Andrew Cutler, Sales and Franchise Director, Card Connection
Franchising, like starting any new business venture, is a learning curve. Be sure to discuss any challenges you are facing with your franchisor as they will be able to provide the support you need.
When starting out, accurately forecasting cash-flow is important. Many franchises offer the chance to earn income from day one, but remember you may need to fund equipment, training and stock. Work with your franchisor to take time to understand all the financial aspects of your franchise.
For more information visit the Card Connection Profile
Phil Gaffer, Franchise Recruitment Manager, BCR Associates
Always check to see if a franchisor is a member of the BFA – if not you need to ask the question: why?
Look at your personal skill set, experience and interests and seek out a synergy between these and your chosen franchise. If you are going to succeed as a franchisee you need to be passionate about your final choice of business.
Check that the earning potential matches your expectations and aspirations – some franchises like ours will offer you the opportunity to ‘road test’ the concept.
Is the business operating in a sustainable market, and does the franchise model offer you a direct route to a market that you would not be able to access on your own, for example is there a unique selling point for you to trade on?
Make sure you do your research properly, take your time and don’t allow yourself to be pressurised by the franchisor or anyone else. This is a once-in-a-lifetime decision!
Can you genuinely afford the investment?
Do you feel comfortable with the franchisor’s support team? It is imperative that you are able to strike up a rapport with the contacts at head office who will guide you through the important launch stage and beyond.
For more information visit the BCR Associates Profile
Tony Mundella, Franchise Director, Success Dynamics
Buy with your heart, not your head. It is too easy to fall in love with the dream of owning your own business and be seduced by a concept only to find that the reality is not what you thought it would be. It is essential that you have fully researched the business, the franchisor and the local market before you commit. Be aware of the realities of running the business, not just delivering the product or service.
Most businesses that fail do so because of a lack of cash, not sales. Be aware of the outgoings of the business and make extra allowances for possible unforeseen expenses. Ensure that you have sufficient cash to cover the cost of operating the business and taking your drawings if sales are slower than you predicted (typically first year sales in a start-up business are weighted to the second half) or if customers take longer to pay than you anticipated. One simple option is to negotiate an overdraft facility with your bank at the outset to provide a reserve. If you don’t use it, you don’t pay for it.
Nick Lyons, Managing Director, No Letting Go
It can be tempting to only consider industry sectors in which you have experience. You may think it will be easier to get started this way but you may be surprised how many transferable skills you have and a key element of a successful franchise system is to be able to take someone from outside that industry sector and make them a successful franchisee. Indeed, many franchisors deliberately seek franchisees who have little or no knowledge of their service or product but have general management and sales skills.
Be aware of the levels and strengths of competitors within your territory. Too little competition may seem good but might raise the question: how much demand is there? Too much competition may drive prices down and make you less profitable. Time spent researching the competition is rarely wasted and knowledge of their strengths and weaknesses can be invaluable when presenting your business to a potential customer. One factor to consider is the attitude of the target market. Is it price or service driven? If it's the former, then how can you provide a competitive edge, for example does the franchisor offer access to products at wholesale prices that your competitors cannot achieve? If it's the latter, then knowing how well your competitors deliver will enable you to develop a strategy offering something better.
Zakir Daud, Director, CityLocal
If you have recently embarked on a journey running your own franchise, there are certain things you should look at putting into place as soon as possible:
1. Get a decent online accounting system. There are online systems that you can now use that are so easy and intuitive for new start-ups.
2. Create a simple sales strategy and stick to it. Your franchisor should advise you.
3. If working from home, join some local business networking clubs.
4. Introduce yourself to other franchisees within your network in order to share the best practices with them.
5. Enjoy the journey!
Only you can determine the success of your business. Work hard and keep positive.
For more information visit the CityLocal Profile
Geoff Greenwood, Global Business Training and Development
Ensure that the franchise business you are considering to invest in will satisfy your outcome goals.
So often potential franchisees make snap decisions about the future in franchising, based upon the immediate criteria that they are considering at that particular moment.
Potential franchisees may feel that a certain franchise is a reward because it comes with short hours after years of working long hours in their last job, or because they have recently been made redundant. However, in our experience it is a question of matching desires and expectations with goals. To do this you need to start at what we call the outcome and work backwards, so for instance:
If you wish to retire in 10 years, what you do in those 10 years needs to get you to that outcome. The method to use is to set short-term process goals (such as how many customers a day will buy a certain amount of products or services?) ensuring that you achieve an annual performance goal (say you will gain £x at the end of that first year). After 10 annual performance goals are reached you will naturally have achieved the outcome goal you set a decade earlier. This process is helped by enjoyment, passion, motivation, learning, support and a business growth area, hopefully all of which are factors gained from your choice of franchise.
John Linehan, Managing Director, Foot Solutions
Buying a franchise and setting up a new business is a big decision and can be very demanding. If you are doing this for the first time, my advice is to ensure that you understand what your day-to-day role will be within the franchise and be 100% sure that you will enjoy doing it. Equally it is important that you understand and are comfortable with the amount of time required to carry out that role effectively. After that, the rest is easy.
Paul Clegg, Recruitment Manager, Mac Tools
Ensure that you research the franchisor fully. Are they ethical? Are they financially stable? Do they support their network properly?
For more information visit the Mac Tools Profile
Tom Acland, UK Managing Director, Cafe2U
Investing in a franchise is a long-term partnership between franchisee and franchisor, and this partnership isn't just important whilst setting up and establishing the business. In order to get good return on your investment, it is necessary to ensure you and your franchisor put time and effort into your relationship in both the short and long term.
If you as the ‘business owner’ don’t set high standards and adhere to them, then you cannot expect the same from your staff or from your sales or profit levels. Demand the best from yourself, and reap the rewards.
Know your numbers, know your targets, and the key performance indicators that you need to hit to measure if you are on target or not. If you are not on target then evaluate why, and decide how you will alter things to change this. If you are on target, then raise the targets!
Fully understand your business and core product lines, and understand how they affect your ability to make money.
For more information visit the Cafe2U Profile
Oliver Hemsley, Founder & Managing Director, Hemsley Gardening
My top tip for any first time franchisee would be to ask if you can see yourself doing this in five years’ time. Above all, make sure that you like the concept, and remember that the only silly question is the one you don’t ask.
Sarah Cook, Founder, Coconut Creatives
Ensure you take time to speak to several existing franchisees to understand if this is the kind of business that you are suited to. At the end of the day, the main differentiator in any franchise is the franchisee.
For more information visit the Coconut Creatives Profile
Lisa Curteis, Franchise Recruitment Director, Rosemary Bookkeeping
Always attend a discovery day or open day that a franchisor runs. This not only gives you a chance to meet the team and find out more about the franchise but it gives you a great opportunity to network and talk to like-minded individuals who are also considering the same business.
Patrick Thompson, Franchise Manager, Caremark Limited
• Don’t narrow your search or make your decision too soon.
• Visit as many franchisors as possible operating in the industry of your choice.
• Get as much information and as thorough an understanding as you can of all that is involved.
• Understand the subtle differences between all the different offerings and decide what and why you like one over another.
• Look carefully at the relationship between franchisor and franchisee.
• Set up meetings with other franchisees in the network and consider the feedback you get.
• Consider having 100 boxes on your list that need to be ticked before you are happy to commit to anything and never join a network with 97-98 ticked. Wait until all are ticked and you are comfortable making the commitment.
For more information visit the Caremark Profile
Jat Mann, Managing Director, PC PAL
Our top piece of advice for any new franchisees is to research and plan! Make sure you know your target market and understand how to attract them. All our new franchisees are guided and encouraged to thoroughly research their local market and their local marketing opportunities with our local market research form. Once all the information has been gathered we then create a custom 28 day launch plan for each individual franchisee, helping them to start their new business with maximum market penetration and continuous opportunities for growth.
Michele Burton, Director, Mitchy Titch Limited
Research carefully before you choose to manage your franchise; there are some very expensive, well-known companies offering fantastic services that they fail to deliver on, so do your homework. Find out their success and failure rates and see if the failing businesses are similar to your own.
Do your own research into other similar businesses and balance out what is on offer and how much others are charging; compare this with your own franchise to see how realistic you are being with your price. Never underestimate the cost of advertising and PR.
Norman Grossman, Auditel
Most new franchisees have not been self-employed before, so they have had the support of their company executives to drive the business forward. Suddenly, you are the marketing director, the finance director, the personnel director and so on! If it’s a home-based business, you are bereft of your erstwhile colleagues. This means a totally new outlook on life is required! Making coffee every half-hour might keep you awake but won’t move the business forward. Those who were engaged in acquiring clients are focused on this aspect. Others, who were in administrative or general management posts, will need to remember that without clients, the business will not prosper. It’s a truism that we do what we are most fond of doing! So those busy with selling will have to deal with the administration sometimes, while their counterparts will have to leave the petty cash and get on the phone if it’s not a cash business – probably quite quickly!
So, Lesson Number 1 is 'Time Management'. Try Amazon and buy the best book on the subject.
Lesson Number 2 is ‘Follow the Training Manual’. Most franchisees fail because (a) they don’t believe its valid stuff – after all they have been successful doing their own thing for years, and (b) ‘I’ll get around to it – sometime’. Alas, by the time they have found the time to study and obey, the business has collapsed.
Lesson Number 3 is 'Cash Flow'. Do keep a solid eye on your cash flow. Without a positive number, sooner or later you are going to go out of business. Most independent businesses do just that. Your new life is not going to be easy but with franchising, the level of success compared with independents is startling, so go with the flow. Remember you have not only your Head Office behind you but also your fellow-franchisees. Don’t be shy to ask for help!
For more information visit the Auditel Profile
For information about open days, visit: Auditel Discovery Days