaxed environment and discover if your values and expectations are in sync with your future business partner. Explore the largest range of national and international brands, and discover what it is like to run your own business.

For extra peace of mind, the exhibitions are exclusively supported by the industry’s sole regulatory body, the BFA. All exhibiting brands have undergone stringent checks by the bfa to ensure they offer a viable opportunity that maintains best practice.

Making the leap into franchising can be intimidating. This is why The Franchise Exhibitions provide an extensive range of free presentations and support resources. You can attend free advice clinics on areas ranging from careers to finance, or speak to a wide range of impartial professional advisers from banks, consultancies, legal firms and trade associations who will give you the confidence you need to take the first step.

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