What is it that drives so many Canadians to decide that buying a business is the next logical step in their working career? The pursuit of a life-long dream to be their own boss? The opportunity to enjoy the direct benefit of their hard work? A chance to release that inner marketing guru? While any or all of the above may be sufficient lure, entrepreneurship is not for the faint-of-heart. A start-up business can quickly turn into a very hard slog that ends in the decision to shut up shop for any number of reasons, including financial hardship and long hours for little gain.
It’s no wonder that many who explore small business options decide to skip the learning lessons that accompany the go-it-alone operation and move straight to exploring franchise opportunities. One of the biggest benefits is that as a franchisee, you are backed by an organization that is heavily vested in your success and is prepared to set you up with a proven business model, training and product knowledge, networking opportunities, as well as advertising expertise and marketing collateral.
Perfect, right? Not so fast! Right off the bat you need to understand that not all franchises are created equal in terms of size and scale. The level of support will vary from one organization to the other, and it’s important you understand where their help ends and where you have to start picking up the slack. Here are some questions you need to have answered prior to signing on the dotted line.
The Right Site
Is your new franchise already in operation? If not, has the site been pre-selected by the franchisor or are you expected to find the site and negotiate the lease? Understand the term “location, location, location” applies to more than just residential real estate. If your business is to survive and thrive, you need to ensure you are sitting in the best location for your type of service. Typically the franchisor will have invested the time and finances to research top spots but if not, their expertise will be critical to making the right decision. They should be actively guiding you in finding the best location as well as coaching you on how to negotiate your lease.
Marketing and Advertising
What kind of support does the franchisor provide in terms of marketing and advertising? Franchisees typically contribute financially to a regional or national advertising fund in support of brand activities. At the local level, what is available to you? This might include radio, TV, print or on-line advertising, PR campaigns or customized promotional collateral.
How extensive is the training. Typically training is held at either the franchise or the head office and is designed to ensure you have a complete understanding of the operational side of the business. This includes procedures, standards and guidelines, records management, hiring the right employees, as well as how to gain your fair share of the market. Depending on the size of the organization, training could last a few days or a few weeks and may be conducted by the franchisor or an outside organization. Whatever method is used it cannot be rushed and needs to respect that “information overload” can overwhelm the most enthusiastic franchisee. It should have a logical flow, provide plenty of time for Q&A, and offer a one-on-one approach to learning those tricky financials.
When you are up and operating, does the franchisor offer an efficient means (dedicated toll free or email address) for you to reach them with questions? Do they provide additional training if systems, processes and procedures are updated? Is there a cost to you?
Annual Conventions and Networking Opportunities
Does your franchisor provide opportunities for their franchisees to gather and network? This can be the perfect chance for you to meet up with your counter-parts and swap best practices, discuss challenges, and support one another. This is also a great time for the franchisor to introduce new products, company updates, motivating speakers, awards, and also deliver high-level training sessions. While smaller organizations may not be ready for a convention-style gathering just yet, don’t discount the value added opportunity this feature provides and weight it accordingly when making your decision.
In your quest to find great Canadian franchise opportunities, your hard work will pay off. Aside from conducting your own thorough due diligence, having franchising experts in your corner is key. The consultants from FranNet have been providing valuable consultation to potential franchise candidates across Canada. The best thing is that their services are at no cost to the candidate. Take advantage of their expertise and begin your journey towards freedom, independence, and control of your financial future.