Franchising – Is it suited to you personally?

Franchising – Is it suited to you personally?

Many of us harbour the ambition to be our own boss. How much better would life be if we were free of the restrictions and bureaucracy of employment and in control of our own destiny, to be the boss making all the decisions?

Self-employment can be very liberating and rewarding, from both a financial and lifestyle viewpoint. However, it’s definitely not for everyone. Many of us may have the desire to run our own business, but do we all have what it takes to go it alone and be successful? Clearly not. Lack of confidence, limited capital or simply being too risk adverse are common and understandable reasons why a lot of people shy away from leaving the relative security and comfort of being employed to start their own business.

Franchising represents a great way to overcome some of the typical obstacles
confronted by budding business owners because it offers the chance to run a business that’s already proven, with an established brand, system and methodologies. You are trained to run the business and given on-going support. So, it’s a ‘fast track’ route to setting up a business with the associated risks considerably reduced. That benefit is very appealing and explains why franchising has matured into being a major contributor to the UK economy.

Franchising does not, however, overcome the importance of having the right character, attitude and personality. A franchise is not a soft option for owning a business. In fact, the demands can be greater because not only are franchise owners accountable to themselves and their family about how the business performs, they are also accountable to the franchisor. The franchisor expects that franchise owners will rigorously conform with prescribed systems and methods and they will set performance standards which franchise owners will be carefully measured against.

There are certain attributes that franchise owners must have which are common to all business owners:

  • Self motivation – you have to be driven and pro-active
  • Ambition – you need vision
  • Determination – a full and determined effort is essential
  • Commercial acumen –a good understanding of the basics of business
  • Leadership skills – if the business employs staff you need to be capable of giving clear direction
  • Communication skills – having the ability to positively engage and
  • Mental fortitude – able to maintain focus through difficult trading
    periods as well as the good ones

When appointing franchise owners a franchisor will look for all of the above, plus a number of additional vital attributes. Specifically, candidates will usually be required to demonstrate that they are able to conform. To reiterate, franchise owners must organise, administer and develop the business exactly as the franchisor dictates, using the tools that it provides. For this reason, being prepared to conform is important and it also explains why people with maverick tendencies are rarely suitable franchise owners.
Franchise owners will also be expected to display genuine enthusiasm for the business and to show that they share the values on which the business has been built.

There is good reason to justify these extra attributes. A franchisor is entrusting a person with its brand, its reputation and its method of operating, all of which will have been carefully developed and refined over time. They expect that franchise owners will use those ‘assets’ to replicate the business and be capable of achieving the same level of success. So, franchisors will grant franchises to people who they feel confident will be compliant brand ambassadors.

There are over 940 different business opportunities currently available and the number is growing year on year. There’s a wide choice of franchises in a variety of business categories– fine dining restaurants, pizza delivery, domiciliary care, plumbing, cleaning ovens, gardening, property sales & letting and many more. Those seeking a franchise can therefore usually find a business that suits.

It does however mean that choosing the right franchise can be a challenging exercise. Having worked in franchising for over 25 years, managing several franchised businesses, including Dyno-Rod, Snack-in-the-Box and Ovenclean, I have met many people who are trying to find a suitable business opportunity. My advice to them is to firstly to be clear about the primary requirement.

  •  Is it to bring about a change in work routine?
  •  Is it intended to provide a better work:life balance?
  •  Is it to improve long-term earnings and prosperity?
  •  Is it to simply feel that destiny is more controlled?
  •  Is it just because it’s seems like a good option?

Not surprisingly, the answer often touches on all of these issues, but to varying degrees. Identifying the most important requirements will, however, be key to refining the type of franchise that would be most suited. Or, if buying a franchise is the best option at all!

The next question will revolve around the task of aligning the candidates’ character and personality with the right type of business. Sometimes this can be difficult because it requires the candidate to be very honest about their strengths and weaknesses, but past experience and an appraisal of skills will invariably steer a course towards the type of business that should be focused on. The following examples help illustrate.


Example 1:

John is a 45 year old married man with 2 children. He has worked as a car
mechanic for his entire career but has recently been made redundant and using the redundancy payment, plus his savings, he would like to buy a franchise. He is a proud family man who is bright, hard working and personable, but has limited commercial ability. He wants a franchise that would allow him to exploit his practical skills and to work on his own.

Type of franchise
A ‘man and van’ repair & maintenance franchise, perhaps in the automotive sector e.g smart repair. Is a franchise that is not dependent on selling ability but provides a flow of regular repeat business through the application of good inter-personal skills.

Example 2:

Martin is an accomplished sales manager of a printing company. He is 40 years old, married with a young daughter. He is money motivated and enjoys a good remuneration but is a frustrated employee. He is fed up of the usual work routine and has identified franchising as the way forward. He is out-going and highly ambitious. He has plenty of equity in his house and financial assistance is available from his family.

Type of franchise
A medium to high investment management franchise requiring the building of a team in which professional sales skills would be a key to success. This might be a catering or retail business, possibly instant print.

It is not unusual for prospective franchise owners to seek an opportunity that is vastly different to the field of work they have been in. The requirement is a real lifestyle change. So, it might be possible that Martin would be attracted to the type of business that John pursues, and vice versa. But that obviously increases the risk.

There are 38,000 franchise owners in the UK, all with the chance to fulfil their ambition of being their own boss due to the brand and support the franchisor provides. They have varying personalities but there are common attributes they all share – drive, enthusiasm and a determination to succeed.

Clive Smith
Franchise Focus