How Long Does it Take to Buy a Franchise From Start to Finish?

Buying a franchise is a great option for aspiring business owners who don’t want to start from scratch. If you’re thinking about franchise ownership, you might be wondering how long it takes to start one from the initial inquiry to the opening day. It’s impossible to give an exact amount of time because there are too many variables. However, the fastest possible scenario for a franchise with streamlined processes is 3-6 months while a more extended timeline is more than a year. Let’s explore the various factors and outline what a typical timeline would look like.    

3 Factors That Can Affect Opening Time 

The time it takes to buy a franchise will depend on each franchise and the individual purchasing it. Franchises have different systems and location requirements, which will affect the time it takes to get up and running. Additionally, not everyone is ready to buy one at the time of inquiry, making the process longer for some and shorter for others. 

#1 – Franchise Processes 

Franchise training programs are generally designed to provide new franchisees with the knowledge and skills they need to successfully operate their franchise. Training covers topics such as product or service knowledge, operations, marketing, customer service, and any specific processes or systems unique to the franchise. Some franchise training programs may last only a few days, while others can extend for several weeks or even months.

Each franchise will also have a different site selection and approval process, some being more streamlined and efficient, while others may have a more thorough and time-consuming approach. Other factors that will affect this timeline include: market research, location availability, negotiations, and zoning and permits. 

There are several legal and contractual requirements associated with buying a franchise, which is why it’s important to hire a franchise attorney to help you navigate the process. However, because each franchise is different, these legalities will affect the timeline for purchasing a franchise. Components include: negotiating and agreeing to the franchise agreement, conducting legal and financial due diligence, trademark and branding compliance, and more. 

#2 – Location Considerations 

Whether a franchise is going to be located in an urban or rural setting will also affect the opening time. For example, urban areas have a higher population density, which could increase the competition for prime locations. They will also likely have more extensive zoning regulations and permitting processes. In an urban area, market research and analysis will take more time because of the diverse population. Furthermore, real estate tends to be more expensive in urban areas, which could add time to lease negotiations and finalizing agreements. All of these factors will increase the time it takes to find a location in an urban setting. Conversely, it might be a little faster to find a location in a rural setting due to less competition, fewer regulations, a small local community, and lower costs. 

#3 – Franchisee Preparedness 

The more financially prepared an aspiring franchisee is to buy a franchise, the faster the process will go. Steps that will move more quickly if the franchisee is financially ready include: 

  • Site selection and lease negotiations
  • Funding and capital acquisition (such as an SBA loan or other financing opportunity)
  • Franchise fee payment 
  • Construction and location build-out
  • Working capital 
  • Training and staffing
  • Compliance with franchise financial requirements (such as net worth and liquid capital requirements) 
  • Resources for risk mitigation 
  • Hiring professional advisors to increase efficiency 

In addition, a franchisee can be prepared with industry knowledge and experience to help the process for opening the franchise go faster. Reason for this include: 

  • Faster learning curve
  • Efficient decision-making
  • Streamlined site selection
  • Effective marketing strategies 
  • Existing supplier relationships 
  • Regulatory compliance 
  • Efficient staff training 
  • Operational know-how 
  • Ability to mitigate risks  
  • Effective communication with the franchisor 

A Typical Timeline for Buying a Franchise

While the timeline for opening a franchise will vary with each situation, the following is the general order of events when buying a franchise: 

  • Initial inquiry and research – This stage involves exploring franchise options, attending discovery days, and gathering information. This step can take anywhere from two to five months before making a decision. (Check out this video for an explanation). 
  • Application and approval process – This process involves submitting documentation, financial information, and potentially undergoing interviews.
  • Site selection and negotiation – This part includes finding a suitable location, negotiating lease terms, and obtaining necessary approvals.
  • Legal documentation and contracts – The legal process involves reviewing the franchise agreement and other legal documents.
  • Training programs – Training often covers operations, marketing, and other relevant aspects. The timeline of this step depends on the complexity of the business and the franchisor’s training requirements. 
  • Build-out and construction – Timeline factors include obtaining permits and coordinating with contractors. 
  • Marketing and pre-opening activities – The process here includes marketing, hiring staff, and creating awareness in the local community. 
  • Grand opening – This is a one-day event marking the official launch of the franchise.

Besides the grand opening, which happens on a single day, each step above can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months depending on the factors listed. 

Interested in Buying a Franchise Brand? 

Are you thinking about buying a franchise? FranNet can help you get started. Our expert franchise consultants will not only work with you to find the right franchise to partner with, but they will guide you through the process from start to finish. You will get the resources and support you need to make an informed decision. At no cost to you, we will help you achieve the dream of business ownership. Schedule your free consultation today! 

Nov 28, 2023