The key to success in anything is training and preparation. This is particularly true in franchising. All franchise training will not be the same from franchisor to franchisor. There is more than one way to train properly and there are different needs in different industries. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t bad training. It’s important to know about the training ritual of the franchise you’re looking at before making any decision either way.
Different franchisors will also offer training to different degrees such as only training during startup or offering a continual training program for years. You will have to decide on what you’re looking for before you settle on a franchisor to make sure they’ll be willing to fill your needs.
Training will cover a variety of subjects from company specific protocols, customer service training, ordering, and their specific technology. All modern businesses use some form of technology. You will find that they all have different systems as well. You will need to be trained on that system, knowing it in and out in order to train your new employees on how to use it.
After you’ve signed the agreement and are entered into training with the franchisor, now is the time to ask any and all specific questions there are when it comes to running the business and taking care of day-to-day duties. This is also the time to ask questions for nifty tricks on staying on task, organization of the company paperwork, and more. You should never leave training with questions that prohibit you from doing your job’s usual duties. If you have questions about the material you’re being taught or need it explained again, do not be afraid to ask. Training is the foundation of success and you will be the one setting up everyone in your store with the training they need. You can’t expect anyone else to succeed if you don’t know what you’re doing to begin with.
You should be allotted the franchise opportunity to work with other franchisees during training or during the earlier stages of setting up your franchise. If your franchisor doesn’t offer it, request that you shadow franchisees prior to opening your own store so you can see how they run the show and pick up some of their tricks. When you’re given this opportunity, it’s your chance to take notes and a lot of them. You should be asking questions for anything that you’re unsure about at this point, which can include what a typical day looks like for a franchisee.
When you receive the FDD from your franchisor, it will have a list of current and past franchisees. You should call as many of them as you can and ask about their experiences. You will need to keep in mind that not everyone who left the franchise will have done so on a positive note and it will be important to approach their opinions and experiences objectively. Emotion can jade and influence a memory or impression. You’ll find that stories that show consistency you’re more likely to believe vs. various people who left for personal reasons and the one who has nothing but trash talk to say about a franchisor. Many times the problems one has in a partnership are caused by the same person who is mad—like a renter who shows anger to a landlord for kicking them out when they hadn’t followed the renter’s agreement and failed to correct themselves multiple times.
Know that when you contact franchisees, they aren’t obligated to talk to you about anything, including the franchisor. You’re asking them a favor for their time, so always try to accommodate them. Call them at slower times, don’t call them when they are off the clock unless they asked you to, and so on. Some may have signed a non-disclosure agreement which will make it 100% impossible to legally talk about anything.
When you call, state who you are and ask if it’s a good time. If it’s not, ask when their schedule might allow it if they’re interested in talking to you. Franchisees get calls on a regular basis from prospective franchisees, so just be honest about who you are and safe yourself the trouble. To make this even easier, you can tell the franchisor ahead of time that you intend to call franchisees. Give him a list of names that you’re considering calling and he can call them ahead of time to warn them about your possibly call.
When you call, don’t be shy or bashful about the questions or concerns you might have about opening a franchise. Speak your mind, but be respectful. If you have questions about the financial side of things, just say them. You should prepare all your questions ahead of time so you waste as little of the franchisees time as possible. Bring a pen with you to write down any notes or answers you think you might want to look at later down the line.
Many franchisors chose to open stores in the towns they live in simply because they are already planted there. Moving is expensive. Franchising is expensive, throwing the two together is an expensive mess of stress, not that you couldn’t do it if you wanted to. A franchisor will always be involved in location picking to insure top quality of the property and a nearby market for you. Remember that your success is just as important to them as it is to you because you are representing them. If your location fails, they will also lose money and sometimes worse.
Even with your franchisor’s help, you should be doing research on the population in a certain area, traffic pattern in the area, other businesses that are like yours in the area and any other things that might change the traffic in your establishment.
These are just some of the reasons why getting a second opinion on location is important—especially if you’re placing it somewhere you’ve never been or somewhere you just moved to.