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How To Decide if Franchising Is Right for You

Before making a monumental investment, evaluate your skills, commitments and vision for the future to decide if franchising is right for you and, if so, which concept you should pursue.

It is no secret that investing in a franchise is a big decision. Many franchisees spend all their savings to start and may even take out loans or dip into retirement funds. And family members aren’t immune, either; business ownership naturally has a ripple effect and impacts friends and family. 

So, of course, you want to make sure you’re making the right decision. But how do you know? You can’t take a franchise on a test drive, so you’ve got to do your share of research, questioning, introspection and reflection.

“The spectrum of franchise opportunities is so broad in this day and age — so much more than just, ‘Do you want fries with that?’” explained Blake Martin, a franchise consultant with FranNet. “Education, healthcare, home improvement, robotics, pet care… the opportunities are broad enough that, in instances where an aspiring entrepreneur does want a match specific to their career, the franchising industry can align with just about any career experience.”

Martin explained that no single personality type or former professional title does better or worse in the franchising space. 

“The beauty of the franchising model is that the franchisor organization brings the know-how of their particular industry to the table,” he added. “They ask the local entrepreneur, who wants to become the franchisee, to bring a set of transferable ‘soft’ professional skills to the table in order to implement that know-how of the industry.”

This notion is illustrated well in the story of Ryan Gagne, a Venture X franchisee. Gagne joined the U.S. Marines immediately after high school graduation and enrolled in the Selected Marine Corps Reserve. This allowed him to attend boot camp like everyone else, but after training, he was able to attend a nearby college while serving at a reserve duty station. 

Over the years, he deployed, returned stateside, re-enrolled in classes and switched his course of study from law enforcement to business.

“I had noticed an entrepreneurial spirit in myself from a fairly young age,” he said. “While in college, I helped develop the blueprint and operations for a recycling program that was eventually adopted by all colleges within the Massachusetts State College system. I realized I loved creating something from the ground up and honing that process down.”

After corporate experience in banking, currency and electronic training, Gagne decided he was ready to take control of his own future.

“I worked various gigs in those fields for over a decade, but by 2016-17, I realized my destiny was being decided for me by these companies and their success,” he added. “It was a no for me, and that was when I decided I wanted to take my destiny into my own hands and get into business for myself.”

Not every single franchisee comes from a military or business background. Though those two attributes are, coincidentally, widely recognized in the space as great qualifiers, they are not mandatory. Rather, all successful franchisees share the same sentiment Gagne felt.

‘I decided I wanted to take my destiny into my own hands and get into business for myself.’

So, how do you know if franchising is right for you? First, ask yourself — and be realistic — whether you are ready to take control of your destiny. That sounds great and super empowering, but it means you are in control for better or worse. 

“Discipline, an unwillingness to give in and harnessing motivation to get up every day has helped me navigate through the toughest of times,” Gagne said. “There are risks in any business venture. As such, you need a level of resiliency and drive when owning and operating your own business.”

If you decide you’re up for it, there are a few other checks to do before fully committing.

Are You Prepared To Be a Community Staple?

“Almost all franchise locations are 100% locally owned and operated by neighbors in your community,” Martin said. “They hire locally, pay taxes locally and volunteer in their local communities.”

As you open and operate a business in your community, you will slowly become more and more integrated. Franchisees who are willing to get out into the community, whether it’s for clear marketing efforts or just to become a more familiar face, tend to see a stronger return on investment.

Do You Do Well With Systems?

Franchising is not the place for entrepreneurs who are always switching it up or always looking to do something different. The beauty of franchising lies in its systems; if pre-made systems don’t appeal to you, franchising probably isn’t right for you.

“One of the first things that attracted me to franchising was the defined processes, systems and support,” Gagne said. “I was introduced to United Franchise Group and a brand called Venture X. That’s where things came together. I was provided with a brand blueprint for Venture X, what it had to offer, and I was shown how it was going to look — the layout of the workspace, the furnishings and the color scheme. It was all going to be outfitted for me.”

As Martin said, the franchisor brings the know-how, and the franchisee brings the soft skills.

Are You Prepared To Spend the Time Necessary To Find the Right Fit?

Gagne explained that one of the most important factors he looked at was the franchisor itself. “It was important for me to invest in a concept that was established and had a level of success. Franchising can take some of the risk away, but having the right franchisor with the right support is key to your long-term success.”

The importance of fit comes through in Gagne’s advice to those on the fence. If he could say one thing to someone who is uncertain, it would be: “Whether a veteran or not, if you’re considering franchising, it’s important to look at the necessary skills it takes to be successful in that franchise and discern if those skills match up with your own.”

He added, “Personality type and skillsets are imperative to consider when deciding if a franchise concept is a right choice for you. For example, if you consider yourself to be an introvert and the franchise concept that you’re considering requires strong sales skills and ongoing relationship-building in order to be successful, you might want to rethink your investment strategy. But if it’s in the wheelhouse of your skillset and is doable for you, then there’s no reason not to do it.”