Franchising: How to choose a business and get started

Franchising can be a rewarding experience, but first you must make sure it is for you and choose a franchise you will enjoy running, writes Puddle Ducks’ Tracy Townend.

Is franchising for you?

Becoming a franchisee is an exciting business venture that many people in Britain take on every year (in 2015, research carried out by the British Franchise Association tells us that there are 44,200 franchise outlets in the UK, covering 901 different franchise brands).

It can be a highly profitable and successful move, with 97 per cent of franchises making a profit, and it can be lots of fun too. But is it the right option for you?

Despite the advantages that come with being a franchisee, it’s a lot of hard work and it takes a lot of perseverance to achieve the successes you aim for.

 Can you afford to set up the franchise?

First things first, be sure that you can afford to set up your franchise. If you’re looking to get a bank loan or any other form of finance that you might need to set up your business, being part of a franchise is a great place to start.

Because you’re already working as part of a successful business model, you will have the support of a large company and the backing of a big brand, so you are more likely to secure finance than an independent start-up business would.

Several of the big banks have dedicated franchising teams who are experts in the industry and understand the criteria for lending.

Although it is easier to secure finance for a franchise business, you still need to make sure that you’ve got all of your bases covered. Depending on the size of the investment, it can be a while before a new franchise business turns a profit.

So aside from start-up costs, check that you also have the money to support yourself and the business for a year – or perhaps even longer – until you find your feet.

Is it the right franchise for you?

There are many franchises that you can be a part of, but it’s important you choose one that’s genuinely right for you. Think about your interests, what you enjoy doing in your spare time and what you’re really passionate about. You may be working in this field for decades to come, so pick something that will inspire you every day.

Another way of understanding whether the franchise you have in mind is the right one for you is by talking to other franchisees in your chosen business. A good franchisor will be happy to put you in touch with others in the network.

Try to find out about their individual experiences. Did they get enough support from the main company? How was their first year? Do they have any advice for you? There is no substitute to hearing it straight from the horse’s mouth!

Will you enjoy being a franchisee?

The best part of being a franchisee is that you will become part of an established company that has a support network and a business model that has been proven to work.

But at the same time, you will need to put the same amount of effort in that you would put into any new start-up. A hands-on, dedicated approach is needed to make a franchise a success, so only venture into franchising if you know that you already have the time and dedication needed to make it a success.

Also, understand what type of franchise you are buying into. Some franchises are modelled for you to work in the business either by yourself or with a small team, while others are what we call management franchises and while you will start off small, the aim is for you to out of the day to day and managing a team as soon as possible.

Is it the right time to start franchising?

There is plenty to think about when it comes to franchising and deciding if it is the right path for you. Whether you have decided to go ahead and begin your own franchise or you are still unsure about it all, read the Essential Guide to Becoming a Franchisee and you will have all the information you need.

Tracy Townend is a co-founder of Puddle Ducks, a franchising business that now has 32 franchises across the UK, teaching approximately 18,000 children to swim every week.

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