Choosing a Franchise

Choosing a Franchise

Big Decision: Here are three key support elements

that you need to evaluate before choosing a franchise.

By Richard F. Peroe

Starting your own business – even one with an established brand – is challenging, but being your own boss can be deeply rewarding. With so many franchise options today, narrowing in on the right opportunity might be a tough decision. How do you know what types of questions to ask to determine whether a business is right for you?

From my 28 years of business in a retail franchise, both as a franchisee and in several franchise support roles, I have found that there are three critical support elements you should evaluate before choosing a franchise: initial training, marketing investment and ongoing support.

Initial Training

Your specific franchise may be an extension of a profession you’ve had experience with in the past. For example, many tax-preparation franchisees were once CPAs or independent tax preparers. On the other hand, a franchise may be a new line of work or a second career that fulfills your entrepreneurial spirit. Either way, training is an important element to getting started.

From manuals and webinars to in-person training, the franchisor will provide information on how to execute the business, as well as programs and protocols specific to the brand. The best franchisors will offer information on all aspects of your business, from selecting your location to ensuring quality and compliance, and more.

A few questions to ask:

* Is travel required, or can the training be done remotely?

* Are there separate courses for my general managers and employees?

* Will there be continuing education and professional development classes? If so, is there additional cost involved?

Brand Marketing

Congratulations! Your business is up and running. Now what? How do you ensure your business continues to grow?

As an operator, you know that keeping customers happy will drive both loyalty and word-of-mouth referrals. The brand marketing plans should also help bring in new customers. Franchisors with an established brand or product often have a strong process for developing national marketing, but might require a larger percentage of revenue for marketing. Smaller brands or start-ups might offer a lower marketing contribution but may not have an established brand and may focus on regional and local marketing.

Make sure to understand the type of brand you are more comfortable operating, as well as the marketing support you’ll receive from your franchisor. A few questions to ask:

* How much are you required to contribute to the marketing fund? Can the amount of the contribution be increased?

* When are the local and national marketing programs determined and communicated?

* Is there a portal where I can get marketing materials?

Ongoing Support

Even with an established brand, business planning and updates are critical. Most franchisee-franchisor relationships require attendance at specific meetings, like an annual convention or other update meetings. In addition, you might receive a regional or operational support manager who provides regular planning and support throughout the year.

If you require more assistance, a strong mentoring program could be a benefit. Look for a franchisor that will match your experience and needs, and potentially reach out to other franchisees to guide you through your first year.

A few questions to ask:

* What are the required meetings?

* Will I have a dedicated franchisee support person?

* Is there a franchise association I can join?

Remember: While a franchise business has a brand name, it is still your business. Make sure the type of business, the type of brand and the ongoing support fit your own personal style. It’ll set you up to enjoy yourself, which also goes a long way toward succeeding in any business.

Richard F. Peroe is vice president of franchise sales and development for Jackson Hewitt Tax Service.


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