Experts and those who’ve gone through the launching, managing and successful running of a franchise will tell you that owning a franchise can be just as risky as owning an independent small business – and it doesn’t get easier after signing on the dotted line. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth giving franchising a shot.
“The hardest part of being a franchisee is learning and adopting all the processes that exist in the brand you’re buying into. But it’s important that a customer can walk into any franchisee’s property across the country and have the exact same experience,” says Jeff Chew, Pizza Factory franchisee.
With that in mind, remember the financial, emotional and physical investment you’ve made in this new venture and let it fuel your success, from before you even serve your first customer
1. Financial and intellectual wealth
Don’t buy into a franchise where you might be undercapitalised, advises Paul Durant, a Junk King franchisee.
Keep in mind that running a new business isn’t challenging only mentally strenuous, but financially too, because you’re not always immediately profitable. Ensure you have enough runway for a few years at a loss or minimal profit.
“I did not do a thorough job in my initial research and discovery calls. I used a lot of my own assumptions and luckily they were fairly close,” recalls Durant.
“I would, however, suggest that you ask very detailed questions during the discovery process and listen carefully to the responses. Often what is not said is equally as important as what is said.”
2. Remember the purpose of the manual
The point of buying into the concept you’ve chosen is to ensure success based on a roadmap that’s already been drawn out for you. Straying from this plan unnecessarily is a shortcut to failure. This doesn’t mean you cannot make changes, but always ensure your growth is where it needs to be by following the system completely.
Franchisee Mark Arduino thought he was taking the advice he’d been given countless times: Just follow the system. But he quickly realised he wasn’t when all the franchise-specific training he’d been through was forgotten in favour of easier shortcuts.
“Then I realised my mistake. I came to see that it’s very user friendly. I’m sorry I didn’t use it from the start!” he says.
If you think you have a better way of doing something detailed in the franchisee manual, do your research. Your decision should follow a discussion with your franchisor, then align to the business plan.
3. Learn at every opportunity
It’s great that you have previous experience in business. It’s a huge bonus that could put you ahead of other franchisees in your network. But, always be willing to learn and put your hand up or open a book if you’re not sure. A vast business background doesn’t guarantee automatic success as a franchisee, so be open to learning from others.
“I have learned more from two of the franchisees in my area than I could ever have imagined and I owe my early success in large part to their willingness to help,” says Jeff Steele, a CMIT Solutions franchisee.
It may sometimes seem like you can do it all on your own, but even when you feel you can do anything, you cannot do everything. That’s why you joined a franchise that (hopefully) offers good support structure.