Franchises are very popular at the moment and more and more people are choosing to buy one as opposed to starting out by setting up their own business.
By purchasing a franchise you are effectively taking advantage of the success of an already established business. As the ‘franchisee’, you are buying a licence to use the name, products, services, and management support systems of the “franchiser” company. This licence normally covers a particular geographical area and runs for a limited time. The downside to a franchise is that you will never actually legally own the business.
As a franchisee, the way you pay for the franchise may be through an initial fee, ongoing management fees, a share of your turnover, or a combination of these depending on how you have set up the franchise.
A franchise business can take different legal forms – most are sole traders, partnerships or limited companies. Whatever the structure, the franchisee’s freedom to manage the business is limited by the terms of the franchise agreement.
For more information about buying a franchise please visit the British Franchise Association website.
Is it worth investing in a Business Franchise?
The simple answer is yes. However, it is important that you follow some careful steps before buying into a Business Franchise.
The good news is that there is information to suggest that the Franchise Business sector is still growing rapidly. During 2007 the Nat West Bank carried out a survey into the UK franchise market which revealed the astonishing financial growth of this sector. The approximate annual turnover of the business franchise sector is in excess of £10.8 billion. What is more interesting to note is that the vast majority of Business franchisees are in profit – a total of 93% to be exact! In 1991 the total number of profitable franchisees was 70% and in 2004 it was 88%. Therefore, this business sector is growing and there is a reason for it.
Why is it growing?
The simple reason is that a Business Franchise is usually tested first before it goes to market. If it works in one area, then there is a very strong chance that it will grow in others. As an example, take a moment to think about popular franchises such as Dominoes or McDonalds. They are literally everywhere, proving the fact that if there is demand in one area of the country, there will be similar demand elsewhere. The reason for this is because generally we are all the same, as people that is and we tend to follow trends. If 100 people like eating Dominoes pizza, then eventually there will be 100,000 that do! It’s simple science but it is worth thinking about when buying a franchise. The only downside to this philosophy is that the more demand there is, the higher the cost of the franchise.
Getting in at the right time.
The most effective way to turn your initial franchise investment into a successful profit is to buy in at the right time. That is, to buy into a franchise in a ‘key’ area and at a time when the franchise is generally unknown to the masses. The benefit of this method is that is a franchise is new and not very well known, the vendor cannot demand a high price for their franchise. The downside to this method is that you, as the franchisee, take the risk that the business as a whole may not grow into a hugely successful business.
Carry out lots of research before you commit.
The first piece of advice, and probably the most important, is not to part with your cash until you are absolutely sure you will see a return on your investment (ROI). Do not, and I repeat, do not part with your cash simply because you are eager to ‘own’ a business. Owning a business may appear to be exciting and a way of impressing your circle of friends, but in reality it is hard work and often difficult to get off the ground. That is why you must carry out plenty of research first before you commit to anything.
You need to also be aware that running a franchise can sometimes be frustrating. As a franchise owner you are doing exactly that – owning a franchise. You do not ‘own’ the entire business but instead you own the rights to use the brand and operating structure and resources. For some, this can be frustrating. As a franchise owner there will be plenty of rules and guidelines to follow, which is why you must make certain this is for you before you commit.
If you buy the franchise, and then a later date decide that it is not for you, then the franchiser could include a clause in the contract that states you must sell the franchise back to them for ‘X’ pounds. After this has happened, what do you think the franchise operator does? Yes that’s right, he sells it to someone else for a handsome profit! So the first thing to do is to make sure you are 100% certain that you will feel comfortable with owning and running a franchise.
The next thing you need to ask yourself is what skills do you have. Remember in the first lesson, ‘The Business Idea’, we asked ourselves 3 important questions:
1. What am I good at?
2. What do I enjoy doing?
3. What are my experiences?
Before you invest in a franchise or choose one you should ask yourself these important questions again. The answer to these questions will help you to determine which is the best franchise for you. For example, if you like working alone and don’t generally enjoy meeting people, then a franchise that involves serving customers is probably not for you. This type of business, where you are engaging face to face with your customers, can be difficult so think carefully about what type of business would best suit you.
Raising the finance to buy your franchise.
Before you decide on what franchise to invest in, you need to first decide how much capital you have to play with. This may sound strange, finding the money before the business, but there is a reason for it. Imagine attending a business franchise seminar or exhibition. You spend all day going round the stalls and stands and set your heart on one particular franchise which costs £20,000 to purchase. You go away and start to see if you can raise this kind of capital, only to realise that there’s not a cat in hells chance of you finding this quantity of money. On the other hand, imagine going to one of these exhibitions knowing exactly how much money you have to play with. Now you are ready to choose the right franchise that is within your budget, something that is very important.
Some banks will lend you the money to buy the franchise depending on the economic climate, your previous track record, your financial standing and of course your business plan. Whilst it is possible to get a good business loan rate, there are better ways to raise the money. The first method is to borrow from friends or family. The reason why this is usually a better way is:
1. The risk is significantly reduced. You will not have to put forward your property as security.
2. They are more likely to accept a longer repayment term and lower repayments.
3. They will not expect a large return for lending you the money.
Whilst all of the above are positive aspects, if you fail to make back any payments that are owed you then you are likely to lose close friends and family and sometimes things can even end up in court.
So, probably the best way to raise the finance is through friends and family, but make sure you proceed with caution!
Richard McMunn, Firefighter for 17 years and a HSBC Award winning E