As you go about your final franchise research, understand that successful franchisors have certain traits in common. Here are some of the ones that I think are most important; if you can find a franchisor like this, then you are very close to making a smart decision:
1. The franchisor supports the franchisees: The best franchises are ones where the franchisor sees its relationship with the franchisees as a partnership. As the former head of Pizza Hut, Steve Reinemund, once put it, “Franchisees are only as successful as the parent company and the parent company is only as successful as the franchisees.”
Not only do such franchisors normally offer plenty of communication, opportunities for growth within the company, and help during hard times, but they also offer lots of advice and training. A good example of this is Dunkin Donuts. To support new franchisees, it created Dunkin Donuts University. There, franchisees and their personnel are invited to attend a success program that teaches them everything from basic instructions on how to run the business to how to produce the products, deal with employees, use equipment, and even advice on inventory control and accounting. Now that’s support.
2. The franchisor advertises a lot: Not all franchises are dependent upon advertising, but enough are that this is an important distinction. You probably want a system that does not skimp on advertising and promotions – that is where customers come from.
3. The franchisor offers uniformity, tempered with flexibility: One of the great strengths of franchising is that customers know what to expect when they walk into a well-known franchise. That sort of uniformity is a main reason people choose to eat at, for example, McDonald’s.
But by the same token, you want to avoid a franchisor that is so strict that it does not allow for creativity and some independence. The good franchisors know that some of the best ideas come from franchisees that try something new. And in any case, one reason for buying a franchise is that you want the freedom to be your own boss. Avoid then, the paternal franchisor.
4. The franchisor is committed to customer service: The great franchisors don’t just give lip service to customer service, they teach it to everyone in the organization, and live it on a daily basis. That’s critical, because if people are treated well at other outlets, that in turn gives your individual franchise a good name too.
5. The franchisor changes with the times: Tastes and values change. The last thing you want is to buy into a system that is stuck in the past, not realizing that its product or service needs to adapt to the times. The better franchise systems are constantly test marketing new ideas and new products, in an effort to stay ahead of the competition.
Choosing the right franchise is not easy as it is a big decision. Look for a franchisor with a solid reputation, happy franchisees, a great program and track record, growth potential in your area, and a willingness to work with you. Find that, and you are good to go.