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Guidant’s Complete Guide to Buying a Franchise outlines what it means to be a franchise owner. We have broken down the guide into segments to give prospecting franchise owners an understanding of hidden costs, important documents, and the overall journey to franchise ownership. This introduction to the Guide is the first step.
The journey to becoming a business owner is exciting…but can be overwhelming at the same time. There are a variety of options and opportunities available to you – the world is your proverbial business oyster. This guide is designed to familiarize you with what it means to own a franchise, help you decide if being part of a franchise suits your goals and personality and take you through the ins-and-outs of the journey to franchise ownership.
A key benefit of owning a franchise is the support you receive from your brand. However, it should come as no surprise that not all franchise brands are created equally, and the level of franchisor support can vary widely. Here we will cover the four areas of support you should expect from a 'typical' franchise.
Alright, readers. You’ve made it this far – nice job! We know this is a lot of information to take in, but hope it ultimately helps educate your decision-making and fuels your excitement.
One reason that individuals look into franchising instead of an independent business is the support from the corporate team. A franchisee has an entire network of professionals and fellow franchisees to lean on and to help solve problems, as well as a robust structure in place to specifically help them succeed.
However, the level of support can vary greatly from brand to brand. What type of support should you expect, and how can you know what your brand will provide? Another excellent question! You’re on a roll, reader. The bottom line here is that if your contract with the franchise doesn’t mention a certain element of support, you’re not likely to receive it. However, there are some basics that most franchises will provide for their franchisees. After all, your franchise is (almost) as invested in your success as you are – they’re on your side!
These support elements fall into four main categories: location, initial training, marketing, and continuing education.
For a franchise with a brick-and-mortar location, the selection and development of your site is one of the most important (and complex) elements. A typical franchisor will provide a list of suggestions and/or requirements, so you know what to look for. Using a local real estate agent for this step may also be helpful, as they’re familiar with the area and can cut down on search time. Once you’ve found a site, your franchisor will likely need to approve it.
Building support might include construction instruction and sources for each physical part of your space. Some may even help with the logistics of ordering and delivering those elements. If the idea of paint chips and feng shui makes you break out in a cold sweat, never fear: your franchise has this covered. Your space will need to match their color, signage, equipment and décor standards – which they’ve already perfected.
The initial training often includes a combination of coursework and on-the-job training. It can take days or weeks, depending on the depth of the training and the complexity of the business. This training will cover the operations of your franchise, from start to finish – it’s everything you need to know to run the business from day one. Remember, your franchisor wants you to succeed. Part of that is making sure you can hit the ground running when you open your location.
Many franchisors hold training at headquarters, and you’re typically responsible for the cost of travel and lodging. However, some brands also make use of at-home modules. Sometimes a franchisor will send an experienced member of their team to assist you the first few days of operating your location, to ensure everything goes as smoothly as possible.
Your opening day is not your franchisor’s first rodeo. Support from your brand will typically include a full marketing plan for the first few months of operation, from a grand opening promotion, to advertising, and to promotional material. It’s common for franchisees to contribute to a marketing and advertising fund that is used to support marketing efforts for the entire franchise. This means you do not need to come up with your own advertising plan or marketing materials – your franchisor has that taken care of for you.
In fact, franchisors typically keep a tight rein on their brand. With so many different franchisees all relying on the same brand, any new promotional material you develop on your own will need to be approved by the franchisor before it sees the light of day.
This aspect of support covers issues like recruiting and retaining employees, a range of office support, new product training and employee training. Some brands even have an organized network of franchisees that can lean on each other to share tips and tricks. An annual convention, where franchisees can connect with each other and reconnect with brand staff, are also an excellent resource offered by many franchisors.
Remember, it’s important to carefully look through your contract (preferably with an experienced professional). If an element of support that you require isn’t listed, it likely won’t be provided. Have a frank conversation with any brand you’re looking into to make sure you have a solid understanding of what to expect.
This information is not intended as an offer to sell, or the solicitation of an offer to buy, a franchise. It is for information purposes only. Currently, the following states regulate the offer and sale of franchises: California, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin. If you are a resident of one of these states, we will not offer you a franchise unless and until we have complied with applicable pre-sale registration and disclosure requirements in your jurisdiction. Franchise offerings are made by Franchise Disclosure Document only.