Posted on December 10th, 2013 7 comments
That’s how I began to sum up a recent meeting with a husband and wife who met with me to explore the option of buying a franchise. In this case, the wife already operates a successful business in a “personal care” industry.
She bought the business about four years ago, keeps it open 7 days a week, 10 hours a day, and is essentially maxed out. “Some days,” she said, “customers are standing in line even when I close the salon.” Recently, she was contacted by a franchisor in Dubai who suggested that she convert her business to his franchise network.
My question: Why?
Chances are, she knows as much as the franchisor knows. Why would she “convert” her independent shop to a franchise and start paying a royalty on her gross sales?
- For brand identity? Well, yea, that’s a good reason to buy a franchise, but she doesn’t need brand identity. Her business is maxed out!
- For the franchisor’s system? Well, yea, that’s a good reason to buy a franchise, but her system already works. As she told me, “It took me about eighteen months to figure out how to succeed at the business, but now it’s going great.” Why does she need a new system?
- For buying power? Well, yea, maybe, because a franchise network should be able to buy products and equipment for less money than can an independent, but even so, is it worth converting her independent salon to a franchise that will require her to pay a royalty, and perhaps incur other costs? First she’d have to figure out how much money she’d save with the franchisor’s buying power. My guess: Not enough to offset the royalty.
My suggestion: Franchise!
“I want to expand my business, and that’s why I thought it would be a good idea to buy the franchise for Kuwait,” the lady explained.
I replied, “But you may already have a better system than the franchisor’s. Why not franchise your system? Or why not simply open more salons using your system? You would own the salons 100 percent and not pay royalties, or any other fees.”
She was surprised because, after all, I promote franchising. But actually, I promote the development of satisfying and profitable businesses, franchised or not.
I think this lady could make a good franchisee, but given her background and experience, and given her desires, I think she also could make a good franchisor. “If you had a few days, could you write an operations manual for your salon? In other words, could you write down everything that needs to be done daily or weekly, monthly or quarterly to operate your business successfully? And could you also identify how to advertise to bring in customers, and how to treat customers?”
“Yes,” she said.
“Okay, that’s still not enough. A franchisor has numerous other challenges to overcome, but you’re off to a good start. It’s also important that you have the right personality to be a franchisor. Is it more important to you to operate your salon, or more important to replicate your business and train and support others to operate your franchises?”
Well, she hadn’t thought about all of that and we parted with me giving her a laundry list of things to consider. Sometimes, it just doesn’t make sense to buy a franchise, and I think this is one such case.
Posted on November 14th, 2013 No comments
Rita’s Water Ice is one of my favorite American franchises. It’s headquartered in Philadelphia, the greatest city in the world, and it’s perfect for Kuwait and the Middle East. Rita’s serves authentic Italian water ice — cool and refreshing, a favorite treat for children and adults — it can be low-cal, too, but we usually don’t want it that way! I don’t know why it’s not already in Kuwait, given that this is a “hot” franchise market, but I was pleased to see Rita’s marketing itself and looking for prospects who want to buy franchises at the Abu Dhabi Franchise Conference. Can’t be long until we can enjoy Rita’s locally!
Posted on November 14th, 2013 No comments
Posted on November 9th, 2013 8 comments
For the last 30 years I’ve asked my audiences (mostly prospective franchisees) the same question: “What’s wrong with franchising?” And through the years thousands of people have told me that the Franchise Fee is too expensive. Today I’m starting a series of arguments about the Franchise Fee. From time to time I’ll update this topic. Look for other argument series about other topics in this blog.
Typical Franchise Fees
Franchise fees typically range from $10,000 (rarely less) to $50,000 (sometimes more) and they are paid in a lump sum to the franchisor at the time of signing the franchise agreement. Prospective franchises often complain that the fee is too expensive. From the get go I’ll agree: Some franchise companies charge inflated franchise fees and you should avoid them. But most of the franchisors I’ve assisted through the years — especially the most credible franchisors — require very reasonable franchise fees. In fact, many franchisors should increase their fees, but they’re afraid to because they would exceed the typical range.
Before you come to any conclusions about the amount of the franchise fee, I encourage you to consider several points of view, as well as the facts surrounding franchise fees. And rather than tell you everything that’s important to know about franchise fees in one article, I’m going to share my ideas one at a time. Over a period of time I’ll write a dozen, maybe more, “arguments” about the franchise fee and after you’ve read them you may see things the way I do.
No Franchises Sold Here!
By the way, it’s never my intention to get you to agree with me so that you will buy a franchise. Whether you buy a franchise or not matters not to me — at least not financially. I don’t sell franchises. That separates me from most of the people who write franchise blogs. Of course, it would matter to me if you bought a franchise and you were not a good fit for franchising, or if you passed on buying a franchise because you didn’t understand something relative to franchising. I’m an educator first and foremost, and I do not get paid for convincing people to buy franchises. I get paid for speaking, training, coaching, and writing books (sometimes articles) that provide honest, credible and objective information about franchising so that my audiences can make informed and wise decisions.
So when a prospective franchisee says the franchise fee is too much money, I want to know: Compared to what?
Sometimes the prospect will say, “Compared to what it would cost me to start the same kind of business on my own.” Fair enough. In fact, many franchisors started their original business for less than they now charge for the franchise fee. One of my books includes stories about numerous franchisors (i.e. Two Men & A Truck, Little Caesar’s Pizza, Jani King, etc.) that started their businesses for less than $10,000.
Keep Comparisons Fair
But franchisors are not selling a “similar” kind of business. Franchisors are selling a specific brand identity, with a brand promise (that may or may not be valuable), plus training and support, and an operating plan for developing a successful business. Yes, you could start a pizza or cookie or plumbing business, etc. for a small amount of money — probably less than $10,000 even today — but it won’t be part of a franchise network and it won’t come with the intellectual property already explored, tested and certified.
Don’t confuse starting a business from scratch from buying a franchise business that comes with bells and whistles. To get your own bells and whistles you’ll need to do a lot of huffing and puffing, and possibly spend several hundred thousands of dollars (or more) as you test your ideas and figure out how to make your business prosper. Maybe it makes sense to pay a fee to learn from someone else’s huffing and puffing. It’s an expensive proposition to develop your own concept. On the other hand, you might develop the next McDonald’s!
Posted on October 26th, 2013 16 comments
A question franchise buyers frequently ask at my How to Buy a Franchise seminars goes like this: “If I buy a franchise where I’m one of the first franchisees in the system, is that the kind of franchise to buy? Should I be concerned about owning a franchise when there aren’t many other franchisees connected to the brand?”
It’s an important question relative to how to buy a franchise and I answer it with this true story.
One Monday afternoon a new franchisee in Kansas telephoned his franchisor in Dallas and said, “I need help. Either your franchise doesn’t work, or I’ve got a problem. I cannot close any deals and I am ready to quit.”
“What are you doing Thursday morning?” the franchisor asked. He was also the founder of the franchise company.
“I’ve got sales appointments set for that day, but I don’t know that I’ll be able to do any good with them. . . . Why?”
How many franchisors will do this?
“Can you pick me up at the airport at 9 in the morning? I’ll go on those sales appointments with you and we’ll figure out what’s going on.”
“Wait a minute,” said the franchisee. “Are you saying you are flying here to see me?”
“Why, you don’t want me to?” asked the franchisor.
“Sure. But I didn’t expect you to do that. I thought maybe you could tell me over the phone how to solve my problem. Or maybe I should just sell the franchise.”
The franchisor laughed. “If you’ve got a problem, it’s my problem, too. I’ll send you an email in about an hour to give you my itinerary. In the meantime, don’t sell the franchise and don’t worry. Oh, one other thing. See if you can set up several more appointments.”
Small Franchise Advantage
That story explains what may be the greatest advantage of buying a franchise from a franchisor who has sold only a small number (under 50) of franchises. That kind of franchisor, providing he or she is honest (they’re not all honest), remains accessible to franchisees and will help solve problems even if it means visiting the franchisee.
I can vouch for this story because the franchisor was my client (the late Ken D’Angelo, founder of HomeVestors, which was one of America’s most viable franchise ventures until the real estate bubble burst several years ago. I was CEO of the company at that time.) Ken invited me to join him on this journey to Kansas City and I watched as the master worked.
The master at work
Once we landed in Kansas we didn’t stop until early evening. The franchisee had set up six sales calls – his goal was to buy houses at a discount – and we accompanied him on each call. For the first two calls, we watched. Then we went to lunch and Ken evaluated the franchisee’s performance. He recalled each question that the sellers had asked the franchisee and reminded the franchisee of how he responded to each question. And then Ken reconstructed the calls and showed the franchisee what he would have done had they been his sales calls.
He bought two houses!
We went on the next two sales calls and Ken bought two houses. The franchisee was amazed (I was, too), but Ken didn’t seem surprised. (On our way home the next morning he told me he got lucky, but Ken was one of the most humble franchisors ever). The franchisee handled the next two calls on his own and didn’t buy a house, but he demonstrated greater confidence. As it turned out, one of the sellers called him three days later and he got the sale. I don’t remember what happened to the other opportunity and it didn’t matter. By this time, this franchisee was re-energized and he became a productive member of the HomeVestors’ network.
Of course, it wouldn’t have happened had Ken not picked up his phone that Monday. That’s one of the other good things about small-network franchisors. They have more time than money, and Ken couldn’t afford to hire someone to answer his phone for him! He also couldn’t afford to send a field trainer in his place. Ken was eager to go on these calls himself because he always wanted to know how he could improve his franchise system.
A franchise to buy
Yes, you should be concerned about buying a franchise that not many other franchisees have purchased . . . on the other hand, if you can find a franchise concept that you love, one that may even be “hot,” and a franchisor who you know will place your best interests before his own, you can be a little less concerned.
Posted on September 7th, 2013 No comments
Asking 101 questions before you invest in a franchise sounds like a lot of work, doesn’t it? The good news is that you don’t have to ask 101 questions — however, you do need to ask the right questions before you invest in a franchise, and many people simply do not know what to ask. In this e-booklet I’ve listed important questions to be asked of franchisors, franchisees, professional advisors and even franchise suppliers. There could be more than 101 questions to ask — if you have a question that I missed, please let me know — but these questions will help you think about franchising in advance of making a decision, and you’ll know who to ask to help you make a decision.
Looking for reviewers! I just posted this book and it’s had no reviewers — will you be the first?
Posted on August 26th, 2013 No comments“The reason so many of these franchises fail is because the franchisees think they get business automatically and they don’t know how to develop good relationships,” said the marketer.
“Not only that,” responded the plumber, who was not a franchisee, “they don’t know the numbers. They hire a lot of people and fall under that weight. They think they’re making money, but they’re not.”Excellent lessonsWow. Two excellent lessons in how to succeed in franchising — free, at Starbucks!It’s almost amazing that anyone succeeds in franchising simply because there are so many things to know not only about franchising, but about yourself if you’re the franchisee, and then how to operate the business. When you consider that people buy a franchise and go to the franchisor’s training program for a couple of weeks, or three, and then launch their business, real time, it’s surprising that more do not fail. How do you learn everything there is to know in such a short time frame? And what if you forget a step or two in the business building process?
Good franchisors know the answers to those questions and challenges.Proper support helpsI don’t know how many franchisees fail because they don’t know the numbers, or because they think they will get business automatically. But it’s a shame that any franchisee fails for those reasons. Good franchisors work hard to make sure these scenarios do not occur. With the proper support, a franchisor can know what a franchisee thinks — at least most of the time.
If you’re buying a franchise, investigate and evaluate the franchisor’s support. It could save your business, your money, and your well being mentally and physically.
What else should you evaluate when you consider buying a franchise? You’ll find a practical checklist in the Amazon best selling ebook Buy “Hot” Franchises Without Getting Burned.
Posted on August 25th, 2013 No comments
Posted on August 23rd, 2013 No comments
It probably shouldn’t be your #1 priority for buying a franchise, but buying one to learn what not to do in business isn’t a bad idea!
I had a favorite cousin who would have been better off buying a pizza franchise than starting her own pizza business. I said “had” because she’s now deceased, and part of her demise was due to the stress of trying to figure out how to operate her business successfully. Ultimately she lost her money, her marriage, and her life.
Do people want the best pizza?
The problem began when she baked a pizza and people told her how good it was. “This is the best pizza! You should be in the pizza business!” She heard that time after time after time. “This is better than any pizza on the market today.”
No doubt those statements were true, but what makes people think that consumers care about buying “the best” product? Do consumers really want “the best” pizza? “The best” cookies? “The best” hamburgers? “The best” food in general? Do consumers demand “the best” of any product or service? Consumers make buying decisions for many reasons, and “the best” isn’t usually one of them.
Even if consumers were to buy only “the best” there’s more to operating a business than providing a product or service. The most difficult task for most small business owners, including franchisees, is getting business — that is, creating buyers and customers, meeting their needs, and enticing them to return time and again.
A few questions to consider
My cousin discovered there was a lot she needed to know about operating her business. How many slices of pepperoni do you put on a large pizza and still keep it profitable and satisfying to the customer? How do you deliver pizza — or if you don’t deliver pizza, how many sales do you lose? What’s the cost to delivering pizza — do you need insurance for the drivers? And how do you figure out how many drivers you need and where to send them? How far can you travel to deliver a pizza and still earn a profit? Where do you advertise for customers? How often? What do you say in your ads to attract customers? . . . These are just a few of the questions that my cousin couldn’t answer. Neither could her friends who encouraged her to get into business.
When it came to making a great tasting pizza, no one could do that better than my cousin. When it came to making key decisions about the operation of her business, decisions that had nothing to do with pizza, no one could do that better than a pizza franchisor. With the right franchisor my cousin would have learned how to build a satisfying and profitable business, and she would have avoided everything not to do. Of course, she wouldn’t have been able to sell her pizza, and that’s probably what stopped her from considering a franchise, unfortunately.
Be careful if someone tells you that you make “the best” this or that and you should be in business . . . unless you know how to market it, sell it, and deliver it, you’re probably going to make too many costly mistakes simply because you don’t know what not to do. A good franchisor knows.
Watch these pages for updates about Buy “Hot” Franchises Without Getting Burned — soon to be an Amazon.com ebook.
Posted on August 22nd, 2013 No comments
People often ask me, “Why should I buy a franchise?” and I’m often too quick to respond, “You probably shouldn’t.”
They think my response is sarcastic or rude, when in fact it’s just honest. Even though franchising overall is the safest way for people to start their own business most people should not buy a franchise. Franchising is not for everyone. It’s definitely not for most people.
That said, I think there are many good reasons why people should buy a franchise, especially now. Building a business is never easy, but it could be easier with help from a successful franchisor. However, only you can decide if it makes sense for you to buy a franchise. Here are 9 good reasons that may help you decide:
9 Reasons For Buying A Franchise
- A recognized name and logo. It helps if your prospective customers already know who you are and what you sell. Chances are good that someone suggested they buy your product or service.
- A proven operating system. Someone has figured out how to run the business successfully, that is, profitably, and in a fashion that the owner/operator finds satisfying. There’s tremendous value in not having to re-invent the wheel.
- Marketing and sales systems. Good franchisors solve the marketing problem (or at least the better part of it) for franchisees. You just need to be sure the franchisor’s marketing systems work!
- Capital investment that may be less than starting a similar business independently. By the time you come up with an idea, test it, develop the operating-marketing-sales systems, hire people, find a location, source equipment, etc. you can save yourself a lot of time and trouble by investing in a franchise.
- Financial assistance. Some franchisors loan money to franchisees, or they can help qualified prospects find lenders.
- Training and Support. Ask yourself this question: “How valuable is it to have someone teach me how to operate this business successfully? And to have them hold my hand, answer my questions, and guide me through the start up?” If the franchisor’s training is effective, it may be worth far more than the franchise fee.
- Ongoing Training and Support. A franchisor’s ongoing training and support saves you from experimenting to figure out how to resolve challenges.
- Research & Development. Part of a franchisor’s responsibility is to look down the road to the future development of the business and to create or acquire appropriate new products and services, and teach the franchisees how to market and sell those new products and services. There’s tremendous value in this advantage alone.
- You are one of many. There are benefits to belonging to a network of like-minded individuals and business owners.
If franchising makes sense for you, it may be your ticket to the American Dream. But only you can make the decision. Start by doing your homework. Then select a franchisor that provides at least these 9 good reasons and more to join them!
Amazon.com will soon feature the ebook Buy “Hot” Franchises Without Getting Burned . . . watch this site for updates.
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