Making sure you find the right fit
Buying a franchise requires extensive homework to ensure the business agreement you’re entering into is a smart investment, from digging into unit profitability and income to franchise fees to terminations and transfers. But, like all companies, every franchise brand also has its own unique culture, which can have just as significant of an impact on your success and enjoyment of the business.
Culture is subjective - it can’t be evaluated in percentages or profits and losses. So how do you know if the franchise you’re considering is going to be the right cultural fit for you?
Find a product or service you can get behind. Look for a franchise that can make you money, but also delivers a product or service that you can get excited about.
Russ Russell turned his passion for travel into a job. He spent a year researching franchise business opportunities before landing on Cruise Planners, a home-based travel agency business. Says Russell, “Cruise Planners just kept popping up on my radar. For years, I had planned adventures for friends, family and myself, attending to every detail from hotels, trains, flights, tours and even a city-by-city, six-country tour. And then a light bulb went off … ‘I can do this for a career’ and I haven’t looked back.”
For others, like Tim and Anne Mackin, it was the experience of caring for a sick parent that hit home and inspired them to open a home care business. After doing their research they chose FirstLight Home Care, a Cincinnati, Ohio-based franchise company with over 200 locally-owned offices throughout the U.S.
“We then looked at businesses in the community that provided elder care,” says Tim Mackin. “We had some sense of what services were offered in our community and we wanted to be a part of something with impact—where we could give back. What we discovered is that not all franchises are the same. When we met with FirstLight, we just knew it was a good fit—and that we, personally, would want the FirstLight family to care for our loved ones.”
Make sure the brand’s core values align with your own values. Ask the franchisor what the brand’s mission and core values are, and how that influences the culture and your everyday business ownership.
Kathryn Boyce, who owns two MaidPro franchises in Florida, wanted a job that allowed her to help others and have the flexibility to pursue her other passions. “My job isn’t just a job; it’s a way of life,” says Boyce. I get to spend my time helping people and I even have time for my own personal hobbies and interests, such as helping animal shelters. Owning a MaidPro franchise gives me the freedom to help my staff care for their families. I love the other franchisees and home office staff members. To me, they’re family.”
Talk to franchisees about the support they receive from their franchisor. One of the benefits of owning a franchise is gaining access to a community of franchisees who share advice and support each. Talk to current franchisees, and ask how the franchisor creates a culture of sharing and learning among franchise owners.
Kathleen Kuhn, President of HouseMaster, a home inspection franchise with 279 locations throughout the U.S., is committed to fostering camaraderie among their franchisees. “There’s just this great culture of support,” says Kuhn. Franchisees on their own will visit other franchisees. They absolutely bend over backwards to help each other and I think when you first start franchising, now for us it was decades ago, you don’t realize that part of building a successful franchise company is that you’re also expanding your support network exponentially. It’s a very positive influence.”
Most franchisors hold an annual convention, but many also offer peer performance groups, mentorship programs, and regional meetings to provide franchisees an opportunity to share advice and support each other, fostering a cooperative, rather than competitive, culture.
Finally, ask the franchisor how their franchisees rate them on core values and culture. Franchise Business Review specializes in measuring franchisee satisfaction by asking franchise owners how they rate their franchisor in eight key areas, including core values, franchisee community, and training and support. What current franchisees say about their brand in these areas can help you determine if there truly is a culture of support in the system.