One of the things we hear most often in the world of franchising is “it’s all about fit”. In order to really thrive as a franchisee, it’s essential you determine you’re a good fit with your franchisor (and vice versa) before buying or investing in the concept.
But, how can you really know? One of the best ways to know is to ask the right questions throughout the sales process. Here are 3 things to look for to determine whether a particular franchise brand is a good fit before joining it.
One of the first things to determine is the brand’s core values, and whether they align with your own.
There are a variety of reasons women get into franchising, and many have to do with their personal values. For example, some women decide to buy a franchise because of the impact it can have on their community. Others want to set an example and leave a legacy for their children.
First determine your values and what you’re trying to achieve through franchise ownership.
A great way to do this is through an assessment, like the franchise-specific one offered by Zoracle Profiles. It will give you an objective view of your values and competencies, as well as your ideal business culture and franchise business type fit (emerging brand vs. legacy).
Then, speak with the franchisor to determine whether their values align with yours and if you share the same vision for your path forward.
Matching values isn’t just a sign of a good fit between you and the franchisor, it also can be a predictor of future success since a strong set of values is at the core of every good brand.
“Companies that have clearly stated purposes and that truly live and breathe their core values tend to outperform their competitors,” says Angela Coté, Franchise Growth Catalyst, “and this is true for both franchise and non-franchise brands.”
Do you want to go all-in on the business and work far longer than 40 hours a week? Are you looking to be a passive investor and hiring a management team to handle the day to day?
Or, do you fall somewhere in between? Perhaps keeping your full-time job and running the franchise on the side, or being very involved at first and slowly handing things over to your staff.
There are many paths to franchise ownership, so first decide which is best for you and then find a brand that can help you achieve your goals. If you need guidance narrowing down your options, consider working with a franchise consultant or coach who has a pulse on many different brands, and the ownership options within each of those.
A good franchise consultant will ask about your values and goals, both business and personal, to help you find a concept that will help you achieve the lifestyle you seek.
We saw a great example of this when speaking with Debbie Lou on the Franchise Rising Podcast.
Passionate about animals, Debbie saw herself owning a pet-related concept. But after working with a coach, she realized that other opportunities would actually be the better way to help her reach her goals.
Instead of a pet-focused business, Debbie is now the owner of a College Nannies, Sitters, and Tutors franchise. She wouldn’t have even considered the option if not for her franchise coach, Diane Pleuss, but couldn’t be happier with where she’s ended up.
As a general rule, newer (or emerging) franchises allow for more entrepreneurial creativity than more established (or legacy) brands. So, one of your first major decisions is to determine which is best for you.
We love the analogy from Jen Saxton, who calls a business’ first 10 franchisees “pioneers,” and those after that “settlers.”
Generally, pioneers are those who are willing to take more risk than a settler. They generally have solid financials, and can fall back on savings or a partner’s income if needed. They might not even be looking to buy a franchise, but instead are looking for a great business opportunity. They have an entrepreneurial spirit, and want to shape their business and the brand’s direction as a whole.
Settlers, on the other hand, tend to be more risk-averse. They may be seeking a smaller initial investment, or know they don’t want to risk too much financially. Often, they are attracted to franchise opportunities because of the proven systems and processes of recognizable brands.
Of course, there’s a spectrum - you don’t have to be just a pioneer, or only a settler. In fact, the most successful franchisees are usually a combination of the two. They’re systems-oriented, but also have a touch of entrepreneurial spirit.
No matter which camp you fall into, it’s important you discuss expectations with the franchisor before making the decision to join the franchise. You don’t want to go into an opportunity expecting freedom and flexibility, only to find you’re more restricted than you expected.
This happened to Emily Palmer, European Wax Center franchisee. As an entrepreneur who had already opened an independent mortgage brokerage, Emily was used to making her own decisions and driving the direction of her business. She was taken aback initially by some of the restrictions the brand had in place, and didn’t have some of the freedom she was used to in her other business.
She understands the restrictions, of course - as a franchise grows larger, it’s essential more systems and processes are put in place to protect the integrity of the brand. She just hadn’t thought to ask specific questions about what she could and couldn’t do before joining the franchise, so some of the systems caught her by surprise.
Her advice to women looking to join a franchise is to research, research, research. First, research all of the opportunities available to you. Don’t be shy about asking questions to corporate during the sales process, and dig deep when asking questions to franchisees during validation.
This advice is helpful no matter what aspect of the franchise you’re looking into, since research is the key to determining whether a franchise brand is the right fit for you.
It’s important you go into your franchise opportunity (or any business opportunity) with your eyes wide open - the more you can figure out in advance, the better.
Looking for more questions to ask before joining a franchise? Here are some ideas from Angela Coté.