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What To Expect in Your First Year of Franchising

In addition to the growth-related tasks franchisees must complete during the first year, they should expect to have a few breakthroughs in the model as well.

Opening a new franchise comes with a lot of responsibility, whether you’re a long-time franchisee or completely new to the model. There are some more technical, logistical challenges to prepare yourself for, but higher-level realizations often occur, too.

What Are Some of the Common Technical Hurdles?

Managing things like finances, marketing and staffing can pose a challenge for franchisees. During the first year of ownership, there are a lot of moving parts. Including any construction or renovation necessary, franchisees will need to be involved in the coordination of projects, management of funds and preparing for the future.

Staying involved, and hiring an accounting professional, if that is not your expertise, is one of the best ways to mitigate risk. Not only will you be more informed about the finances of the business, but you’ll also be set to keep costs low and maintain a level of capital that can carry you through upcoming projects, including hiring and marketing.

Required marketing efforts may vary slightly depending on the location of your franchise; if there are no other units nearby, name recognition will likely be a bit lower. While the franchisor generally provides marketing guidance, it is up to you to execute.

Depending on the type of franchise you invest in, staffing requirements can vary greatly. At the opening, a restaurant that is open for eight hours every day will probably need more staff than a mobile cleaning service. If you are in a position to manage the business and handle all operational work, staffing may be a bit less of an urgent need, but it never hurts to start recruiting early on — especially in the current labor economy. For a concept that will require multiple employees on opening day, recruiting should start early so you have the flexibility to evaluate a range of candidates and hire the best fit.

Operations Aren’t the Only Thing To Consider

While operational tasks are important to the healthy functioning of the business, the franchisee should also expect some more personal changes. Entering the franchising space, or adding an additional unit, is a big life change.

“The biggest hurdle new owners have is that they have false expectations of owning one’s own business,” said Michael Haith, CEO of Teriyaki Madness. “The amount of work involved, the amount of mindshare involved, the amount of money they’re going to make and the amount of time they’re going to invest.”

Entering the space with misconceptions can make the entire experience pretty challenging. However, the realizations that occur as franchisees come to terms with the reality can be empowering to the right kind of person.

“I think, for the folks who are ultimately going to be successful, one of the most positive things that occurs in the first year is that they realize that their success is really going to rest on their shoulders,” Haith added. “I have always loved being consumed by a business where failure is not an option. I can focus, and I can build. What we have found in the most successful franchisees or builders is that they aren’t necessarily focused on profitability right out of the gate in that first year. They’re focused on building a great team and a great business.”

Focusing on more of a long-term viewpoint can provide the perspective a franchisee needs to find success, but the owner needs to be ready and willing to make that adjustment. Focus on the now as needed — with things like staffing and financial management — without hyper-focusing on immediate success. Good things take time.