Before you buy into a franchise...

score Question:
I'm interested in obtaining a franchise and am reviewing a number of them. How do I select the right one?

Franchising is one of the fastest-growing business opportunities. However, picking the right one can be a chore, unless you know the right steps.

Anyone thinking about buying a franchise should develop a well-thought-out plan of how to proceed.

Here are a few steps you might want to consider:

  • Make a list of your assets, personal strengths, resources and limitations. Find out what you do well so you can match it up to the demands of the franchises you will be examining.
  • Read franchise information carefully. When you contact the franchiser for information, you will receive a detailed, extensive report known as the Uniform Franchise Offering Circular.

    Focus on the selections that tell you about the franchiser, the investment you will have to make and fees you will have to pay, and what the overall network system looks like, including units and locales.

  • Match your strengths with the demands of the franchsie system. Which one would you be able to do best in, and which fits your style of operation? This is the one you should consider.
  • Make a list of your concerns and questions and talk to the franchiser. There may be things that are still unclear.
  • Get everything in writing. It's nice to be promised that the francise fee ranges from $5,000 to $8,000, but it's even nicer to know that the fee for your facility will be $5,000 as stated in your written agreement.
  • Eliminate inefficiency. If you decide to proceed with the franchise, it's important to be as efficient as you can. Franchise operations often produce much smaller profits than you think, so it pays to cut waste at every turn.
  • Remember also that the people you hire will ultimately determine whether you succeed or fail. So hire the best, train them well and supervise their work until you are satisfied it's the best. Even if you have to pay them more, you'll get it all back in time and money saved.

  • Work hard to establish a relationship with your customers. Whatever franchise you choose, there'll be plenty of competition. You need to figure ou how to get the customer coming back to you and not going to one of the others. A well-trained staff will go far in fulfilling this task. Keep the ones you have rather than getting new ones and going through the expense and pains of training new staff.
  • Bill Bryan is a counselor with the Service Corps of Retired Executives. SCORE offers counseling, workshops and seminars on small business operations. You can reach Bryan through SCORE, 515 N Court St. 815-962-0122, for information and appointments.

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