Tips for First Time Franchisees

Opening up your own business is an exciting and daunting time, new business owners often feel  overwhelmed at the thought of navigating their way through the countless paperwork, legal documents and contracts. Opening up a new franchise should be an exciting and enjoyable time, to make sure your experience goes smoothly, we’ve compiled a few tips for first time franchisee owners to help you get up and running:

Do your homework

The very first and most important thing you can do before venturing into a new business, is research! You need to do your due diligence to ensure you are making informed decisions before entering into any business contracts. Start by researching how owning and operating a franchise works, and all that is involved with it. You may or may not already have a franchise in mind, either way you should research and find brands that align with your personal values and goals. It is essential you thoroughly research and ask key questions of franchisors. Questions should include:

  • Criteria for accepting new franchisees
  • Initial funds required to open
  • Ongoing fees
  • Companies financial history and current situation
  • Level of initial and ongoing support and resources
  • Expectations of franchise owners

Learn from the ground up

To make a great leader you must have a deep understanding and empathy for your staff experience. Spend a day walking in the shoes of your employees, get involved early and learn how your franchise works from the ground up. You will need to understand the inner workings and processes of your business, so you can run the day to day operation. By working on the ‘front line’ it will give you valuable insights into how your business actually operates, and allows you to test if your systems are working properly.

Seek Guidance & Consult the Experts

Ask the experts, and talk to the people who have experience in the industry. Many people are happy to talk about their experiences and offer advice. This is one of the greatest tools you can utilise before opening your franchise. Start by speaking to people and asking about their experiences and they will offload some valuable insights and knowledge. As well as speaking to experienced franchisees, you will need to seek professional advice. Find yourself a good team of professionals (tax experts, lawyers, advertising agencies etc) to help create a foundation for your business.

Follow your Franchisors Systems

You have chosen to open a franchise, a tried and tested formula with proven success, so it makes sense for you to follow the systems your franchise has in place. Take advantage of all the resources and materials the franchisor provides, making it easier for you to become established and grow your business.

Learn the Basics of Running a Business

For many people who are new to owning businesses, or feel a little nervous they will often opt for a franchise because it is already a proven model, with most things already set up ready to go, minimising their need for business management. If new franchisees rely on this, they will not succeed in their business. It is vital that you learn and understand the basics of running a business. Take the time to learn how the franchise operates, but also take the time to research how businesses work so you can reach the full potential of your new franchise.

How Well Does Your Franchise Network Embrace Change?

When it comes to franchise networks, it is a well-known fact that implementing change can be a tough job. A lot of the problems stem purely from the logistical difficulties faced on both the franchisor and franchisee sides of the business that come with implementing any changes, but another important element is the networks willingness to embrace it.

Whether it be a re-branding activity, a move to a new system or procedure, or the introduction of a new product that requires buying equipment or stock, the process of making change within a franchise business is often met with resistance. Franchisors see that change is necessary and key to a businesses survival and success, however it is often the way they go about implementing such changes that ruffles feathers within the network.

When planning a change to be rolled out across a franchise network, it is vital that each and every franchisee is able to understand the reason behind the decision. Taking on a ‘because we said so’ attitude will be met with resistance everytime, and if franchisors can’t make their case as to how the change will be beneficial to the franchisees business, it will just be seen as an inconvenience.

Conducting a cost versus benefits analysis to detail the impact of the change is a great selling point when it comes to getting franchisees on board, especially if the business owner will be incurring a significant expense. It is important to consider that despite being part of a larger franchise network, many franchise owners likely have a plan in mind for how they see their business growing. Asking them to get on board with an unexpected change may be a strain and misalign with their current plans for themselves and the business, particularly if it effects their time or financial commitments.

Another point that gets raised often when discussing the topic of change within franchise networks, is that franchisors should lead by example. Implementing changes in corporate run stores, or with a select group of eager franchisees is a great strategy to actively show the rest of the partners why the change is needed. This strategy can act as a trial period to eliminate any issues before a network wide roll out, and if all goes well will leave you with a group of franchisees to act as positive ambassadors for the change.

This is the first step towards a collaborative approach that gets all parties involved in the decision making process. Opening the proposed change up to recommendations, questions and comments can help air any grievances and answer any burning questions. Embracing some form of collaborative change process often leaves everyone feeling more settled and open when the time comes. Having been involved from the start removes any element of surprise, and gives the network time to have input.

However, franchisors shouldn’t wait until they want to make a big change, to prepare their franchisees. In any franchise group it is vital that willingness to embrace change is encouraged and embedded in the company culture. This starts with the type of prospects that are recruited into the business and is maintained through building a positive association with change and a high level of trust between the franchisor and franchisees.

When dealing with any large network of franchise partners a unanimous decision is unlikely. But taking these steps to foster a company culture that sees change positively and actively following a collaborative process will make all the difference next time your franchise network faces change.