Imagine you are sitting at your computer and you have finally realized that you’re ready to become a business owner instead of an employee. You like following systems, and the feeling of having a support system around you, and you also are not a huge fan of reinventing the wheel. Because of this, you have decided to purchase a franchise.
At this point you may feel like you haven’t accomplished much at all, but making this decision is a huge step. So, now where do you go from here? There is a lot of research to do, and a number of questions to ask. Here are some very important questions to ask yourself, the potential franchisor of your choice, and the already established franchisees.
- What kind of franchise do you want to purchase?
This is one for you to ask yourself as you begin your research. The most common choice when it comes to franchising is the food industry. There are many franchising opportunities in this industry, and these franchises often have multiple locations within a short radius of another franchise location. A less popular choice (but not a bad one) is the trades industry. When franchising in the trades industry, service areas are likely to be much larger than that of a food chain. You will be the only franchise division within a large radius. The trades franchising industry is a new and unsaturated market and it is important to consider that the need for home repair, renovations, and upgrades will always be in demand. A lot of research will go into this question and it is important to weigh all your options before making this decision. Once you have decided what industry you would like to be in, you can move on to more specific questions and research.
- Where will my franchise division be located?
When considering location, the type of franchise you choose will play a large role in this. As mentioned above, a trades franchise location and service area will look much different than a food franchising location and storefront looks. For The Brothers that just do Gutters, our territories are established based on the number of owner occupied dwellings within a service area. Our service areas are large and based on 250,000-400,000 owner occupied residences, whereas, a restaurant storefront placement may simply be based on local traffic within this area. It is also not uncommon to have another franchise location within close range to yours, as storefronts do not have service areas.
- Who is my competition in this area?
When deciding on location of your new franchise, determining the competition in the areas you are thinking about is a huge factor in determining if the location is your best option. Is there an over population of restaurants in this area? If you are opening a niche food franchise like frozen yogurt is there a very popular competitor nearby? If you are thinking about a handy man franchise are there others within the same service area, and if there are how is their reputation? If you are interested in a niche trades franchise like The Brothers that just do Gutters, are their other gutter only contractors in the area, or are there only general contractor companies offering gutter services as one of their products? Researching your competition plays an extremely important role in choosing your location because it helps you to know how to distinguish yourself from the competition. In the trades (especially a niche trades), competition research is practically important and differs from the saturated food market depending more on reputation, services provided, and service area.
- What kind of support is provided to franchisees by the franchisor?
When you think that you may have a couple of potential franchises in mind, now is the time to delve deeper into the particular franchise’s systems, especially the support offered by the franchisor. When making such a big decision and investment like purchasing a franchise, support from the franchisor is critical. How is their training process? What does their business system look like? If there are any issues with your location will the franchisor be there for support, how will they help? These questions are very important to ask the franchisor when you are seriously considering purchasing a franchise division from them. As a franchisee you will need support along the way, and when you decided to purchase a franchise instead of starting a business from the ground up, having a system to follow and support throughout the process from established business owners with a reputable reputation was one of the pros, so it is important to make sure your franchise choice offers this.
“Ryan and Ken gave me the knowledge and support needed to push me forward. This support made such a difference and the business really came into its own with their help. They stepped up to the plate and were, and are more than willing to sacrifice their time to see me succeed in the business.” – Jonathan Mellett (NJ Franchisee)
- What’s different about the franchisor/other franchisees’ days, as an owner, once established?
As you are getting closer to deciding on the franchise you want to purchase, you’ll want to begin contacting other franchisees, as well, to hear about their experience and ask them questions. A common goal for those interested in becoming business owners is to eventually be able to replace themselves within that business as workers and strictly become an owner. It is important to ask other franchisees and the franchisor how their days and lifestyles, as owners, have changed once they become established in their business. How have their tasks changed? Have they been able to replace themselves and create a more flexible schedule for themselves, and if so how long did it take? At The Brothers that just do Gutters, franchisors Ken and Ryan Parsons, have fully replaced themselves within their business with systems and workers. This has allowed them to focus most of their time on their franchisees and franchising in general. They are able to enjoy a flexible schedule and lifestyle involving their families and free time, outside of work. This is their goal for each and every one of their franchisees as well. They believe that by following the business system they have laid out, and tested, each franchisee can get to a point where they too replace themselves and enjoy the flexibility and free time of their schedule as a true business owner.
- What should a franchisee expect in revenue on average in 1 year, 3 years and 5 years in business?
This is an important question to ask when seriously considering purchasing a franchise as this will determine your ROI, and help plan the future of your business. Most franchisors will have these financials laid out for you and a plan on how to get you to these numbers. Of course there are a number of factors that can effect revenue, and no owner or franchise location is exactly the same, but an average is helpful in determining whether this franchise is the right choice for you.
- What’s the best part of owning this franchise?
When you have reached a point in your research where you have limited your decision down to just a couple of franchise options, speaking with the franchisees about why they chose, and why they love owning this franchise, may help you to seal the deal on which of your final choices is right for you. Asking established franchisees what the best part is for them about owning this franchise can really help you get a feel for how they are treated as franchisees, and how smooth the franchise system is. At this point you may also learn from franchisees that this particular franchise model could use some work and it may not be the best choice at this time. Existing franchisees were once in your exact place and shoes, and they are often the best people to get feedback from in reference to the experience, and opportunity one franchising with this company.
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