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Franchise Advice


“Getting into franchising is a major decision, up there with getting married, having kids and moving house”


with other franchisees to get their opinion on the franchisor’s success.


Here are 10 key questions you should be asking current franchisees:


• Are you making money? • Are you working long hours? • Do you get on with the other franchisees? • Has the business affected your family life? • Does the franchisor offer good support? • Do you enjoy the business? • Is the business giving you what you expected when you first came on board?


• If you knew what you know now, would you do it again?


Well-documented systems The franchisor should have their business system documented by way of a manual (or manuals). Ask to see the manual(s) before you sign the franchise agreement and be comfortable that the systems are well thought out, professionally presented and easy for you to understand and follow.


Effective training The franchisor should provide you with training in all aspects of the business system, including, but not limited to, sales, marketing, operations and finance. Ask to see a copy of the training programme for new franchisees.


Nigel Toplis Managing director The Bardon Group


Nigel Toplis is managing director and major shareholder of The Bardon Group, a multi-franchise business that owns and runs five companies. Nigel has written three books on franchising, was previously chairman of the bfa and is a fellow of Lancaster University.


Security of tenure Make sure that the franchisor does actually own the franchise or at least has the rights to operate the franchise. It is not unusual for a franchisor to run the business under a master licence agreement from another country.


Ongoing support structure Ongoing support from your franchisor is critical and, while it is true that you are buying into a brand and a business system, you are also buying into the franchisor’s intellect, know-how, training and support. You need to be clear that they have a support structure in place.


bfa membership The British Franchise Association (bfa) conducts vigorous checks on franchisors before allowing them to become members. It is not to say that non- members are poor franchisors but bfa membership


does give you added peace of mind. You can answer a number of questions about a


franchisor by doing diligent ‘desk research’. Check with the bfa, Companies House, franchise magazines, and ask the following:


• Are there other franchisors in the industry? If not, why not?


• Is your preferred franchisor the largest operator or a key player?


• If they are a newcomer do they have a brilliant new slant?


• Does it offer the best package to you as a customer?


• How often does a consumer buy the product or service?


• Do the products or services enjoy repeat business? • What is the typical value of a sale – and the typical profit? How many customers would you need to meet your minimum business projections? • Does this franchisor seem profitable? • Does this franchisor offer the best potential for growth?


However, there is nothing better than meeting with the franchisor face to face and asking about the following areas:


• Profitability – ask for two or three years of reports and accounts


• Knowledge – question them on the market and market trends


• Success – how long have they been in business and how successfully?


• Vision – are they a serious player or full of platitudes?


• Support – ask to see detailed support plans; examine the company organisation chart; note improvements made to their systems (or not). Are you forced to buy company product? Do they have the manpower and intellect in each key business area?


In summary, you should always look for a franchise where: the franchisor has a proven, successful trading history, good systems, effective training and support; it is a business you think you may be interested in now and in the future; you have some or most of the skills required; the investment required is within your compass; and the industry meets your specification, in that it’s large, growing and sustainable. n


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