What Are the Costs?
There are a number of start-up and ongoing costs associated with setting up and running a franchise, including:
- The initial franchise fee – this is what you pay the franchisor to buy the business and it may or may not include training, location selection, ongoing support etc. What this initial fee covers should be detailed in the franchise agreement.
- Capital investment – securing a location and/or equipment in accordance with the franchise package specifications, which could entail hiring contractors for construction and remodelling. You may have to buy start-up inventory. There will be other, not-so-obvious costs too, such as insurance, property taxes, accountant and legal bills, and even zoning fees.
- Working capital – the money you’ll need to survive the initial start-up phase, including training, until business revenues begin to grow. You may have to pay employees before the business makes any money.
- Continuing fees – in the form of royalties, management service fees and advertising and marketing fees.
How Will You Pay For All This?
In some cases, the franchisor offers a financing package and, if so, all the forms and requirements will be provided in the franchise agreement for you and your accountant to review. But most likely, you will be seeking loans from financial institutions, and you will need to present a credible business plan in order to secure financing.
Although creating a business plan sounds complicated, it doesn’t have to be. Most business plans follow a fairly uniform format, which you can find online or in business books. And after you’ve pulled together all the raw information you need, you can hire a professional writer to polish the content for final presentation. Some franchisors provide help with business plans too, though there are legal liabilities associated with franchisors making any projected earnings claims for inclusion in the business plan.
Much of the information needed, such as the company’s management structure, market demographics, day-to-day operational procedures, a marketing plan and start-up and ongoing costs should be supplied to you by the franchisor.
Basically, you’ll need to start with an executive summary that describes the franchise, the products and services offered, the target market, the competition, your competitive advantage, and projected revenues and return on investment. The executive summary is just what it sounds like and sums up the whole business operation. It is the initial pitch, and it shouldn’t be too long – one page is a good target length. It should be easy to read and persuasive about your business prospects. If the executive summary does not capture the financier’s interest, then you probably won’t get your funding.
Other Components of the Business Plan Are:
- Mission Statement – describes the purpose of your business, and outlines your (and the franchisor’s) philosophy regarding products, customers, employees, vendors, operations and community involvement.
- Business Structure – details the company history, its management hierarchy, growth record, any debts, public and private equity shares, etc.
- Industry Analysis – this portion of the business plan is where you make the most positive pitch about your prospects by presenting facts about the industry such as its size, growth rate, industry leading companies, different market segments, future potential projections by industry analysts, etc. It helps to use charts here for quick comparison about growth projection, market segmentation, and competition. This section should include any information about business trends and legislative or environmental factors that can influence your business.
- Market Analysis – provide data specific to your customer base, existing competition, your location, local trends and factors that can impact the growth of your business.
- Operations – the operating manual should provide you with the basics on your day-to-day operations such as personnel, procurement, training, hours, and the operational procedures involved in producing and/or delivering your products and services to customers.
- Marketing Plan – here you can present the franchisor’s marketing and advertising strategies, and what support you will get at the local level. You can describe the grand opening, any special pricing or promotions you’ll be offering, and anything that sets you apart from the competition.
- Business Management – describe how you intend to manage the business on a daily basis, including the number of staff, their titles and responsibilities, how you will recruit them, and what salaries and benefits will be offered. Include your own experience and accomplishments, and what compensation you expect to get from the business. If you have already lined up individuals for management roles, then describe their qualifications and accomplishments.
- Financing – state how you intend to finance the start-up costs, possibly through a mix of personal savings, family loans and presumably a business loan. You will need to supply profit-and-loss forecasts and cash flow projections for at least the first three years. In this section, you must present the case for when you will break even, make a profit and receive a return on your investment.
- Appendix – this is where you can attach documents such as your tax returns, media clips about the industry and the franchisor company, and any other pertinent materials you used for your market and industry research that present your franchise business plan in a positive light.
The franchisor will often review your business plan and make suggestions based on his or her experience on how to improve it. However, as mentioned earlier, the franchisor is under legal restrictions about making any claims regarding projected earnings. Your accountant and solicitor should also review your business plan to ensure that everything is properly explained.
Hilary Devey is the award-winning entrepeneur who made a fortune creating the palletised network Pall-Ex. She was on the panel of BBC Two's Dragons' Den, has fronted Channel 4's series The Intern, and here she gives some crucial advice on the writing of a business plan.