There is a big difference between having a business idea on paper and actually acting on that idea...
No business venture comes without risk, yet the potential of success is usually what ultimately sells people on a pursuit.
1851 previously wrote about the benefits of buying into a franchise as opposed to starting up a business, while also detailing how everything comes together in that process.
Although there are clear-cut reasons why buying a franchise might be a smarter alternative to owning a small business, no business opportunity should ever be rushed into.
With that in mind, 1851 breaks down 10 questions to ask yourself before buying a franchise.
1) Is the brand a good fit?
How can you sell others on your brand if you can’t sell it to yourself? Whether it aligns well with your values or your background, it is essential to believe in the brand that you partner with.
Bobby Carlson recently signed on to open a GYMGUYZ location in the Bentonville, Arkansas area. Bobby has always led an active lifestyle, having ran several marathons and participated in numerous long-distance bike races. When it came time for Bobby to consider a new opportunity with his business partner Michael Moore, he followed his passion for health by going with GYMGUYZ.
“I've always been very fitness focused, and I don't tiptoe through anything,” Carlson said. “I go full-throttle with everything that I do, and I want that to carry over to my business. GYMGUYZ stood out to me because of my fitness background.”
For Bobby, partnering with GYMGUYZ was a match made in heaven.
2) Is the support system a good fit?
One of the benefits of partnering with a franchise is that there support systems in place designed for success. A model is there, but often times you still have creative freedom to differentiate your franchise.
That being said, some brands might be more flexible than others. If you need the support system to be successful but want to have a chance to be different, it is important to partner with a brand that will allow that.
Allen Meretsky and Rob Gasko partnered with GYMGUYZ in New Jersey for this exact reason.
“[Allen and I] feel like we have good ideas and creativity,” Gasko, co-franchisee of GYMGUYZ in New Jersey said. “GYMGUYZ seemed like the most innovative, forward thinking brand that we considered. While there are certain guidelines to follow, you can do whatever you want to help your brand grow.”
3) Am I willing to put in the work?
Just because a brand might be widely recognized, does not mean it will sell itself. All franchises require a lot of work from the franchisee. This is often overlooked by people who are looking to buy a franchise.
“A lot of people don’t realize early on what it actually takes to be a successful franchisee,” said, Philip Schram, Chief Development Officer for Buffalo Wings & Rings. “They need to be a hard worker and also have the ability to entertain and interact with people or they will not succeed.”
4) Can I handle the financial side of things?
This is a big one. It is important to remember that if you buy a franchise, you will be responsible for running a business.
“A franchisee needs to be financially qualified to run a business,” said Schram. “They not only need to have the finances to support their franchise, but a good franchisee needs to be able to manage money well.”
5) Can I follow a system?
The support systems in place for franchises are not only there to help franchisees. These systems are in place because they represent a model for proven success. If you like to go completely rogue, being a franchisee might not be the best option.
“It’s not always about who has the most money, or who has the highest IQ, etc.,” said Beth Caron, Director of Franchise Development for Great Clips. “If you have the basic skills the franchisor requires, you are willing and able to follow a system, and you’ve got grit (that power of passion and perseverance) I think there is nothing stopping you from being an incredible franchisee.”
6) Can I work with people?
Whether you’re working with customers or potential business partners, a good franchisee needs to be able to work with people.
“You have to work hard, care and have pride for what you do, because attitude is important,” said JAN-PRO Master Franchisor Stephen Brodack. “The cleaning part is easy. Respect and responsibility are more important, because you can’t fix a bad attitude. You can teach someone how to cook or clean, but you can’t always teach someone be nice.”
7) Am I familiar with the market?
It will really benefit a franchisee if they are familiar with the area that they will run their franchise in. It not only will come in handy form a business perspective, but being a staple in the community will go a long way in helping your business.
For Welcomemat Services franchisee Paul Grekowicz, partnering with the brand was the perfect storm of an opportunity. Grekowicz has lived and been very active in the Brookfield, WI community for 15 years while leading a career in sales and marketing, so he can now give back to the community that he loves while helping it grow.
“There's a steady stream of families moving into the area for better schools for their kids, corporate jobs, and much more – whether that’s Brookfield or the entire Milwaukee area,” said Grekowicz. “Metropolitan Milwaukee is a fantastic place to be.”
8) Does the market have a demand for my product?
It is not enough to be familiar with the market. If the market doesn’t have a demand for your product, it will be hard to find success.
“I saw a good opportunity to help a community in an area that it was lacking help in,” said Chris Phillips, franchisee of Mosquito Joe in Jacksonville, FL. “I soon realized that Mosquito Joe was not really a seasonal business in Florida, as the year-round warm temperatures extended my business into the winter months. This ended up being a blessing in disguise, though, as I also came to the realization that I was not quite yet ready for retirement."
9) Do I realize that it’s a full-time job?
Many people think that because a brand is popular and there are support systems in place, that they will have added free time being a franchisee compared to when they held full-time jobs.
Running a franchise not only requires hard work, it requires the same – if not more – hours that a normal full-time job demands. You don’t automatically have more time to spend with your family just because you become a franchisee.
“I was very naive to what goes on behind the scenes and the work that goes into [running a franchise],” said Manmeet Kaur, franchisee of Pita Pit in Denver, CO. “Running a franchise really is a full-time commitment with a lot of work required daily, but the food offered at Pita Pit is what drove us past that. We loved the concept because it wasn’t that common.”
10) What are my long-term goals?
It is important to set goals because they give you something to strive for. When someone finds success in franchising, expansion is very common. Not everyone ends up expanding – and there are plenty of single-unit franchisees – but if you have a goal of expanding eventually, it might make you more driven to find success in the present.
“I have tremendous respect for franchisees who run a single unit of a franchise, but if I could change one thing, I would push people to be even more ambitious,” said Schram, Chief Development Officer for Buffalo Wings & Rings. “I want more franchisees to have expansion on their minds. While it is extremely admirable to run a single unit of a franchise, I love working with franchisees who have a bigger goal in mind.”