How Long Does Opening a Franchise Actually Take?


Buying a franchise can be a great way to open a business without starting from scratch. If you’re exploring franchise opportunities, one of the questions you probably have is about timing. While franchising can streamline the process, opening a franchise business still takes some time, plus a good deal of work. Let’s walk through the different phases and how long each phase takes.

Choosing Your Brand

Phase one is choosing the industry you want to be in and franchise brand you believe will give you the success you want. This phase is labor and time-intensive, but if you put forth a focused effort doing 10 to 15 hours of research per week and get qualified help from experienced franchise consultants and franchise attorneys to guide you, it’s very feasible to choose the right franchise brand in 60-90 days.

To make sure that you’re making an informed decision, I highly encourage exploring multiple options. Look into different industries, including ones that are different from your corporate job or prior business experience. Consider younger emerging brands as well as more seasoned brands that have endured for many years. Young and mature franchise brands both provide benefits; those benefits are different so compare to decide which is the overall best opportunity for you. A successful phase one involves choosing the brand that fits you best through a careful elimination process. (FACT – most people are surprised by what they are most excited about; it’s usually a franchise brand that’s not related to their prior work experience nor something they considered before.)

Opening the Business

Once you’ve chosen your franchise brand and signed your franchise agreement you move into phase two. In this getting the business open phase, there’s a big x-factor impacting how much time it will take you to open your doors and start generating revenue – real estate.

In some industries such as restaurants, fitness, and haircare, phase two involves choosing a prime location as part of your success strategy. This may take at least six months from the time you sign your franchise agreement until you can fully operate your business if it all goes smoothly. In many models, the expectation is more like 9 – 12 months.

In other industries, retail or office space is not necessary. This is true for home-based or mobile franchise businesses, such as business consulting, pest control, and home improvement services. In these types of franchise businesses, you typically have only four to eight weeks after you sign the franchise agreement and go into training before you can fully operate and generate revenue.

Timing is Everything

What I suggest you consider the most are two points. One potential time pressure point you might face is candidate competition. Strong franchise brands actively recruit franchisees in hot markets like Atlanta, Nashville, Charlotte, Houston and Denver. It’s likely that a brand you are interested in is also talking with other potential franchisees interested in the same neighborhoods as you are. There’s only so many licenses in a market that a brand will award, so there comes a period where they stop accepting new franchisees. At that point, the prime areas are claimed for development by the early adopters.

The second point to consider is the actual availability of the brand in your area. Just because you’re not seeing a particular franchise brand open near you doesn’t mean it’s available for development. Your neighborhood may be a part of an existing franchisee’s development agreement. The best step is to reach out to the franchisor and make sure they’re open for growth in your area of interest before spending hours doing research. This way you won’t waste time and effort looking into a brand that was never available in the first place.

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Jan 18, 2022