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How do you know which franchise will work well for you? Alan Wilkinson on the questions you should ask yourself

So you have decided that you want to take on a franchise, but you’re not sure which, of the 900-plus brands available in the UK franchise marketplace, to choose. A good place to start is examining how much capital you have available. Many franchise brands, and certainly the good ones, will have arrangements in place with high-street banks who, generally, are willing to lend 50 to 70 per cent of the funds needed. This could double your buying power, and open up opportunities that you thought were out of your price bracket.

Next, think about the kind of industry you might like to work in. This may be a sector in which you have previous experience, or may be a totally new venture for you. Some franchisors will require relevant experience, which may exclude you from the off, but many, however, welcome recruits with no previous career in their sector as they provide training in the skills required to make a success of the business. Think about your own core strengths and how these may be an advantage to you in certain fields. Do you enjoy working on your own, or as part of a team? Do you want to be home-based, work from a van, or have a property-based business?

You should now be narrowing down your options. Start to apply for information on the businesses that interest you, and for which you have the required funding. You may have seen a specific opportunity that has caught your eye, or have simply decided to investigate a particular sector, and look at a number of brands. Do some research, and make some enquiries. The British Franchise Association (bfa) website is always a good starting point.

Once you have registered your interest, the franchisor will start the recruitment process with you. Approaches will vary from brand to brand – some will communicate with you via email, some will call you, and some will post information out to you. Whichever method they employ, it is important that you engage with it, as this then becomes a two-way flow of information. Whilst you are investigating the suitability of the business, the franchisor is, in turn, considering whether or not you match their ideal franchisee profile, and if you have the skills that they require.

When you have identified a business or a number of businesses that you would like to investigate further, arrange to meet with them. A good, well-structured franchisor will have a recruitment system that they will expect you to follow. This should give you plenty of opportunity to raise any enquiries that you might have, to meet them and their teams, and to speak to existing franchisees of their systems. Before you attend any meeting, make sure you are prepared. Research the business and go armed with a list of things to ask – again, the bfa website has good suggested questions to start with.

You will need to satisfy yourself that the culture and ethos of the business is one that you are comfortable with, and that the franchisor will help and support you in your business both initially and on an ongoing basis. Likewise, the franchisor must believe that you have the skills and attributes required to run a successful franchise under their branding.

This process should involve a lot of due diligence and research and should not be rushed. The timescale from your first enquiry to making the decision to join a franchise may be many months. Take your time, investigate those franchises that interest you and that are within your budget, and you will find the right franchise for you.

Alan Wilkinson
Head of Franchise Development

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