7 Tips to Build a First-Time Franchise

Handshake over clouds in the sky.

Investing in a franchise with a proven-business model and track record is less risky when beginning an entrepreneurial venture. But with so many franchises vying for an entrepreneur's time and money, how does a first-time entreprenuer successfully determine which business is a good fit? Here are seven easy tips that will lead you to choose a concept that will best fit your needs.

1. Personal Fulfillment

You must ask yourself: Is the product or service something I would proud of? The concept doesn't necessarily have to be a lifetime passion of yours, but if you don't believe in the service or product you're selling, more than likely you'll end up unhappy with your business. If you believe the product is beneficial to the consumer, the passion will grow from executing the model, meeting the customers' needs, and seeing your team grow personally and financially.

2. Employee Satisfaction

In order for patrons to receive the kind of service that makes them loyal customers, the employees must also be loyal to the business. In choosing a franchise, make sure employee compensation, rewards and recognition align with the interests of the customer and the employee. Creating a positive environment where employees are satisfied with their jobs will lead to motivated workers who take a strong interest in helping the business achieve its purpose. Likewise, a healthy relationship between a franchisor and his or her franchisees helps to create a strong, growing system.

3. More Than 9 to 5

Often times running a business requires you to work 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Are you ready to eat, sleep, and live this business? Besides work and money, what are other priorities in your life? Think about what sacrifices you have to make and whether or not you are able to follow through with them. Some franchisors make an effort to create a business that focuses on a strong quality of life for its employees by keeping manageable working hours and offers the support necessary to make the business successful. Talking to existing franchisees within the system will help you get a true sense of what owning the franchise will be like and whether or not it's a right fit for you.

4. More Bang for Your Buck

Does the franchise provide your ideal income potential? There are several opportunities for first-time entrepreneurs to invest in a business. And, it's very appealing to own your own business. Other ambitious franchisors may try to run a number of units which may allow for higher financial rewards. Overall, knowing exactly where you want your business will help you choose an opportunity that fits your monetary goals.

5. Investigate the Situation

Make sure to do research on your desired industry. What are the long-term growth prospects for the industry? Is there opportunity for growth? Also, keep in mind the current state of the economy; can your business model withstand a recession? These questions must be asked and addressed. In addition, you should take into consideration your expected retirement date. You want to make sure that the enterprise value of your business will allow you to sell it when necessary.

6. Break It Down

Ask the potential franchisor to detail their mission and how their business model is executed. While all companies have mission statements, very few seem to connect the execution of the business model to fulfill their objectives. Find out how franchises earn money or control aspects of their bottom line. Take a look at product sales, advertising programs, additional service fees for computer support, etc. You may discover that every single fee for service is completely legitimate and worthwhile, but make sure there are no surprises. One clue can also be the franchisor's success with the company-owned locations. While some franchise concepts are very successful even though the franchisor doesn't operate any locations, it can often be the case that the very best franchisors thrive at operations as well.

7. Proper TLC All business concepts evolve and must adapt to changes in the marketplace.

How has this concept evolved over time and kept up with changes in consumer needs and desires? Does it provide you with continuing training and support to successfully operate your business at each stage of its development? While you must assume the responsibility for success, examine the tools the franchisor gives you to execute with excellence. For example, does the franchisor offer information systems that allow you to manage multiple locations if that is your desire?

There are pros and cons to every business model, but make sure you are aware of those before you become committed and invested as a franchisee. Keep in mind your desired personal goals and focus on these key areas before choosing a franchise. Few things are more exciting to the entrepreneur than successfully executing a strategy to build your own business, so choose wisely.


About the Author Ricky Brooks became an Express Oil Change franchisee in 1987. A lifelong entrepreneur, Brooks had enjoyed a successful career in the insurance and financial planning industries and had once been recognized as the youngest franchisee in the Sonic Drive-In chain at age 23. Brooks developed 14 Express Oil Change locations and as one of the chain's largest franchisees, his operational efficiency, profitability and sales growth were used as a benchmark for franchised and corporate stores.

Express Oil Change & Service Center is a recognized leader in the quick-lube and automotive service industry and the largest independent quick-lube chain in the Southeast with both corporate and franchise-owned locations. Express Oil Change has more than 170 locations in ten states: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Louisiana and Texas. More than 100 locations are franchise-owned. Twelve centers were opened in 2008. The company expects to open 18 to 20 new centers in 2010 and increase those numbers in coming years toward a goal of reaching 230 to 250 locations in the Southeast and Texas in five years. Targeted areas in 2010 include the Carolinas, Texas and Florida as well as other strategic areas across the South.

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