My over 25 years experience in the franchising industry has led some people to baptize me “The Philippines’ Franchise Guru”. For me, more than the status such title provides, it is the responsibility of teaching the franchise concept correctly to those I mentor that allows me to accept such a title. It is also accountability to people to continually espouse and share responsible franchising. After all, the burden I have is not only to assist companies expand their business via the franchise route but to make sure franchisees indeed become successful in their chosen franchise concept. As such, I would like to share with those who are planning to get into the franchise business some words of wisdom I have culled through years in the business:
1. NOT TOO FAST YET TOO SLOW: Timing is important when looking for a franchise business. Franchise opportunities need to be well thought of, yet an entrepreneur should not be too slow as opportunities may fade away. Getting into a franchise business cannot eliminate all business risks, they will always be there. So, when analyzing franchise opportunities check where you can minimize these risks. Risk should not hamper you to slow down and let the opportunities pass you by.
2. SHOP AROUND WITH ALL YOUR SENSES: Selecting a franchise is a matter of keeping your senses open to opportunities. Be open to what you will hear or read. Be conscious of your mental baggage and the biases they could create. More importantly, be very sensitive to your feelings. I stand by the basic franchise principle that a franchise relationship is more than a contractual one it is a personal relationship. Check your feelings when you first meet with the franchisor. These initial feelings are critical for you to decide whether you will pursue the franchise or not.
3. FRANCHISE IS NOT JUST ABOUT FOOD: There are good service franchise businesses available in the market. Gone were the days when franchise equals food concepts. Now there are franchises available in almost all sectors of our economy. Shop around and be excited with the tremendous franchise concepts in the market. Collect and select so to speak.
4. ATTEND FRANCHISE SHOWS AND SEMINARS: These will help you understand how franchising works. Even if franchising is world renowned as the most successful way of expanding a business, it is still important that one acquires a working knowledge of what it is, its pros and cons and experiences of franchisees and franchisors. All of these will enable you to make a proper decision. These seminars will also show you that investing in a franchise is not a bed of roses and not a sure guarantee to success.
5. STOP LOOK LISTEN AND INVESTIGATE: Before signing and paying for a franchise, it is best to talk to existing franchisees of that particular business. Listen to what they have to say. Some will be positive about their business but be ready for some who will talk to you about their concerns and problems. After listening to them, analyze and weigh what you heard, then make a decision. Do not just bank on what you hear during the franchise sales presentation.
6. PREPARE A LIST: Make a short list of businesses you would like to get involved in. Be prepared to answer the question, can you be committed to the franchise concept now and in the future. Will you love to do what is required of you? Will you be proud of the business?
7. HONOR THE WORD “T-I-M-E”: Come to meetings on time and submit your requirements to the franchisor according to schedule. Some franchisors will look at this as criteria for accepting you into their franchise family, how well you handle time and deadlines. Make sure you can commit your time to managing the business. Most franchisors will require this.
8. LOVE AND RESPECT THY FAMILY: Seek and have a dialogue with members for their views about the particular franchise being considered; will the members be willing to assist and be a part of it? A common decision to invest in the franchise gives the business a good and auspicious start.
9. WHO ART THOU?: Personality, just exactly what kind of personality traits does one have; the best way to evaluate is aside from doing a self evaluation is to ask best friends; what kind of people are you comfortable dealing with? Does the franchise concept allow you to deal with people you like? If the concept require you to be in an atmosphere full of children and parents, can you withstand the endless noise of children?
10. PEOPLE WHO NEED PEOPLE: How good are you in managing people? A successful franchise never happens in a vacuum or in a solo flight. The action is with people and for people. Are you ready to smile and be sociable to a customer even if you just had a shouting bout with somebody else?
11. SHOW ME THE MONEY: Will you have the resources/money for the entire investment needed by the franchise? Is there an additional budget for the family needs over and above the funds for the franchise? It is important to identify these since as I have said earlier, there will be risks. The first few months will be crucial since you will most definitely not be able get substantial income from the franchise.
12. DOING A TIGHT ROPE WALK: Franchising does not necessarily mean a guaranteed success. What the franchisors say is that they have had their success in their concept and they show you the path so you too will have the same success. However, please take note franchisors’ success was a result of hard work and sleepless nights they devoted to their concept. Are you willing to do the same?
13. PATIENCE: This is a factor to consider in getting a franchise. Franchise business or any business for that matter is very much like a plant. You need the patience to take care of it daily. You would need to cultivate it properly if you want the beautiful flower and the fruit to harvest in the end.
14. HARD TO BELIEVE: If a franchise business seems too good to be, the more you have to evaluate its viability. Veer away from franchisors, who tell you their franchise is a guaranteed success or that you will recover your investment in 3 months time even without any effort from you. If it’s too good to be true and hard to believe then it is not reality.
15. RESPECT THE WORD “T-R-U-S-T”: Once you sign in with your franchisor, build a relationship based on trust with them, and show them that you are trustworthy. Franchisors trust you enough for them to share their business system with you and you have to make sure you take care of this trust.
Franchising has created countless millions worldwide and in the Philippines. While this is a very attractive proposition, this should not blind us and invest right away in a franchise. These millionaires did their share of investigation and hard work. They had responsible franchisors and thus they too became responsible franchisees.
author: Armando O. Bartolome