Tag Archives: hot franchise

Is a Subway Franchise a Good Investment?

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It’s one of the most popular questions for every experienced franchise author/speaker. Perhaps because it’s the largest franchise in the world (in terms of units, not retail sales), people want to know if a Subway franchise is a good investment.

And because many of my readers and seminar attendees know that I wrote Start Small, Finish Big with Subway’s co-founder, and I sold a major franchise business to him, they think I have special insights about Subway. Really, I don’t.

“Is Subway a good franchise investment? . . . Can you help me get one?”

While those are important questions to ask about Subway, they are important questions to ask about any franchise that you think you might want to buy.

In answering the questions, here’s what I tell people.

Subway must be a good franchise investment for some people because many of the franchisees have been with the company since almost its inception, and (now answering the second question) it seems impossible to “get one” in the USA.

Of course, neither answer is really what you want to know, but you’re not asking the right person!

If you really want to know if Subway is a good investment, franchisees are the people to ask. They can also tell you how to “get one”!

You can easily find Subway franchisees either by looking into the company’s disclosure document (where you’ll find their contact information), or simply stopping at a Subway and talking to a franchisee.

Franchisees are usually willing to discuss their experiences with prospective franchisees, and if they have insights as to how to “get one” they’ll tell you. However, it seems to me that few Subway franchisees own just one unit — they own multiple units (it would be a good idea to ask them why) and so they may not be too eager to help someone buy a unit unless it’s far from where they’d like to own another one.

For those of you (and there are many) who would like to skip the start-up phase of business and buy an established franchise, that may be easier to do with Subway, except that the existing franchisees get first dibs on available units. And that’s because a franchisor would rather sell a unit to an experienced franchisee than to one who knows nothing about the business.

Meanwhile, you’re asking the right questions, and keep in mind that there are at least 2,500 franchise concepts in North America alone looking for new franchisees . . . don’t limit your questioning to Subway. Ask the same questions of other viable concepts such as those included in my most recent eBook: 12 Amazing Franchise Opportunities for 2015.

4+ Questions To Help You Buy A Franchise With Confidence

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Some prospective franchisees admit they do not know what to ask existing franchisees, and others say they know what they’d like to ask, but they don’t know how. Don’t let either scenario stop you from thoroughly investigating a franchise opportunity. Here are 4+ questions to ask, worded in a way to help you get the information you need.

#1 “As an existing franchisee, knowing what you now know, would you buy this same franchise again?”

Some experts will tell you never to ask Yes/No questions, but in this case you must because you want a definitive answer. If you ask ten franchisees of the same brand that same question you want to add up the “yeses” and “nos” at the end of your interrogation and decide if this is a franchise you should buy. If the majority of existing franchisees tell you “no” then you probably need to look for another opportunity. There could be exceptions, but you’ll want to understand what they are before you go ahead.

The answers to Question #1 logically lead to other questions. Whether the franchisee says yes or no, ask: “Why” If the franchisee answers no, ask “Under what circumstances would you change your answer to a yes?”

The answers to Question #1 logically lead to other questions. Whether the franchisee says yes or no, ask: “Why” If the franchisee answers no, ask “Under what circumstances would you change your answer to a yes?”

#2 “Do you find the business as satisfying today as you did when you first got started?”

Satisfaction is an important consideration in the life of a franchisee. In fact, many people explore franchise opportunities to get away from an unsatisfying job. But in this case, you’ll pay a fee to go to work. Do you really want to work at something that you don’t find satisfying after a year or two?

It’s another Yes/No question, but again the answers lead to other questions: “What happened to change your degree of satisfaction?” . . . “What could you or the franchisor do to make the business more satisfying?”

#3 “What’s the secret to the success of the top franchisees?”

It’s an open-ended question that can reveal important facts for you to consider. For example, if the franchisee answers, “Location!” you need to zero in on where to open your franchise. If the answer is “sales skills” or “management skills” or “accounting skills” you need to evaluate your own skills, or your ability to hire those skills.

Of course, if you’re not questioning a top franchisee, you may get the wrong answer! That’s why you should always ask the franchisor to give you a list of the top performing franchisees, i.e. the franchisees who won awards at the last three annual conventions. (A franchisor that won’t do that or can’t do that may not be worthy of your consideration).

#4 “If I invest the money the way the franchisor suggests (i.e. in training, advertising, location, etc.) and I work the business as well as you have, how much money can I expect to earn my first year as a franchisee? The third year? The fifth year?”

That’s what you really want to know, isn’t it? “How much money will I make?” The franchisor probably won’t tell you, but the franchisees will if you ask in a non-invasive manner. If you’re expecting to earn six figures annually, but no franchisee ever has with this brand, you need to know that upfront. It may mean you’ll have to buy more than one unit to meet your financial goals.

While these are some of the questions you should ask existing franchisees, you’ll find more in my book 101 Questions to Ask Before You Invest in a Franchise.

Franchise & Business Owners: Don’t Worry About Passion

Notice that no where does it say passion equates success in anything.

“Your passion for your business is most critical because it will drive your eventual success.”

So said an “expert”.

Who comes up with this stuff? It reminds me of the “expert” who said that most businesses fail for lack of cash flow. Huh? Most businesses fail because the business operators had no clue (no system) about how to operate the business successfully. They had plenty of money, but they ran out because they didn’t know how to invest it.

But I bet they had loads of passion?

And what did that get them? A huge financial loss and the despair that follows.

First thing prospective franchisees and others who plan to start a business should know is to avoid and ignore the “experts”. At least some of them. Instead, seek the advice of people who actually worked in the trenches, who built businesses, who failed a time or two, who made a payroll over and over again, and who understand the basics of how to succeed in a business.

And understand that passion can lead to success . . . or failure. 

Early in my entrepreneurial career, I rented a small office from a guy who owned an insurance agency. Every so often as he was leaving the office at about 6 p.m. he would stop by and say, “If you continue working this hard for another year or two, you’re going to be a great success.”

I know he meant well; I know he was merely encouraging me, but he was clueless.

You may have loads of passion for what you want to do in your business, and you may work 7 days a week at it, but here’s the most important point: If you don’t know what you are doing, and why, and how to do it over and over again, you are not going to succeed. Work your tail off, tell everyone how passionately you love your business, your products, your service, but don’t for a moment think any of that bull translates to financial success.

You want to succeed? Buy a system for success. Or develop a system for success. Of course, there too, you must be careful because all systems are not created equal.

By the way, I’ve identified 12 successful systems in my forthcoming ebook: 12 Amazing Franchise Opportunities for 2015. You can still get a free copy just for asking (look at the top of the screen). 

Your Mistakes Will Cost More Than You Think

When you start your own independent (non-franchised) business, your mistakes will be more costly than you imagined. In fact, your mistakes will probably put you out of business.

I’m not writing this to scare you away from starting a business without a franchisor; I’m writing it because it’s factual . . . and scary.

Do indie businesses survive?
Have you looked at the statistics? How many independent start-up businesses survive in the USA? Rather than take my word for it do some research, or better yet, just ask a local business banker!

Of course, the more entrepreneurial you are, the more likely you are to say that you can avoid the mistakes, and maybe you can. However, the statistics say otherwise. Most independent startups fail.

Why mistakes occur
Many people think certain businesses are easy to start and operate. Let’s take pizza for example. Many people can make a “good” pizza? My Italian grandmother made the greatest pizza in the world, so it’s no surprise that many of my cousins can make great pizzas, too.

In fact, when people tasted my cousin Mary’s pizza, they told her that she needed to go into business. And she did! Mary and her entrepreneurial husband (also an Italian) opened a couple of pizza shops, and in a matter of years were dead broke.

How could that be? They made a “great” pizza.

Can you sell what you make?
I’ll tell you how. They knew how to make pizza; they didn’t know how to market and sell pizza. Franchising’s saving grace is that it knows how to distribute (sell) products and services.

It is simple to open a pizza shop. You get a good location, buy the equipment, bring in the supplies, get a recipe, put up a sign, do some marketing and . . . voila! . . . you’ve got a thriving business.

No, you don’t. You’ve got a money-sucking business, unless you avoid the mistakes.

What do customers want?
Mary’s first mistake was believing that consumers want a “great” or even “good” pizza. They don’t. Just look at what they buy everyday!

Mary thought she could build her business by advertising in the newspaper. Wrong. The pizza franchises would have saved her from that mistake.

Mary also thought she could build her business without delivery. Wrong. The pizza franchises would have saved her from that mistake, too.

Too many mistakes
There were numerous other mistakes . . . Mary didn’t know how many slices of pepperoni to place on a large pizza and still keep it profitable . . . and the pizza franchises would have saved her from that mistake as well.

After so many mistakes, Mary and her husband lost their business and much more.

It’s easy to make these mistakes . . . Mary and her husband had no idea they were making them. They would have done anything to avoid them . . . except buy a franchise. Because a franchise would not have allowed Mary to sell her “great” pizza.

Should you buy a franchise?
Look, you need to make some tough decisions before you start a business. What’s important to you? Your way? Or a franchisor’s way? Keep in mind that the franchisor may not sell what you consider to be a “great” or even “good” product – if that’s important, find another franchisor, or avoid franchising.

Of this you can be sure: If you buy a reputable franchise (and they’re not all reputable) the franchisor’s training will save you from making too many costly mistakes. You’re still going to make mistakes, but in a franchise, the mistakes probably won’t put you out of business. Ask your banker how many of his or her franchisee clients fail? It’s one of the reasons why bankers love franchising.

In fact, even though they won’t tell you, the bankers know you are going to make mistakes when you start an independent business, and even though you’ve accounted for mistakes in your business plan and cash flow estimates, the bankers know better. Your mistakes are going to cost more than you think.