There are many reasons why people purchase franchises. Some people have always had an interest in a particular type of business and feel more comfortable with a “proven system.” Others fall in love with a particular brand and want to become part of the team. Still others are pure investors, looking for the next hot opportunity to add to their fortune.
Whatever your motivation, not everyone is cut out to be a franchisee. So before you become too enamored of the idea of franchising, step back and take a good long look at yourself to determine if franchising is really the right path for you. Ask yourself these three questions:
1. Am I willing to embrace someone else’s system without trying to do it my way or make it “better”?
2. Can I follow someone else’s lead and accept their advice and their criticism?
3. Am I willing to be part of a network of franchisees realizing that there may be times when what is the best course for the network as a whole is not what is best for me?
If you can honestly answer “yes” to each of these questions, then you should continue to explore franchise opportunities.
There is a lot of talk about buying and selling franchises, but what do you really get when you “buy” a franchise? If you buy a nonfranchised business, it’s yours. You can change policies, add or delete menu items, make the food a little spicier, cut your own deals with vendors and suppliers, and even change the name.
However, the essence of a franchise is consistency. Customers expect to have the same experience from one unit of a franchise to the next, and the only way to ensure consistency is to have everyone operate according to the same standards. If you choose to purchase a franchise, there’s very little you can change — at least not without the permission of the franchisor.
So if you have a true entrepreneurial spirit and are constantly looking at things from a slightly different point of view — if you want to do things your own way and cannot resist the temptation to tweak a little here and there, or if you believe that you really do have a better secret recipe — you will probably be much happier on your own.
If you are coming out of a corporate world, ask yourself if you are willing to take on responsibility for the overall business. Those coming out of the corporate world are often a little spoiled. When they needed an ad, they called the advertising department; when invoices came in they passed them on to an accounting department for payment; a human resources department screened prospective employees; and a purchasing department made sure they got the best prices. Operating a franchise means that you will have to perform all of these functions — and more — yourself. The franchisor will provide you with a system that has many benefits, but the day-to-day operations and responsibilities will be yours.
Whether you invest in a franchise or start your own business, you will need the support of your family. Beginning any business venture requires a tremendous amount of time, energy, and resources. Even if you are experienced in a particular industry (and especially if you’re not), you will be learning a new operating system and experiencing different challenges which can divert time and attention away from family and social activities. Not having the support of those closest to you can add undue pressures at a time when you may already be feeling overwhelmed.
There’s absolutely no question that many, many, people have found that owning a franchise has given them all the pride and benefits of owning their own business. But it has left others feeling stifled and even suffocated. But then, one person’s elixir is another person’s poison.