The harsh franchise reality check – Page 2 of 2 – StartupSmart

For instance, says Kittelty, although he had previously worked as a builder, during the induction process he had to learn how to change the set up and structure of his business.


He says: “Being in a franchise, you always have to follow through. Our business coach will give us guidance on how to grow our business, but for that to happen we have to want to develop it.”


“Our coach asked us what we wanted from her and I told her that if we needed shaking up for any reason, she had permission to do that.”


Being realistic


Kittelty says it’s important to acknowledge trends and business confidence change and franchisees have to be prepared to respond to this.


Michael Renwick, Kittelty’s franchisor, says he’s very conscious of hosing down any unrealistic expectations.


“Some people think we’re a buying group for discounted building materials. Yes, we can buy things cheaper, but that’s not what the franchisee needs to concentrate on; they need to focus on selling more houses to be successful.


“It’s the same with marketing – you run the business, we do the marketing,” Renwick says.


Martin Rose, HydroDog’s franchisor, says he makes a series of careful assessments to determine if a potential franchisee is right for the business.


He says: “Then we put them on the road with a franchisee to have an experience day and after that give them a six-page survey that includes questions like ‘how many other franchisees have you contacted?’ and ‘what did they say?’ to help manage their expectations.”


“If they haven’t spoken to other franchisees, that tells us to be very cautious. We will not proceed until they have done their homework.”


It’s all in the paperwork


Indeed, Phil Blain, franchise expert and the co-author of The Franchisee’s Guide, says the bible of every potential franchisee should be the disclosure document.


‘Thanks to recent legislative changes franchisees are now able to access critical details in the disclosure document like full details of existing franchisees and also people who have left the system.”


“Contacting these people is a great place to start. You also need to draw up questions like ‘are you making the money you thought you would?’, ‘are you getting the support you thought you would’ and ‘if you had your time again would you still get into the franchise?’” says Blain.


“Make sure you ask other franchisees the same questions so you get consistency in responses. Of course, not everyone is happy 100% of the time, but if seven or eight people out of ten are happy, it’s probably a good franchise,” he says.


Grant Cairns, the Commonwealth Bank’s general manager, industry and banking specialists, says it’s important to understand the difference between a franchise and running your own business before investing.


“A franchise is often a useful framework for someone who has never owned their own business because it provides structure and support.”


“And a benefit of working in a franchise is that the franchisor understands the regulatory environment and is best placed to provide support on new regulations and rules around workplace relations and occupational health and safety,” says Cairns.


“You do need to work within the system, but lots of franchises give the franchisee the opportunity to be creative with marketing and structurally. They are trying to set them up for success.”


Five essential tips for prospective franchisees:

  • Make sure you understand exactly what you will pay before you make a commitment.
  • Be wary of franchises that offer the opportunity to make a lot of money without a lot of work.
  • Ask plenty of questions and ring other franchisees that are already up and running before making any commitments.
  • Stay abreast of changing trends and business conditions in the area or industry you might be getting into.
  • Critically assess details in the disclosure document such as existing franchisees and also people who have left the system.

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