What are the vital questions that potential owners ask when researching a franchise? Business owners and executives offer valuable tips and advice…
The many roads to business ownership through franchising are both lit with entrepreneurial triumph as well as littered with franchise complaints. The difference can sometimes be traced back to the research phase and, often, the triumphant folks were the ones who took the time to evaluate their personal goals and come up with critical questions to bring before the franchisors and their franchisees, leaving no stone unturned, as the saying goes. Franchises have become a critical piece of the local and national economic pie, but there are thousands of brands (some are flat-out scams to be avoided), and some smaller or regional franchises are still formulating their new programs so their long term success is a bit more of a mystery. Alas, some of the greatest franchise opportunities come to you vested in successful, proven systems with wide brand recognition, always preparing for the future and always providing lasting expertise and support.
Doug Harlan, Minuteman Press International Regional Vice-President located in the Chicago region represents a robust, award-winning franchise program that includes not only an introduction to the brand and initial training, but real support when it comes to all essential aspects of launching a successful business including help securing a location, loans, employee development, advertising, and proper equipment for set-up, just to name a few.
Doug believes in cutting right to the chase with 6 key questions to start off your interview with franchisors:
- How will their franchise support me?
- How do they make their money?
- What additional expenses are there on top of your royalties? (There are often monthly advertising fees)
- How is my location determined?
- How has technology changed your business model?
- Does your company have an exit or retirement strategy for its franchise owners?
Kevin Wittal, Minuteman Press Regional Vice-President, located in Toronto, Canada, echoes the thoughts of his colleague, Doug, as he adds, “A viable and trusted franchisor will be able to open up to you on all the practical aspects of their system and what it provides. An important part of the way we do this is by encouraging you to walk into established, working locations for frank discussions with Minuteman Press franchise owners. If there is any hesitation from a franchisor in these areas, you need to move on.”
Doug and Kevin are forthcoming and more than happy to help prospects explore important aspects of the business services industry leader they represent. They take franchise hopefuls to visit working Minuteman Press locations in their regions as part of a complete investigation. For this reason, potential business owners visiting representatives such as Doug and Kevin leave with no Minuteman Press franchise complaints with regard to their ability to conduct a comprehensive review of the depth and breadth of this award-winning system.
Embarking on franchise ownership, naturally, requires you to accurately figure your capital and assets and to meet basic financial requirements needed to launch successfully. Once armed with your financial picture (liquid assets, net worth, etc.), you will be able to take off on your in-depth research into the multi-faceted arena of franchise costs. It is imperative to ask bold questions about the specific fees you will be responsible for initially and over time such as royalties, advertising, inventory, equipment, property leases and so forth. The most important questions related to franchise cost will help you determine the depth of value a franchisor offers for your money, starting with the franchise fee and continuing on through the quality of training and support (if any) that they will be providing to you long term. Additionally, some corporations offer to help with financing your franchise, but many do not. Determining exactly what your franchisor is made of becomes very evident when you ask frank questions that reveal precisely what they provide to you in exchange for your investment and drive to succeed.
Barry Landowski, owner at Minuteman Press in Menomonee Falls, WI, took the time to conduct exhaustive research into the many franchising opportunities available. He knew to ask questions that would essentially “pull back the curtain” on how the various franchise systems operated and what they would provide to him in exchange for his time and investment. At the conclusion of his research, the clear standout selection was the number one-rated digital, print, design and marketing franchise, Minuteman Press International.
Barry shares his pick for 9 additional vital questions to bring before franchisors as you investigate ownership:
- Is the product or service that the franchise represents something that people need or want in my area?
- Is it something that I would feel comfortable selling?
- Does the franchise have a good reputation/track record?
- What is the primary objective of the franchise – opening as many stores as possible or making every effort to insure the success of the franchisee?
- Will the franchise support me after I open my business or will I never hear from them again?
- What is the failure rate of the new franchises?
- What are the costs? Initial fees, royalty costs, forced advertising costs?
- Does the franchise offer any leveraged purchasing power in equipment, supplies, etc.?
- Am I actually the owner, able to make most of my own decisions or am I merely a manager for a franchise who tells me what to sell, how to sell it, how much to charge, who to buy from, etc.?”
The maturity of a franchise system is frequently indicative of its potential to offer you the greatest chance to align yourself within its format and build wealth. Franchise programs that have been well-established and whose brands have become trusted and needed fixtures within their communities tend to offer greater support, and some successful entrepreneurs find lower risk associated with the “bigger” brands.
Also, part of the reason for the longevity of the best among franchise brands is consistency in the realm of supply and demand. Consider what local customers will have need for and realize that you may not want to invest in a franchise that offers only seasonal or trendy products and services because those demands will be variable and so will your ability to profit. Far greater it would be to take advantage of a franchise opportunity that provides products and services for which demand is enduring because, naturally, it increases the chances for your profitability to endure as well.
David Rowley, owner of three Minuteman Press franchises (two in Arlington, VA and one in Clinton, MD), did not rush his personal investigation into franchise cost and the quality of the many franchise opportunities available. He explains his approach, “I think when researching a franchise, or even a non-franchise for that matter, one should think of their skill sets, what they enjoy doing and what their goals are. Some go into a certain type of business because they have been in the industry for years and now want to own a piece of it. Other times people might be looking at a business that they have never been in before but find it interesting and it may seem like something they can do. Granted, the main reason to go into business is to make money. As financial literacy activist Robert Kiyosaki says, there are four ways to produce income:
(1) Employee – You Have a Job;
(2) Self-Employed – You Own a Job;
(3) Business Owner – You Own a System and
(4) Investor – You Own Investments.
95% of wealth comes from numbers 3 & 4. Many people just buy themselves a job. The key is for your money to work for you instead of you working for your money. So, finding an industry that is growing is important. Looking at market trends for the industry you are interested in and how that industry fares in your geography. Once the type of business is determined, investing in a franchise can be a great option.”
David investigated many business opportunities, but Minuteman Press International, the number one-rated digital print, design and marketing franchise was the clear winner in his book and today, he is the proud owner of three successful locations. He elaborates further, “A good franchise will have a proven system that works with solid financial data to show its success. Generally speaking (and this can be different depending on the industry) a good franchise makes investments in itself, and contributes where it makes sense at that franchise level so that individual owners do not need to. The franchisor should always be on top of the latest information and industry trends in order to stay ahead of the competition.
Basically, there are things that many franchisees are doing or should be doing. The franchisor should be seeing how they can help take those aspects of the business on for the franchisees so that everyone is not “recreating the wheel”. One of the main things any potential franchisee should do is talk to existing franchise owners and ask lots of questions.”
Taking the time to ask the right questions will pay off as you prepare to invest in a franchise opportunity. Many franchisors cut corners on training and offer little in terms of long-term support, while the strongest ones become fully vested in the collective missions of their franchise owners. Among the strongest ones is your perfect fit, and that select franchisor will provide training and in-depth support, arming you with potential to grow a thriving business that may take deep root within the community you serve.
Learn more about Minuteman Press franchise opportunities by calling us at 1-800-645-3006 or filling out the contact form on this page.