Deciding to open a franchise is only the first in a long line of decisions you're going to be making in this process. Of all those decisions, the most important is your choice of franchises. Picking the right franchise for you, for your location, and for your goals is a critical choice and one you should make carefully.Finding the Right Franchise For You
Before you can choose a franchise, you need to take a long, hard, honest look at yourself. For your franchise to succeed and for you to enjoy running it, you need to choose a franchise that is going to mesh well with who you are. For example, if you don't feel comfortable juggling a huge staff, then you might want to avoid fast food franchises. On the hand, if you don't feel like micromanagement then you'll want to avoid franchise agreements that require you to be the on-site management for the franchise.
To get started, you should take an hour or two and make a list of who you are. Take a notebook and make spaces for a few lists, including your strengths, your weaknesses, your goals, your fears, your hobbies, and your skills. If you can think of any other list topics, then feel free to use those as well. The more information you have to work with the better.
Now spend some time reflecting on yourself and start completing your lists. When you have finished, put the lists away for a couple of days then come back to them. Try to keep adding to your lists every couple of days for about a week or so. By the end of that week, you should have a clear picture of who you are and you can begin to piece together a picture of the ideal franchise for your needs. For example, if you want to keep your weekends free, then you would steer clear of franchises that do most of their business on weekends or if you feel strongly about being a vegetarian then you wouldn't want to start a McDonald's franchise.Screening Potential Franchisors
Once you have determined what type of franchise is right for you, then you'll need to start looking at what's available. If you have some retail establishments in mind, the best way to determine if they operate through franchises is to visit their web sites. If you're not sure what's available, you can search the Internet for listings of franchise operations.
Don't decide that the first franchise you find is the right one, even if it meets all of your needs. You need to shop around because this is an important decision. After all, you probably didn't buy the first house you looked at or marry the first person you ever met, right? And choosing your franchise ranks right up there with those decisions.
As you are narrowing your franchise choices, you should keep a couple of things in mind:
● Look for a company that provides training - McDonald's is probably the best example of a company committed to the success of their franchisees because they provide an extensive 9 month training program whose price is included in your initial investment. Other companies, like Quizno's, hold seminars or other training events to help franchisees learn the ropes. Remember the more training you receive the more successful you're likely to be.
● Look for a name you know - If you browse through a list of available franchises, you're likely to see some you've never heard of. That doesn't necessarily mean they wouldn't be successful, but it does mean they may not have a strong reputation in your area. Since part of your franchise free covers the cost of the business's name and reputation, you don't want to pay for something that isn't going to benefit you in your community.
● Look for a franchise with a history of success - Make sure you do some research on any franchise you are thinking about opening. If the franchise operation is just starting out, their system may not have proven to be effective on a large scale yet. Their reputation may also just be beginning to grow. You're better off sticking with franchises that have been around for awhile.
Another consideration is your market. If you already have six Taco Bells in your town, your seventh one may not be able to receive a substantial share of the market. If your community if very conservative, it might not be a good idea to open an Adam & Eve franchise (they see lingerie and erotica). The bottom line is that part of your screening process should be finding franchises that would have a market in your area.
After you've narrowed you choices to five or fewer, then start comparing the UFOCs (Uniform Franchise Operating Circulars). Read through the documents very carefully and pay attention to the details agreements. You are looking for an arrangement that will be mutually beneficial. Don't just look at the money though. For example, if one franchise requires a low franchise fee but does not offer any training, you might be wiser to choose the franchise that requires a larger fee but that is willing to work with you to boost your chances of success.
Of course, you don't have to rely just on the numbers in the UFOC. Ask questions and talk to the people in charge to get a sense of who they are. Ideally, you'll find one or two franchises whose staff makes you feel the most comfortable and who seem the most eager to help you. If these companies also have strong financial numbers, then they should be among your top choices. Remember the company's staff is who you'll be dealing with when you have problems with the franchise, so they are going to play an important role in your success, too.Franchise Coaches & Counselors: Friend or Foe?
One temptation when you're trying to make this all-important decision is to work with a franchise coach or counselor. These individuals sell themselves as impartial guides that will help you choose the best franchise for your needs.
The secret is that many of these so-called coaches and counselors are actually franchise brokers working on behalf of a company to lure in potential franchisees. Instead of receiving objective, legitimate guidance, many people are told that one specific franchise would be a good match for them. For the brokers, it's a great way to get their job done. For the franchisees who think they are being given honest advice, things don't always work out so well.
If you do choose to work with a coach or a counselor before making this decision, it's important that you ask questions about who he or she is affiliated with. Do your research and talk to others who have used their services in the past. That way you'll be able to feel confident in the advice you're being given.