If you’re thinking about going into franchising, one of the first things you will think about is about whether you should join a large conglomerate like Burger King or Spar, or if would it be better to go with a new franchise business. Which would be a better fit for you?
I’m Brody Sweeney, the founder of Camile Thai Kitchen, an award winning home delivery franchise. It’s my third franchise business, so I guess you could say my grey hair has seen a lot. This blog is not about my business, but rather some advice for if you’re thinking about franchises generally.
Like most things in life, there are good and potentially bad things about getting involved with a start up franchise. What I’m going to take you through now are some of the good reasons – indeed some of the great reasons – you should consider a start up franchise, as a brilliant partner to help you achieve your own business and career goals.
- There is more opportunity to grow. Finding an opportunity to start with an established franchise can be tricky. For example in McDonald’s, they may have an opportunity for you, but it could be hundreds of miles from where you live. If you want to buy a Domino’s Pizza franchise in the UK or Ireland, it’s virtually impossible, as existing franchisees and company-owned store managers snap up all the available opportunities. In a new franchise you won’t find a ‘sold out’ sign on areas, say close to where you live, that you might like to open in. You can reserve other areas for future growth, before they’re all sold out. In a good young franchise your annual sales growth will be higher than in an established franchise, as your brand awareness grows. That means lots of opportunities to grow personally and for your business.
- You won’t be just a number. The managers of your franchise have a strong vested interest in your success. You see smart franchisors realise early on that the best selling proposition for their franchise – the best way of getting new franchisees into the system – is to have successful existing franchisees. The company is motivated to really take care of you, and do whatever it takes to make you successful, because when you are successful, then so are they.
- You stand to make a bigger capital gain when you go to sell your business. When you start your new business under the new franchisors umbrella, typically its resale value may not be as high as established franchises in the early stages. But as your new franchise grows, and new franchisees join the system, the resale value will increase as good opportunities in your franchise become rarer.
- You’ll be part of something new and exciting. For lots of us, being in a business that’s growing quickly can be a real buzz, as the sometimes chaotic rapid growth period is exciting and fun. Growing any business rapidly usually brings lots of growth pangs, but you can put up with that, if positive momentum is being maintained.
- There will be lots of innovation. Some of us thrive on novelty and variety, and in a fast growing franchise there’s usually plenty of that. In the early stages the franchisor won’t have figured all the myriad aspects of running your type of business, so a healthy level of innovation – and trial and error is a good thing. If you’re somebody who loves a predictable, low fuss life – and some people do for good reasons – you might be best not joining a fast growth early stage franchise.
- It’s less risky than doing it on your own. While starting with almost any young franchise is less risky than doing it on your own, it can be more risky than doing it with an established franchise. Before a good franchisor allows you to open under their brand, they should do some important checks with you to make sure you are suitable for their business. For example a good franchisor would make sure you have enough money, that you don’t borrow too much, and that you do have the ability to do so if you need to. They would also spend time with you to make sure you are temperamentally suitable for running your own business, and leading a team of people, where that is applicable. They wouldn’t let you open in a location where they thought it might not work, and they will know the prices to charge to make sure you can get to a bottom line, and how to market the business, and how to train the staff, etc. When you put these reasons (and these are only some of them) together, these are typically where small business owners fall down, when starting up a business.
- You’ll be an important part of creating something great. It’s a great feeling to be in on the ground floor of a successful new business, and to have the satisfaction of saying you were part of the founding team, that made it great. Think of how proud the early franchisees of McDonald’s or The Body Shop must have felt, being recognised as pioneers in their respective industries.
- You’ll have a much closer relationship with your franchisor in a small franchise business. In the early days, when the franchise is small, you will have a close relationship with the founder and their start-up team. As the franchise grows, these early relationships, when you really counted towards getting the franchise off the ground, will be really important. The fact that you will always have a direct line to the founders, means that when you need to be heard, you will be.
- You’ll have an opportunity to contribute your own ideas. Some of the best innovation in young franchise companies comes from its franchisees. The McDonald’s Big Mac was an invention of one of its franchisees, and your great idea could become a cornerstone of your franchise’s growth.
- You won’t be on your own. One of the hardest things about starting a new business on your own, and one almost nobody talks about, is the loneliness. When you don’t know what to do, and believe me, in a new business, that’s a lot of the time, it can be really stressful trying to figure out what’s the right thing to do. In franchising, you work for yourself but not by yourself. There’s a proven system to operate the business, and when some new problem comes up, it’s likely some other franchisee in the system has already faced the problem, and figured out the solution, and you can benefit from their experience. A good franchisor provides lots of opportunities to communicate with your peers and the company’s management, so that you don’t feel that you’re on your own.
If I was leaving you with one tip – and if after this session, it’s not completely obvious – it’s get to know your franchisor as well as you can, before embarking on a business adventure with them. Franchising is like getting married in a business sense. If you think about that, in a conventional marriage, you meet your new partner, probably flirt with them, spend lots of time with them, and then meet their family before making a lifelong commitment. Apply this thinking to your new franchises business, and you reduce substantially the risk of making a mistake.
So those are my ten reasons why you should consider a start-up franchise. In my next post, I’m going to give you ten things to watch out for in a start-up franchise, so you have balance, as you make your mind up about what the correct call for you to make is.
Good luck and stay safe.