Franchise advice


hinking about buying a franchise? You’ll likely have a lot of questions. When is it the right time to invest?

How do you make sure that you choose the right one? It is an important decision to make, so the best thing to do is to take things step by step as you find out more. Here are my tips to bear in mind when you are thinking about buying a franchise:

What do you want to do? First off, think about what you want to do and how you want to spend your time. The beauty of franchising is that you don’t have to run a business where you have experience and skills – but can consider a complete change of career, as training and support is provided. What are your priorities for this next period in your life? Do you want to grow a business and build an asset to secure your future? Or possibly slow down a bit and improve your work-life balance? Perhaps you want to move into a caring profession, using your existing skills to help people? Be honest with yourself throughout this stage – not everyone is cut out to be in business for themselves. And although franchising reduces the risks and provides support, you will still need to work hard to make your franchise a success. As with any life-changing decision there are many factors to consider, but one of the main ones must be: “What am I going to enjoy doing every day?”

Examine the options Have a good look at franchising in more depth to get a better idea of the opportunities available. With a wide range of sectors and types of businesses represented in franchising, there really is something for everyone. There are home- based owner-operator franchises in many industries, including children’s activities, pet care, mobile sales, car repairs and cleaning.

"With a wide range of sectors represented in franchising, there

really is something for everyone"

Then there are office- or premises-based franchises, covering property letting, sign making, retail and food, to name a few. You may need to employ staff or you could choose a more hands-on business, depending on the franchise. Start to explore further and understand what makes a good franchise. Start with the British Franchise Association (bfa) website, where you can look at the directory of members, as well as go through the online Prospect Franchisee Certificate to add to your knowledge. Attend The Franchise Exhibitions and educational seminars on franchising and you will start to see the differences with stronger, well-established franchises that offer great support.

Narrow things down You will need to start to narrow things down, decide what you want to do and choose a sector that you are interested in. Make sure this sector can offer what you are looking for and is one that you can afford. Once you have decided, make a list of the franchises offering this type of business, arrange to visit at least a couple to compare their setup and meet the key people involved before you choose. Be aware that they will also be vetting you, as they will only want the right potential franchisees to join their network.

Ask lots of questions Now things begin to get serious. Specific research into your chosen franchise needs

to be thoroughly undertaken. Again, look at the resources available on the bfa website where there is a list of questions to ask a franchisor. Get a copy of the franchise contract and have that vetted by an expert franchise solicitor so that you understand exactly what it involves. Speak to existing franchisees and ask them about their experience of running the franchise. What can they tell you about the support offered by the franchisor, especially at the start? Can they give you any tips about what they found difficult and how much help they received from the franchisor to overcome any problems?

Prepare a thorough and realistic business plan Examine your finances in detail and prepare your business plan. It is important to have sufficient funding for the franchise from the outset, as being short of cash will hold back your growth and could lead to the business struggling. Remember, you will need to give

your full time and commitment to making the franchise a success, you are not ‘buying a job’. Franchising offers lots of benefits

compared with going it alone and it is certainly worth exploring, especially if running your own business is something you’ve wanted to do but you are nervous about the risks. l

Cathryn Hayes QFP is franchise director at Revive! Auto Innovations and has over 20 years’ experience in franchising, including head of franchising at HSBC and head of business support at the bfa


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