10 things to look for in a great retail franchise
10 things to look for in a great retail franchise

Buying a franchise is a big decision, and like any big decision: don't rush!

There are many different types of franchises, and they all come with pros and cons. Retail franchises are popular with franchisees because they typically have great brand recognition and established success.

Today, 1851 discusses 10 things to look for in a great retail franchise.

1) Look for: an initial investment you can afford

This is a big one. An affordable initial investment is always attractive to a potential franchisee.

“We know that the initial investment is one of the first things that a prospective franchisee looks at during their research of various franchise opportunities,” said Keith Dziki, director of development for Wireless Zone. “Wireless Zone continues to stand out because our investment range is so competitive. We make it a top priority to keep the initial costs for our franchise offering down, ultimately letting franchisees focus on getting the business up and running without a huge financial burden hanging over their head.”

2) Look for: a brand that understands its niche

Many franchises are often clumped together into sectors like food or service, but others find ways to stand out. The truly great retail franchises are the ones that have a niche.

BoConcept’s unique focus attracts franchisees with an interest in interior design and high-quality furniture.

“While most other brands will focus on a particular item category, BoConcept has a holistic focus; with the exception of kitchens, customers can furnish their entire house, including accessories,” said Steen Knigg, Director of U.S. Marketing for BoConcept.

3) Look for: brand benefits

With Wireless Zone, The low investment cost can be partially attributed to the reasonable size of the spaces franchisees buy or lease. Most stores range from 1,100 to 2,000 square feet, and they often do not require new construction.

Once franchisees are up and running, the brand offers credit lines to help keep inventory fully stocked in stores. The brand also maintains strong relationships with third party vendors who can help streamline construction and renovation costs. Through Wireless Zone’s relationship with Ascentium, franchisees may be able to acquire unique financing options for store equipment.

“Wireless Zone’s business model is designed to set franchisees up for success,” said Dziki.

4) Look for: a brand you believe in

“Believe in the brands you work with,” said Paul Pickett, Chief Development Officer for Wild Birds Unlimited. “If you personally don’t believe in what you’re trying to sell, then how can you sell it to others? I am so lucky to have found Wild Birds Unlimited. It lets me work in a field that I am compassionate about. The brand and I have grown together and I love what I do.”

5) Look for: a product you are passionate about

You can’t just believe in the brand because of success, you should ideally be passionate about the product that you’ll work with, because that will help drive you towards greater success.

“Passion is a critical part of franchising success,” said Pickett. “This isn’t a retail business where you can succeed by being absentee or hands-off. So, we’re focused on continued growth of the system from a unit level economics perspective and making the business as easy to operate and profitable as possible. That means filling our development pipeline with stronger franchisee prospects, and also taking advantage of more online and digital resources for bird lovers.”

6) Look for: a brand that others believe in

You can love your brand and be passionate about the product, but others still need to be sold on it in order to have success.

A good franchise model is wasted on a sub-par product. In BoConcept’s case, they offer a high-quality product that a franchisee can stand behind.

“The product is excellent,” said Knigg. “We have all types of configurations and everything is customizable, with many pieces being multi-functional, such as a dual-function coffee table that turns into a dining table. We are one of the few concepts that do what we do in the franchise space.”

7) Look for: a brand that recognizes change in the market and adapts (but sticks with core values)

Over the years, the way we go to market has shifted completely. But, I’m proud that the DNA of our company hasn’t shifted a bit since day one,” said Pickett. “The retail concept has gotten so much more refined since then. We have so much more data to rely on. We can develop exclusive products and create private label products now that we couldn’t do before. As a smaller retailer, you can be a lot more nimble to trends in the industry, and that’s a strength of ours. But, our core has stayed the same. We’re selling joy. We’re selling experience and knowledge.”

8) Look for: a brand that wants you to be passionate about a product and success

You should look for a brand that wants to see your passion for their product but also wants to see your drive for success. If they prioritize success, so will you.

“In some ways, our desired qualified franchisee has changed, as we are looking for franchise store owners who are not only passionate about the hobby of bird feeding but also passionate about owning a very successful business,” said Pickett.

9) Look for: a brand that has a great support system

A little support will go a long way. Some brands provide more support for their franchisees than others, but corporate backing is always a good thing.

“BoConcept has created one of the strongest franchisee support systems in the industry, making sure that the minute a new store’s doors are opened, it’s positioned for success,” said Knigg. “BoConcept University is an extremely strong training program. Because we’ve been in the business for several decades, we continue to adapt our HR department — now called People & Performance — to what works best. Everything we have in our training series is offered on a digital platform, and we stress that everything is interactive. When you start at BoConcept, you have everything you need from the first day and on. Franchisees can follow our detailed training step by step and know they are not going to head in the wrong direction.”

10) Look for: a brand that matches your priorities

Some brands have lower initial investment costs than others, some offer a lot of support and some are more hand-off in their approach. The point is that retail franchises have great perks in general, but those perks vary between franchises. Look for these 9 previous things in retail franchises, and find out what is most important to you. Buying a franchise is a big decision, and like any big decision, it should not be rushed into.