by: Jordan Gandy
Well, maybe….I think so…
That would be my train of thought and answer to that question on most days. Franchising has been really fun at times; it also has been really frustrating at times. I have loved our franchisor at times; other times I have wanted to strangle someone at the home office. I can only imagine this wave of ups and downs, celebrations and frustrations, is common in any other franchise as well, and in any other business for that matter.
To say I have a love/hate relationship with my franchisor would be fairly accurate. I will share what I love and what I hate, and if you are considering buying a franchise I hope this list might be of some help.
What I Hate
“You can’t do that.” Make no mistake, if you are buying into a franchise you are buying into someone else’s system. I have had great ideas that are not in compliance, and therefore cannot be executed. I, as the business owner, surely know what my customers want, what would make us money, right? But if my brilliant idea cannot get approved up the chain of command, it falls to the ocean floor seemingly never to surface again. If you do not like playing by someone else’s rules, a franchise is not for you.
Layers and bureaucracy. If you are getting out of the corporate world to be your own boss, a franchise may be the perfect fit. But be careful, if your franchisor is a large, established, company, sometimes they can be slow to move just like any other large company because there are so many layers of people and policies to get through. As a franchisee, you will always have your customers, employees, and suppliers to deal with just like any other business. But you will also always have your franchisor to deal with—make sure you choose one you like working with.
Growth of my business has to be done within the guidelines of the franchisor. I cannot open new locations anywhere I want, and I my current locations can only be protected to a certain point from other franchisees opening near me. Make sure you understand the future development process of any franchise you are looking to invest in.
What I Love
“I know I can trust you guys.” The brand, bottom line, is worth the royalty I pay to use it. Otherwise I would get out of this system and open up as an independent. In retail, a strong, worldwide brand creates instant rapport with customers. Consider the strength of the brand of your prospective franchise.
A team of people at our home office is looking 5, 10, and 20 years into the future at how our industry will develop. I believe they will see some opportunities before I do, and are putting ideas, relationships, and systems into place today that will allow our business to continue to grow in the future. We have a great track record of responding to change. Look at the track record of a franchise, how have they adapted their model to changing customer demands and business climate?
Resources. Professional design—I have access to that. Giant corporate printers—I have access to that. Financial help—I have access to that. Strategic vendor partners—that too. One of the biggest selling points I love to tell customers is that by doing business with me, they get the best of two worlds. They get to deal with a local owner who cares significantly about customer service because my reputation is on the line, so I’m going to take care of them. But because I am connected to a worldwide brand, they get access to resources that the guy down the street may not be able to provide. Look at the depth of your franchise…will they be able to give you resources that you can utilize for yourself and for your customers?
I believe these are good questions for anyone thinking of buying into a franchise to ask. I also think you should speak with as many current franchisees as possible in the system you are looking at. Accept that there will be plenty of pros and cons, and ask yourself if the pros outweigh the cons. For me, they have.
About The Author
Jordan Gandy oversees operations for 4 The UPS Stores, including one inside The Hilton in Downtown Austin. We specialize in printing quality products with a quick turn around and providing mailboxes, freight, and other solutions to small businesses.