Dotting the I’s and Crossing the T’s

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Apart from buying a home or a fancy car, buying a franchise could be the costliest thing you purchase in your life – not just in terms of money, but also the time you will dedicate to it. Time to start dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s…

It’s going to be a BIG decision.

When you buy a home or car there (normally) is a lot of careful thought, reading and checking through things, before you hit the “buy now” button.

So, you’re considering whether to become a franchisee or not.

  • Are you prepared for what you could be getting yourself in for?
  • Is it going to be right for you?
  • How can you be sure that the franchise you think you’re going to go with is the one?

Consider these points raised in our…

Buying a Franchise – questions to think about

  1. Their brand:
    Does the brand fit with you?
    – What is it purpose? Are you happy working to their mission statement?
    – What values do they work to, and do you share these?
  2. Their transparency:
    – Have they presented you with a full disclosure document / information memorandum?
    – Do they share financials from their current business / network, so you can cross check these against their theoretical profit and loss illustrations?
    – Do they tell you what will be the tough part of the business? And how best to make it less tough!
  3. Their processes:
    – Is the process they are putting you through as a potential franchisee systemised and well thought out?
    – If you buy from them as a customer, is it an easy “process driven” experience?
    – Can they give you a preview of segments of the Operation Manuals and training programme?
  4. Their reputation:
    – Are their customers raving about them online or are there warning signs coming up as you read over their reviews?
    – How do they manage complaints or negative reviews? Often you can learn more about a business by how they respond to the bad ones!
  5. Their USPs and pricing:
    What really makes them different to others in their sector? P.S. “Excellent customer service” is not a USP.
    – Have their trademarked their name and logo and protected their Intellectual Property?
    – Are they confident in their pricing and how they sell their product or service?
  6. Their Legal Agreement:
    – Was it written by a specialist franchise lawyer?
    – Have they asked you to get the Franchise Legal Agreement checked over and explained to you?
    – Did they recommend you go to a BFA approved lawyer for this?
  7. Their team and franchise network:
    – Are they open to allowing you to speak with anyone who is in their team or network?
    – When you speak to these people, does what they say match up to what the franchisor is saying?
    – Do you get on with them and see yourself working well with them?

Awarding not selling

Remember, a good franchisor will always “award” a franchise to the right candidate, rather than “sell” it to just anyone.

So, if you’re serious about becoming a franchisee, take it seriously! You should feel as though the franchisor is interviewing you and you need to convince them that you are right for them.

Turn up early for meetings and discovery days, ask lots of questions, be open to getting know people and allowing others to get to know you. They often say franchising is like a marriage, and (for most of us) there is normally a period of “courting” before we walk down the aisle.

New vs established franchises

As a Franchise Development Consultant, I work with business owners to help them become franchisors. The question they all ask at the initial stage is “how will I find franchisees?”

For brand new franchises it’s always trickier as potential franchisees will tend to ask “how many franchisees do you have?” and when the answer is zero, it can put some people off. However, for others, this is an extremely exciting opportunity!

With more and more business owners turning to the franchise model to grow their businesses, there are some new brands out there right now, that are going to be the next big thing in a few years’ time. All franchisors started with nothing.

So even if a franchise only has zero or a couple of franchisees, refer back to the “questions to think about” and review the opportunity on that basis.

Early adopter franchisees have a huge role to play in the development of a franchise network. And (don’t let them know I said this, but) you could get yourself a great deal,  plus an even larger amount of support than expected given that you are the founder franchisee and they will do everything they can to ensure you become happy and successful.

Good luck, speak to lots of franchisors and remember, Questions are the Answers!


Written by Phil Mowat of Ashtons Franchise Consulting for the Summer 2023 edition of Business Franchise Magazine.


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