Finding the Right Franchise For You
As a potential franchisee you need to vet yourself just as you would vet the business you’re looking at buying. Make sure your values, goals and lifestyle are inline with the business and brand that you want to partner with. Buying a franchise isn’t like buying a car and driving off the lot with it, you’re getting into business with the franchisor for a very long time. I talk to potential franchisees everyday and there are people who I believe will make great small business owners, but are simply not the right fit for us. Everyone has a skill-set. Businesses succeed when people of a certain personality and skill-set are the right match for the business.
Here are some basic questions to ask yourself (and a prospective franchisor) during your quest to find the franchise that is the best fit for you.
1 Am I looking to put my money to work for me, or for something more than that? Buying a vending machine franchise can provide a simple return on your investment, but you can’t add any value to a business like that. If you’re feeling stifled in your job and want to be more creative as you make the leap into entrepreneurship, consider finding a brand or product that you can get excited about.
2 Is this a business or a job? A lot of franchise models require you to work in the business if you have any chance of replacing the income from your former job. This model works for a lot of people/families out there, but if your ultimate goal is to have more flexibility or to own multiple units, you need to make sure you’re buying a business that can succeed without you working in it. Perhaps a model where you’re best used training others and spending the rest of your time on things like marketing and PR.
3 What are the key drivers of revenue in the business and do they suit my personality? A friend of mine is a self-proclaimed introvert. He found his niche as the owner operator of a successful junk removal franchise where 90% of his workday is spent in solitary labour. Customers are handled by a call center and his interaction with his employees is mostly over the phone. In contrast, our business is about creating a great customer experience and building culture with the staff. A person may have
great financial or business acumen, but if they don’t like interacting with people, they likely will not meet our criteria during the selection process.
4 Does the business fit my lifestyle? If you love sports and think a sports bar is a good fit, consider first whether you want to spend evenings and weekends working, or with your family and at the cottage. If so, a sports bar is probably not the right call for you.
5 Is the business tech proof? Watch out for technology, it gobbles up businesses and industries quickly and can turn the next great thing obsolete void of any value. That said, with the emergence of ecommerce behemoths and online shopping, people are craving a great experience more than ever. As the old saying goes – necessity is the mother of invention. Look for franchises that are using the current climate as an opportunity to fill a void for consumers.
6 What are the franchisors goals? As I mentioned earlier, when you buy a franchise, you’re getting into business with people and those people are your support system. You need to make sure their values and goals are in line with yours. If you’re going to work hard on building your business, you want to know they’re going to work hard on building the brand. During our journey with Starks I’ve sought many mentors with decades of franchising experience and while they all have pearls of wisdom, there is one common denominator everyone comes back to and it is this: the franchisees that succeeded were a good fit for the business and the brand. The franchisees that failed were not.
Our philosophy is that we don’t sell franchises, we award them to people who believe in us and are a great fit for our brand. What you need to find is something you’re passionate about and compliments your skillset, your values and will help you achieve your goals. People buy franchises because they want to buy into a system. For the most part, established and almost perfected systems like McDonald’s or Tim Horton’s are already spoken for. Where you will find the biggest success is in a business model that’s striving for that. As a franchisee you will help them expand and refine their system. Look at what the business is and what it could become. Ask the franchisor what their plans are and where they see the business in five, 10 or 20years. Then vet yourself first and ask if this is the right fit for you.
Steve Tallis is the co-founder of Starks Barber Company, a chain of upscale barbershops with three corporate locations in the GTA, one franchise, and two more franchises opening in early 2020. Starks offers traditional barber services in a modern and sophisticated setting. With things like online booking, free coffee and wifi, and a hot towel massage at the end of every haircut, Starks is turning an errand into an experience.