So you've been given a business proposition? With a good, careful review, you should be able to evaluate it and judge whether or not the franchise will help you meet your future goals. There are several major areas you must look into when deciding if the business proposition is the best franchise to open.
You should already know the answers to a lot of these questions after you, your solicitor and an accountant* have reviewed the franchisor’s conditions for the franchise offering. Think of these as a final checklist before you sign the franchise agreement. And don't forget to talk to other franchisees about their experience running the business and dealing with the franchisor.
- What is the total cost of establishing the franchise operation and what is included in that cost?
- How much working capital do you need to start out?
- What additional costs might be incurred besides the cost of establishing the business?
- What, if any, financing arrangements from the franchisor are available to you?
- Is there a deposit required, and is it refundable if the venture does not go forward?
- How often will the franchisee have to replace equipment?
- What gross margin is expected from the business?
- What are the expenses associated with the business?
- What is the projection for when you will break even?
- Are there accounts available you can review to confirm these projections?
- What is the initial fee?
- Are there ongoing fees and how are they calculated?
- Do you have to pay for marketing/advertising, and if so, how much?
- Does the franchisor mark up products sold to franchisees and what protections are in place against unfair price increases?
- Does the franchisor take a commission from supplier goods sold to the franchisee?
- Are there minimum ongoing fees or purchase of goods required of the franchisee?
3. Getting Started
- Who is responsible for finding the location?
- What is the franchisor’s procedure for preparing the franchisee to start operations?
- How long can you expect it to take from signing the agreement to actual business start-up?
- What initial services does the franchisor provide?
- What initial and ongoing training is provided? Do your staff get training from the franchisor?
- Who pays for the training?
4. Operating the Business
- Is there an operations manual to guide you, and if so, how often is it updated?
- What hours will the business operate?
- How will accounting and record keeping be managed?
- Are there any restrictions on the products sold by the franchisee?
- What, if any, national advertisements and promotions does the franchisor provide?
- Will the franchisee receive any help for local advertising? Is point-of-sale and promotional literature provided? Do you have to pay for these, and if so how much?
- Who are the head office team and field support staff? How can you reach them?
- What systems are in place for the franchisee to communicate with the franchisor?
If you know the answers to these questions, then you should be ready to make an informed decision about signing the franchise agreement. You should have a good understanding of how much you are actually investing, an accurate estimate of the costs of running the business, and knowledge of the amount of revenue the business should produce. When added up, this is the business proposition and you should have a clear picture of when and how much you can expect to profit.
*Looking for an accountant?
The Institute of Financial Accountants has members who aim to help small and medium-sized enterprises: http://www.ifa.org.uk/
The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales is the largest professional accountancy body in Europe. http://www.icaew.com/
Find a longer list of accountancy bodies click here.