Layoffs coming? Consider a Business You Can Call Your Own

In an era of big mergers, most notably the recent link-up of H.J. Heinz Co. and Kraft Foods Group, the all-too-often consequence is mass layoffs.

First we hear about all the economies of scale and efficiencies to be generated, and then a fresh group of experienced, seasoned professionals are cut loose into the workforce. In the case of Kraft Heinz, the first announced round of layoffs amounted to 2,500, but the company has huge cost reductions still planned, which will likely mean even more layoffs.

While the company casually sails along, these good employees may find themselves left aimless and adrift.

For folks at mid-career, somewhere between the ages of 50 and retirement, anecdotal evidence abounds about how difficult it is to get a new job at a comparable level in corporate America, even at a time of increased awareness of age discrimination.

But these talented professionals are hardly without options.

One possibility is to consider putting your skills and experience to work for yourself. Even without any experience running your own show, there is one option that provides a ready-made system, as well as all the support you would need to help you get the hang of it all.

That is: A good franchise. The question is how to determine what constitutes a “good” franchise.

Five Steps to Figure Out if a Franchise is for You

Look and Listen

Your own senses can tell you a lot. Look around and start to notice all the different types of businesses that are, in fact, franchises. You’ll find a lot more than fast food. Plenty may actually be operated out of the owner’s home, from maid and cleaning services to business support services. Check out the International Franchise Association website — www.franchise.org — to get a glimpse of this growing sector of our economy that includes more than 7,000 franchises across 75 industries. Ask around and learn from friends and family, who may have experiences with franchises.

Consult a Franchise Coach

Absolutely free, these consultants offer an invaluable service because they already have an established track record with a set of franchises. In addition, their ongoing contacts provide them the opportunity to learn about problems within a specific franchise, so you can skip franchises that may be undergoing a difficult transition or having growing pains. They will also attempt to match a franchise to your own particular set of skills and interests and so save you time in the long run.

Talk to Some Franchise Companies

Pick up the phone and call franchise companies that interest you. Sure they’re trying to sell their franchise, but they will also answer specific questions about what the day-to-day life of the owner is like, how the franchise company supports franchisees, and how much it costs to set up a franchise with their company. They can also tell you what qualities they look for in franchisees, and you can get a feel for whether this franchise would work for you or not and if its cost falls within your budget.

Read the Franchise Disclosure Document

The Federal Trade Commission requires all franchisors to disclose particular aspects of their businesses to potential franchisees, and it must be written in standard English. This is essential reading for any franchise you are seriously considering. You can get a complete rundown of the costs, you will learn the history of the franchise and its executives, whether they or the company have been involved in litigation, and some will even provide earnings estimates, though this item is not required.

Interview Franchisees

As perhaps the most important step in the process, you can check all the information you’ve received so far with the folks with all the hands-on experience. Talk to as many franchisees as possible and ask them how they’re doing, how the franchisor’s support and system has worked and whether they would buy this franchise again. You can also ask them how the numbers add up. How much capital did they need to keep their business operating until they could start earning a profit? And how much can a person expect to earn from this franchise? Not all franchisees will answer this question, but many will.

While you may have heard a lot of things about franchising, the truth is there exists a huge variety of franchises, good and bad, each requiring different types of experience. The trick is to figure out what type of franchise might work for you and treat the process as you would any important investment in your life, with thorough preparation.

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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 2015