What qualities should you look for in a franchisor?

Researching franchise opportunities? The bfa's Paul Stafford outlines four essential characteristics of any good franchise brand...

Going into business under someone else’s brand and systems is a big decision and one which should be approached with careful thought in order to maximise your potential for success.

We’ve previously covered some of the top traits shared by exceptional franchisees, so it’s good to look at the other side of the equation too: the standards that you should insist upon when dealing with a franchisor while you explore a franchise opportunity.

If you don’t see the following, think twice before investing your money.

Evidence

Franchisors should have a track record in business, backed up by proof of their success.

You’ll be given financial projections when you’re deeper into the joining process, what you can expect to turnover and profit as your business develops.

A key tenet of the British Franchise Association’s (bfa) accreditation process for franchisors is proof of what these forecasts are based on: accounts must verify that they have been achieved, either by other franchisees or by a company-owned outlet at the same stage of its development.

It’s extreme ‘short-termism’ for a franchisor to operate otherwise: if the numbers are simply plucked from thin air because they sound good to a potential investor then, when reality hits your trust and motivation as a franchisee will quickly evaporate.

You’re looking to replicate proven success. Ask for the evidence that forecasts are accurate and feasible – any franchisor worth your time and money will be happy to show you.

Selectivity

As a franchisee you’ll be operating under a common brand together with other business owners in the network.

That’s one of the core strengths of franchising: a collaborative group of people sharing ideas and experiences for the communal benefit of all is an incredible powerful resource. It’s also a collective responsibility.

Therefore you need confidence that franchisees as well as the franchisor are conscientious about the quality control of that brand, which begins with the latter having rigorous selection procedures for who can join the network in the first place.

It should be a two-way due diligence process. Expect and welcome in-depth questions about who you are, the skills you have and what’s motivating you to become self-employed.

Be wary of any franchisor that appears more interested in ‘making the sale’ then about how suitable you are for the business. If all they want from their franchisees is a pulse and a cheque, it may be time to look elsewhere!

Transparency

If you’re going into business for yourself with the support of a franchisor, then openness from both parties should be the norm from the outset. You should be asking plenty of questions during the process of researching the opportunity and you should expect transparency on the answers, without the feeling that things are being hidden from you.

This includes open disclosure of information on everything from:

  • Business and culture
  • The fee structure
  • The support offered
  • The financial potential
  • Daily operations of franchisees
  • Communications channels used in the network.

Good franchisors want to see you explore all aspects of their franchise. You’ll be better placed to succeed if you have your eyes open and understand the workings of the business from day one.

Remember that speaking with existing franchisees is a great way to verify what life in the network is like and check that you have the full picture before investing. When your conversations with them mirror what you’ve been told by the franchisor, you can have confidence in the way the network is run. Speaking of which…

Integrity

The people you deal with are a vital part of researching a franchise opportunity. Not only will they be the ones supporting you in your franchise, but they also drive the culture of the brand you’ll be operating under. A franchise network is a reflection of the people leading it.

Consequently, their background and approach – to the business and their franchisees alike – are hugely important. If you feel your relationship is built on trust and honesty from the beginning, that’s a very good sign of things to come.

In an established franchise with a large network of franchisees, there will usually be field-based staff and franchise managers. For newer franchisors, you’ll often be dealing with the founders and most senior staff directly. Either way, how they represent the brand in their conversations with you is important.

Franchisors have a complex mix of responsibilities including franchisee support, business development, innovation, marketing and raising brand awareness…you want to see that they are honest people that you can envision having a strong working relationship with.

For more advice on how to choose a franchise, click here.

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