How to choose a franchise

Franchising has many advantages, not least of which is that all the branding, marketing and products are already in place

Buying a franchise is a model that is often preferred to outright business ownership. It has many advantages, not least of which is that all the branding, marketing and products are already in place.

Buying a franchise frequently appeals to those looking for an environment with more freedom and flexibility than offered by regular employment. Equally, because of the brand awareness and trading background, as well as the ongoing support offered to new franchisees, this route also offers a degree of certainty and security.

So if you have decided that buying a franchise is a good option for you, how do you go about choosing which one?

1. Consider your skills and experience

Buying a franchise is a big step and not one that you should take lightly. It can certainly help if you have skills and experience in a certain field and know what kind of franchise you are looking for.

As well as specific experience and interests, you may also want to consider general factors, such as your strengths and weaknesses, and whether you want to work primarily alone or with others.

2. Think about the demand and competition within your field

Consider how much demand there is in the local area for the product or service. This ties in with how much competition there is. If demand is saturated, either because there isn’t much in the first place or because many other places offer the same products or services, then there may not be a big enough customer base for your franchise to be viable.

3. Assess your budget and finance options

This is, of course, a key consideration. You need to be looking around for finance options before you express an interest in a franchise and you need to have a good idea of how much money you can invest.

4. Think about lifestyle factors

These include factors such as relocating and work hours. Are you prepared to relocate for the right franchise? It could be an opportunity to make a fresh start in another area, but equally many people want to remain closer to home because of family or other commitments.

As a franchisee, you’ll want to make sure that your lifestyle and culture fits the brand, as much as the brand fitting you. This will be one of the important steps when selling yourself to the franchisor.

You’ll also need to consider what kind of work hours you’re prepared to put in, both while the business is being set up and after it is established.

5. Judge the franchise on its name and potential

Think about the franchise. Is it a name that people easily recognise? What kind of reputation does it have? A well-known name is likely to attract more customers than an unknown business, which can give you an advantage from the start.

But you also need to think about how long the company has been in business, and whether it has a solid business model for the future or is a passing fad that could run into trouble in the years to come.

6. Weigh up the training and support on offer

Franchisors typically offer a good level of training and support to their franchisees. After all, they want your business to be successful too as this will feed back to them. But there are no guarantees, so be firm and assess whether they do indeed offer a thorough level of training and guidance for you and your staff.

7. Network and research

Talk to people in the business to see what they think about the franchise. Where possible, this should include current or past owners of the franchise you’re thinking about buying, as their opinions and experiences will provide invaluable inside information. They might be biased, of course, so look for third party evaluations too.

Next essential read: How to sell yourself to a franchisor.

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