The journey to becoming a business owner is exciting, but it also can be confusing and overwhelming at times. While franchising can help make the dream of owning a business possible, a number of would-be entrepreneurs still struggle to find the confidence required to take the plunge and invest in a franchise.
Knowledge and confidence go hand-and-hand during your journey to buying a franchise. The more you know the better. The research process will help qualify your life-changing decision to invest in a franchise business. To help you keep track of your progress, FBR has come up with the following Research Checklist.
1. Get Organized
As you begin your franchise research process, it’s important to be organized. Keep detailed notes on all the information you learn and resources you discover. It’s also helpful to keep a separate folder for each company you explore so you have all their information in one place.
2. Understand ALL Your Franchise Options and Best Opportunities
There are many online resources that provide candidates with info on the latest franchise opportunities, and some will even help you narrow your choices based on industry, location and price range. But wherever you are in the process of identifying the right franchise opportunity for you, be sure to check out Franchise Business Review’s annual Top 200 Franchises rankings. There are thousands of franchise opportunities available to business owners today and many companies claim to be the “best franchise”, but FBR’s independent research delivers the most comprehensive list of today’s top franchise opportunities based on actual reviews from over 28,000 franchise owners across more than 300 of today’s leading franchise brands.
3. Attend Franchise Expos and Trade Shows
There is no better way to learn about the world of franchising and take the next step to business ownership than to attend a franchising expo. The largest and most well-known is the The International Franchise Expo. The expo is an excellent opportunity for you, the franchise buyer, to compare brands side by side, meet franchisors and franchisees, build your franchising network and take part in educational seminars. For more information, click here.
4. Review Franchise Company Websites
FBR recommends you read everything available on both the consumer site and franchise information websites to learn how well the company not only brands itself to customers, but also presents itself to potential investors.
5. Do Local Market Research
Franchise companies expect YOU to be their local market expert. It’s important for you to understand the size of the potential opportunity in your local market. How many potential customers are there? Where are those customers located? Where are they currently buying the products or services you’ll be offering? What other businesses are potential competitors in your market (franchise or non-franchise)? What other businesses or organizations could be potential partners with your new business? How will traffic patterns and the longer-term growth of your community affect your business?
If you have lived in an area for a long time, you will probably be able to answer many of these questions easily. But if you are new to the market, doing your homework on the local area and who the “players” are may take more time.
6. Spend Time with Franchise Owners
There is no better way to learn about a franchise company than to speak with franchisees who are actually running the business. Again, FBR’s Franchisee Satisfaction reports provide great insight on what franchisees actually think about their brands. From there, it’s up to you to reach out and connect with franchise owners to hear their stories and learn about their experiences working with the franchisor. Better yet, plan on spending time with them at their place of business to get a real sense of what it’s like to own a franchise. Get to Know the Franchisor Management Team
You’ll want to know their background and franchise experience. The more you know about your potential franchisor, the better. A lot of questions can be answered during Discovery Days.
7. Get to Know the Franchise Training & Support Team
It’s great to meet the CEO and senior leadership team to understand the vision and direction of the company, but it’s even more important to get to know the franchise training and support teams. These are the people that will help you launch and grow your business if you decide to move forward.
8. Build a Franchise Comparison Worksheet
When evaluating different business opportunities, it’s important to make as many objective, apples-to-apples comparisons as you can. To do this, you should build out a simple worksheet with a list of various business goal items down the left hand column and list out each franchise company you are exploring in the top row. Here’s a sample Franchise Comparison Worksheet to get you started.
Having completed, FBR’s Franchisee Vision Plan will help you come up with your list of comparison items. Once you have your list of comparison items completed, you can score each franchise on a scale of 0 to 10 on how well they meet your expectations for each item. Once you’re done, simply total up your scores for each franchise and see how they each stack up in achieving your goals for business ownership.
9. Gut Check!
It is completely normal to feel both excited and nervous about investing in a franchise business. Everyone experiences emotional ups and downs throughout their franchise exploration and research process. Our research checklist and other tools will help you stay organized and approach the process in the right way. That said, the process of buying a franchise business can be an emotional rollercoaster and it’s good to share your thoughts and feelings with your friends, family, and any professional advisors.
Do a weekly gut check as you go through the franchise exploration process, and if you’re feeling more stress than excitement, take a few days off and pick up again when you feel more interested. Owning a business can be an exciting opportunity, but it’s important to find a business that you are passionate about. Doing a weekly gut check can be an important exercise to help guide you to the right franchise opportunity for YOU.