Why you should try before you buy a franchise
When you make any big purchase in your life, chances are you think long and hard before you decide. Part of your decision-making process will be influenced by your experience of what you’re about to buy, and this can only truly be gained by trying it out first.
Just as you would take a car for a test drive, view a property at different times of the day, or try on a hundred wedding dresses before you find the one, the try before you buy concept is a well-used one. So why should a decision as significant as making the right franchise investment be any different?
The answer is, it shouldn’t be. But before you give franchising a test run, there are a few basics you need to cover off first.
•Perform a self-assessment
Not everyone is cut out to be a franchisee. There’s no guarantee of success, and you have to be committed and dedicated to achieving a profitable franchise. Before you even consider making a franchise investment, you need to be sure that the franchise business model is right for you. You must be able to follow the rules determined by the franchisor and adhere to the franchise system that they’ve developed. If you don’t like sticking to the rules and would prefer to run your business your way, then franchising may not be for you.
•Know your strengths and weaknesses
As well as understanding if you have the right personality to become a franchisee, you should also consider your skill set so that you find the best opportunity for you. Take time to understand your strengths and weaknesses. Once you know where your abilities lie, give some thought to what you’re passionate about and what interests you. These factors should all influence the franchise that you decide to invest in to make sure you feel fulfilled and can achieve your full potential.
•Understand if you can afford it
Now that you’ve done some self-analysis, it’s time to work out what you can afford. There’s no point looking at franchises that you may be well-suited to, but which are totally out of your budget. Start by listing all of your assets and your liabilities. The difference between the two is known as your net worth. Most franchisors set a minimum requirement when it comes to your net worth, so bear this in mind when reviewing franchise information that you have available.
Buying a franchise – tips before you buy
Now you’re sure that the franchise business model is right for you, you can follow these five steps to ‘try it before you buy it’:
1.Join a franchise as an employee before you become a franchisee
You may have found the perfect franchise that suits your skills and your budget, but it doesn’t matter how much due diligence you perform, you won’t really understand the business until you’re part of it. You could consider joining the franchise as an employee as a way of getting to know the company inside out before you make your franchise investment. This requires time and patience but will ensure that you make a well-informed decision based on the best form of franchise information – personal experience.
2.Spend time shadowing a franchisee
If it’s not practical for you to become an employee before you invest, the next best thing is to spend time working alongside a franchisee. This will give you valuable insight into what a day in the life of a franchisee looks like. You’ll get to experience the highs and the lows, as well as picking up some tips along the way. This is also a great way to demonstrate to a franchisor that you’re serious about making an investment which will help when you start to build your relationship.
3.Speak to as many franchisees as possible
Even if you do shadow a franchisee for a while, you should still speak to as many other existing franchisees as possible as part of your research. This will give you a rounded and honest view of the franchise and the franchisor. Good franchisors should have nothing to hide and will encourage you to contact franchisees from within the network. However, if the franchisor won’t give you the contact information of franchisees when you request them or attempts to cherry pick the franchisees that you speak to, you should proceed with caution.
4.Attend a Discovery Day
As part of the franchisee recruitment process, it’s likely that you’ll be invited to attend a Discovery Day. This is an event organised by the franchisor and tends to be held at the franchise’s head office. Attending the Discovery Day will give you access to a lot of valuable franchise information. Not only will you get to meet the franchisor and their support team face to face but you’ll also get to experience the culture within the franchise. This is something that you can’t learn about through online research and can have a significant impact on your decision about whether you’ve found the franchise that’s right for you.
5.Go to a franchise exhibition.
By attending a franchise exhibition, you’ll get to find out lots of information about the franchise business model from industry experts. Although this may not be as powerful as spending time working in a franchise or shadowing a franchisee, you’ll get to attend lots of seminars, workshops, and presentations about everything to do with franchising. There are five exhibitions held in the UK each year that are accredited by the British Franchise Association which are free to attend. This means that you get to meet with franchisors, franchisees and industry experts who can answer any questions that you may have.