The Fine Print on Franchises: What You Need to Know Before Signing on the Dotted Line

The Fine Print on Franchises: What you need to know before signing on the dotted line.

Franchises offer entrepreneurs many benefits, including marketing tools and expertise, lots of back room support, and training to help new business owners succeed.

The road to the right franchise, however, may present some rough terrain to cross, which is why preparation is so critical. Every potential new franchisee needs to take the time to read the fine print before signing any contracts.

The good news is that Federal Trade Commission regulations provide a good safety net, which goes a long way toward helping potential new franchisees avoid getting a raw deal. A franchise coach can help you through the nitty-gritty of this process.

You will want to get a copy of the franchise disclosure document, which franchisors are required by law to provide you at least 14 days before you sign a contract or pay any money. You can ask for the document in any format convenient for you.

Before signing any contracts, we recommend you consult a franchise attorney who has the expertise to help you review what can be a long and complex agreement. In the meantime, as you begin your preliminary research, here’s what you should look for:

Franchisor’s Background

You want to know how long the franchisor has been in business. What’s the competition like? Pay close attention to the general business backgrounds of the company executives and how long they’ve been with the company and in the industry.

Litigation history

Has the franchisor been involved in any litigation with their franchisees? Have any of its executives been convicted of fraud or other violations of franchise law? Have franchisees filed law suits against the franchisor? These would all be red flags to further investigate if not disqualify this franchisor from your search.

Initial and Ongoing Costs

This is critical information since you never want to find yourself short on funds or surprised by costs you should have known about. Examples of costs franchisees face are: advertising, business promotions, operating licenses, inventory, royalty payments, cost to purchase equipment, and insurance, among others.

Only by estimating your costs can you realistically evaluate franchise operations to see if you have the capital to succeed in this business.

Restrictions

Franchisors may restrict from whom you order supplies, what you may offer for sale and where you can sell. Each franchisor will have different ways of determining a territory, which is meant to protect current franchisees but may not be satisfactory to you. For example, Dunkin’ Donuts has restrictions limiting some franchisees from also offering 31 Flavors ice cream.

Training

While franchisors offer training, you need to know who is eligible for training and who pays. Are new employees eligible? Are support staff available for ongoing support? Again, make sure you know all the costs.

Advertising

Franchises often are asked to contribute a portion of their earnings for advertising. Get the details on what the franchisor requires. What percentage of the advertising budget is spent in your area? Will local advertising amount to extra out-of-pocket costs?

Current and Former Franchises

Plan on talking to as many current franchisees as possible. Ask them what you will need to do to succeed. Also talk to former franchisees to learn what went wrong for them. Make sure you ask financial questions, such as their total investment, and how long it took them to recover their initial investment. What are their earnings? Franchisees’ income might vary quite a bit, depending on geographic area, the skill and commitment of the owner, and other factors.

Financial History

You want to make sure the franchise company is financially stable since you certainly don’t want the company to go out of business just after you invested your money. You also want to ensure the franchisor has sufficient money to supporting its franchise system. You will have access to the financial statements of the franchise company, so review them – or better still, have an accountant review them for you.

For more information, check out the FTC’s website, which has published a consumer guide to buying a franchise at http://www.business.ftc.gov/documents/inv05-buying-franchise-consumer-guide

 

 

Ready to make your dream of becoming an entrepreneur come true?

Get your free evaluation today!

 

Contact Dan Citrenbaum to create the career you’ve always wanted. As a Franchise Coach, Dan brings years of experience helping people select and buy a franchise or existing business. You can reach Dan at dcitrenbaum@gmail.com or at (484) 278-4589.

 

©Dan Citrenbaum 06/2015

 

Are You Cut Out for a Franchise? Take the Quiz!

Are You Cut Out for a Franchise? Take the Quiz!

Buying a franchise is one of the quickest, safest ways to start your own business, but a franchise is not for everyone, particularly if you’re the type of person who likes to blaze your own trail.

For starters, to be successful with a franchise — that is to maximize your potential earnings — you must be prepared to follow the franchisor’s system, the time-tested method the company has for virtually every aspect of its operations, including staffing protocols, an advertising campaign and store build-out plans.

After working with dozens of franchisees over the years, I still see new franchisees decide they can cut corners, for example, by declining to hire enough people to cover the day-to-day responsibilities of meeting the needs of customers.

The owner may decide to save money by doing some of the work himself, for example, cleaning houses or caring for seniors. As a result the owner has less time to build the business, creating a steady and growing clientele to generate earnings. While that owner may save some upfront costs, he or she loses long-term earnings potential.

So how do you know if you are a good candidate for a franchise? Answer eight easy questions:

  1. Are you prepared to thoroughly research the business?

Selecting a franchise may be your first most important step, and the process requires solid research, from reading background materials to putting shoe leather to pavement and visiting franchisees.

  1. Are you prepared to work hard?
  2. Just because the business comes with a system doesn’t mean you won’t have a learning curve. Of course, once you have good employees in place and operations running smoothly, many franchise operations will allow you to take an afternoon for golf or to attend a child’s track meet. Many franchisees set a realistic goal to work 30 to 35 hours per week within three to five years of starting their business.
  1. Can you call for assistance when needed?
  2. A good franchisor wants to help you through the start-up phase, so to take full advantage of what you’re paying for, you need to be willing to ask for guidance. A good franchisor will likely offer many good suggestions, possibly a long to-do list that will require time to implement.
  1. Do you have enough capital to set up the business to operate as designed?
  2. Before you buy the franchise, your research should have told you how long it will take to operate in the black, and the Franchise Disclosure Document will tell you your upfront expenses. Getting to profitability varies by location and franchisee. You will need to be work hard and pay operating expenses for some time before earnings begin.
  1. Can you accept paying the franchisor royalties and other specified fees?
  2. These fees are the price you pay for a proven operating system, built-in research and development, a fully vetted list of suppliers, as well as an advertising campaign and ongoing support and training.
  1. Will you accept structure in your business?
  2. If you would rather create your own approach to a unique business that reflects your particular vision for a product line or service, you don’t want a franchise.
  1. Can you accept advice from authority?
  2. When you buy into a franchise system, you are part of a team, and the franchisor needs each of its franchisees to present a consistent image to the buying public. No reinventing the system.
  1. And, most importantly, can you trust the system to work? Ideally, you will answer yes to each of these questions. If you answered no to more than two, then you might want to consider an independent business. I also suggest you consult a franchise coach, who is in the business to help you make the best decision to ensure success. Ready to make your dream of becoming an entrepreneur come true?
  2. If the answer is no, then don’t buy the franchise.

 

Ready to make your dream of becoming an entrepreneur come true?

Get your free evaluation today!

 

Contact Dan Citrenbaum to create the career you’ve always wanted. As a Franchise Coach, Dan brings years of experience helping people select and buy a franchise or existing business. You can reach Dan at dcitrenbaum@gmail.com or at (484) 278-4589.

 

©Dan Citrenbaum 05/2015

 

Sick and Tired of Your Job? Try Our Entrepreneur’s Checklist

Sick and tired of your job?

Try our Entrepreneur’s Checklist

If you’re one of the 90 percent of Americans employed full time by someone else, chances are you’re not feeling much satisfaction at work. Some of you are stuck with a boss who makes your lives miserable, while others may be merely bored or vastly under appreciated

Only 30 percent of Americans are actively engaged in their jobs, according to a recent Gallup report, State of the American Workplace. Not only does being unhappy at work lead to a whole range of obvious complaints, it can also take a toll on your health, the survey reported

One way to improve your situation is to strike out on your own. So how do you know if you’ve got what it takes to run your own business?

Just like most things in life, what separates the whizzes from the also rans is preparation. Do your research, write a realistic business plan, raise sufficient capital and your odds for success go way up.

Even before you pinpoint your business, you’ll need to start by asking yourself key questions to determine whether you’re ready to leave a sure paycheck for the chance to take charge of your career for life.

Entrepreneur’s Checklist

Support from your family

When undertaking such a major life change, it’s critical you have your family behind your decision to give up your job to follow your dream. As you may go through a financial fallow period, their support can help you persevere.

Commitment and dedication to making your business succeed

You’ve heard the phrase: You’ve gotta want it more than anything else. Or how about: Hungry for success. The point is you have to believe in yourself even when faced by setbacks. Sometimes that means aggressively courting clients or revising your business plan. Surround yourself with critical support, including a good attorney, accountant and business coach.

Sufficient capitalization or willingness to take on debt

While you will likely need to finance some of your startup costs, you should have sufficient resources set aside to get you through the startup period until revenue begins to exceed costs and the profits start rolling in.

Management Skills

If this is one of your strengths, bravo, but if not, you may need to investigate what it takes to manage employees. If you choose a franchise, you’ll get ongoing training to help you learn the art of hiring, retaining and getting the most out of your workers. Alternatively, you could purchase one of the many franchises that do not have any employees other than the owner.

Marketing

How do you see yourself getting customers? The answer to this question will dictate which businesses best suit your style. If you’re an expert at networking, you’ll likely find it easy to develop a clientele. For those who prefer that customers find them, either due to a good location or national advertising campaign, you might want to try a retail operation.

Desire to develop your own or follow someone else’s system

You may be well suited to a franchise if you like the idea of following a system that’s been perfected over time and working well for franchisees around the country. Or you may prefer to control every aspect of your business and make your own unique contribution to the marketplace.

Tolerance for Risk

Even in today’s job market where a steady job is no sure thing, starting your own business requires you to be comfortable with risk. If you believe in your vision and have the moxy to push through the learning phase, you greatly improve your odds.

If you’ve checked most of the items above and you’re ready to move forward, we recommend you consult a coach to help you decide on a business that suits your skills and experience.

Once you turn the tables and occupy the boss’s chair yourself, don’t forget you still want to make your employees feel valued, help develop their strengths so they, too, can feel satisfied and engaged at work. After all, you’ve already walked in those shoes. And happier employees can go a long way toward helping you make your business a success.

 

 

Ready to make your dream of becoming an entrepreneur come true?

Get your free evaluation today!

 

Contact Dan Citrenbaum to help you create the career you’ve always wanted. Dan brings years of experience helping people select and buy a franchise or existing business. You can reach Dan at dcitrenbaum@gmail.com or at (484)278-4589.

 

© Dan Citrenbaum 04/2015

For Better Balance Between Work and Home – Go Into Business for Yourself with a Franchise

For Better Balance Between Work and Home

Go Into Business for Yourself with a Franchise

 

Whether you’re looking for better work-home balance or just want to make extra money working at home, you may find the perfect solution with a franchise.

In the wide world of franchising, you’re limited only by your imagination to find a home-based business that works for you.  Opportunities abound in fields as far-flung as IT services, business coaching, workplace drug testing and modifying homes for seniors and the disabled.

The benefits of buying a franchise include a tried and true system, a ready-made marketing program, support and training.

When you locate your business at home, you gain lower overhead costs, as well as extra time to spend with your spouse, your kids or other passions and still have the opportunity to make a good income. What the home-based franchises share are:

  • Few or no employees
  • Contact with customers mainly by telephone or you bringing your business to them
  • Easily available technology at home and
  • Limited space needs

A franchise coach can help you match a good franchise to your personality, your budget and your lifestyle, but you can do a lot, as well, to narrow down your options.

Start your search on line–the International Franchise Association is a good place–for businesses that suit your skills and experience.  Then talk to franchisees to get a good understanding of how the franchisor’s support and services have worked out for them.

Before you ever sign your name to any dotted line, you can learn how long it takes to earn a profit, how many hours a week you’ll need to work and whether the business suits your interests and areas of expertise.

With a bit of research and due diligence, you’ll discover you really can have it all: time for family, fun and a booming business.

 

Ready to make your dream of becoming an entrepreneur come true?

Get your free evaluation today!

Contact Dan Citrenbaum to help you create the career you’ve always wanted. Dan brings years of experience helping people select and buy a franchise or existing business. You can reach Dan at dcitrenbaum@gmail.com or at (484)278-4589

 

 

©Dan Citrenbaum 02/2015

Wondering When the Profits Will Start Rolling In? Find Out Before You Invest in a New Franchise!

Wondering When the Profits Will Start Rolling In?  Find Out Before You Invest in a New Franchise!

So you’ve selected a franchise and have your initial investment capital saved and now you want to know: How much money will I make? To answer the question you’ll need to weigh your costs against expected potential revenues.

The beauty of a franchise is you actually have a good shot at figuring all these numbers out. Between the financial disclosure document (FDD) and information available from existing franchisees, you can get a good feel for expenses, as well as potential revenues, so long as you factor in differences related to location, local market and, not to be forgotten, the range of talents and experience individual franchisees bring to their businesses.

Why is it so important to do this math upfront? In a phrase, operating capital.

Lots of folks eager to become entrepreneurs for all the usual reasons -to control your own schedule, achieve work-life balance, be your own boss, and make more money -may neglect to factor in all the capital requirements.

At the beginning of a new business comes the transitional stage. This means you need money to run your business until you learn your way around a new market, new procedures and customer care. During this transition, you won’t generate enough revenue to cover expenses. So it’s essential you have enough capital to keep the circuits humming.

Your first task is to get a realistic sense of how much capital you need to get started. Fortunately, the FDD will provide this view of your costs. Some companies will even provide an idea of potential earnings. A franchise coach can help guide you through the process, but it’s never too early to start your research.

Three Keys to Understanding Your Potential Earnings

Know your Timetable

Most businesses take three to 12 months to start earning profits. The slowest to become profitable are franchises with a lot of costs or ones that take longer to build a customer base. And if the margins are thinner, you need to generate more volume. For example, a document shredding franchise, which requires expensive equipment, may take as long as 18 months to run in the black but can eventually become quite lucrative. Retail franchises can be among the quickest to turn a profit because a good location will quickly draw customers.

Accurately Estimate Your Fixed Costs

The franchise disclosure document provides a list of all your costs -everything you need to open -which are far more extensive than just the initial franchise fee. Examples of the types of fees you’ll find under Items 5 and 6 in the FDD are: IT and system setup and initial marketing. Then comes ongoing fees, such as local marketing additional training, ongoing IT or software costs, costs for audits, insurance, and on and on. In short, all of the costs you would expect to encounter.

In your calculations, you should also factor in the cost of consulting an attorney and accountant, which we strongly recommend.

Estimate Potential Income

Flip now to Item 19 of the FDD to read if the franchisor has made any earnings claims. Only about one-third of franchisors make earnings claims, and how franchise companies address this issue varies.

To fill out the picture, your most important information can be found in Item 20, where you’ll find a list of franchisees. You want to call as many franchisees as possible, preferably those operating in locations similar to yours, to verify all the information in the FDD and get an idea on profits. Word to the wise, avoid the question: How much money do you earn? Instead, try a softer approach, such as: “How long until I can expect to make $100,000.”Then try out different income amounts.

All three steps are essential to your preparation. Doing the due diligence required to choose the right franchise upfront will help you experience the pleasure of being your own boss for years to come.

 

Ready to make your dream of becoming an entrepreneur come true?

Get your free evaluation today!

Contact Dan Citrenbaum to help you create the career you’ve always wanted. As a franchise coach, Dan brings years of experience helping people select and buy a franchise or existing business. You can reach Dan at dcitrenbaum@gmail.com or at (484)278-4589.

 

©Dan Citrenbaum 01/2015