When considering franchise ownership as a business option, conducting thorough research becomes paramount to making informed decisions. In this blog, we will explore the key aspects of researching franchise opportunities and how they contribute to successful business ownership.
Engaging a Consultant: Unleashing Expertise and Support
Determining whether to engage a franchise consultant is a critical first step. It’s worth noting that consultants typically provide their services free of charge to clients, as they are compensated through a commission paid by the franchisor upon the client’s investment. It is illegal for the franchise to charge this commission back to the client, except sometimes in cases where the franchisee breaks the contract prematurely.
By working with a consultant, you gain access to their expertise, extensive franchise brand options, helpful 3rd party experts, and valuable support throughout the process.
Funding Consult: Assessing Creditworthiness and Maximizing Investment Potential
The franchise consultant can introduce you to funding experts, including those well versed with franchise and those that focus on alternative funding. Conducting an initial consultation visit early on can help you evaluate your creditworthiness and identify the best funding methods available. This consultation will help you determine the optimal funding avenues and potential investment limits.
By thoroughly assessing your financial situation and exploring various funding options, such as bank loans or self-financing, you can pave the way for a successful franchise investment without getting over your skis. There will be time to talk with as many funding experts as needed until you are comfortable with one.
Familiarizing Yourself with Franchise Categories: Navigating Diverse Opportunities
To make well-informed decisions, it is vital to familiarize yourself with the different categories of franchise brands. Each category offers unique opportunities, ranging from retail (including food and beverage), services to businesses, and services to families. Understanding these categories allows you to align your interests, skills, and market demand with the right franchise option. Conducting extensive market research will help you evaluate the growth potential and profitability of each category, enabling you to choose a brand that resonates with your aspirations.
Understanding Procedures, Systems, and Services: Ensuring Long-Term Success
Franchise brands provide owners with established procedures, systems, and support services. Understanding these elements is crucial to ensure long-term success. Evaluate the training programs, marketing support, supply chain management, and ongoing assistance offered by franchisors. This comprehensive understanding enables you to make an informed decision about a brand that aligns with your expectations and business goals as well as what functions you might have to fill as an owner.
Identifying Lifestyle Goals and Work Style Preferences: Achieving Balance and Fulfillment
Franchise ownership should align with your lifestyle goals and work style preferences, beyond just financial success. Take the time to identify your personal ambitions, desired work-life balance, and long-term objectives. The franchise brands vary in terms of time commitment, operational demands, and flexibility. By aligning your lifestyle goals and work style targets, you can select a franchise opportunity that brings fulfillment and balance to your life. In understanding your goals and work preference,
it is critical to identify what role, if any, your spouse or partners will play. When it comes time to interview with the franchise brands, these elements should already be clear so there are no surprises when meeting the Franchises. The assessment and education work through this point might have taken 3-4 weeks or more, depending on everyone’s availability.
Preparation and Support Through Brand Developer Interviews: Building Confidence
As you progress in your research, it is crucial to prepare for interviews with brand developers and seek support throughout the process. These interviews provide an invaluable opportunity to gain deeper insights into the franchisor’s vision, values, and expectations. Leverage the expertise of your consultant or mentor to articulate effective questions and evaluate responses. Their guidance builds your confidence and empowers you to make an informed decision about the franchise opportunity. The interview process usually takes several steps. During this time, they will share the Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD) and conduct a review of that document with you at a high level.
Though an FDD is written in plain language, it is a very long document. Many clients will choose to review the FDD with a franchise attorney once they are pretty serious about a particular brand. Once you start meeting with a Brand, it can take as long as 6-8 weeks to get through all the steps, including Validation and Discovery. It is smart to interview with no less than two brands. The interviews with one can help you ask better questions of the other and vice versa.
Validation Through Existing Franchisees: Unveiling Potential Success
If the initial franchisor interviews go well, they will arrange for you to have Validation sessions with some existing franchisees. This is a crucial step in understanding the potential of a franchise. It is in these conversations with current franchise owners that you learn the best information about potential revenues, costs, and success factors. The franchisees’ firsthand experiences provide invaluable insights, allowing you to assess whether the franchise aligns with your financial and growth expectations.
You want to ask great questions about every aspect of the business, from start-up onward, including detailed questions about operations and financials. This validation process equips you with real-world perspectives within the franchise system, and information needed to build your proformas which aid you in informed decision-making. By law, neither the franchise consultant nor the franchisor can make financial claims.
Creating a Proforma: The Roadmap to Decision Making
Creating a proforma is an essential step in evaluating the financial feasibility of a franchise investment. This comprehensive financial statement projects future revenues, costs, and profitability. While the franchise consultant can educate you about a proforma in concept, you are directly responsible for gathering the revenue and cost information from existing franchisees and assembling it into information for decision making. This is when you may want to engage your accountant or an independent business coach to assess the P&L for return-on-investment prospects. This analysis provides a roadmap for decision making, enabling you to make informed choices based on concrete financial projections.
Engaging 3rd Party Services: Ensuring Diligence and Expertise
By law, a franchise consultant can’t advise you about the Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD) or prospective financials. To bolster your research, consider engaging third-party services for the FDD and proforma reviews. You don’t take an FDD to a normal family lawyer. You don’t want to pay hourly rates for a lawyer to learn about these long documents. Real franchise lawyers typically charge a flat fee to do a multi-step review process with you for an FDD for a brand about which you have serious interest. Your trusted accounting expert can help you with financial projections. Using these experts is your choice and your expense.
A franchise consultant can make referrals if you need them and should NEVER tell you not to seek their guidance. The objective analysis of legal and accounting experts helps identify potential risks, discrepancies, or red flags. By using their services, you can ensure independent due diligence and gain expert insights into the franchise opportunity you’re considering. If you are really torn between two brands, you might consider going through these steps for both brands. Most of the time people typically only do this for the brand they like the best.
Attending Discovery Day and Invitation to Invest: A Momentous Step
Discovery Day is an important event organized by franchisors, offering potential franchisees (and spouses and/or partners) a comprehensive overview of their brand. Attending Discovery Day allows you to meet the franchisor’s team, ask questions, and assess their culture and values. Very often, it is near the end of the Discovery Day activities that the brand “awards” an invitation to invest. This is when you know you have successfully won the day!
If you receive an invitation to invest in the brand after Discovery Day, evaluate the terms and conditions meticulously. Consult with your trusted advisors before making the final decision. Congratulations! Once you sign the Franchise Agreement and pay the franchise fee, you will be on your way to standing up your new business.
In conclusion, researching franchise opportunities involves examining yourself, learning about franchise in general, carefully interviewing matched brands, and using experts to complete due diligence steps. By following these steps, you can embark on a successful path to franchise ownership and turn your entrepreneurial dreams into reality. If a franchise consultant can help you navigate the process, match you to a short list of best-fit brands for interviews, and avoid pitfalls for free, why would ever do it by yourself?