All About Franchising: Guidelines and Resources
Sections of This Topic Include
Introduction to Franchising
Preparing to Become a Franchise Owner
Selecting the Right Franchise
Funding Your Franchise
Related Library Topics
INTRODUCTION TO FRANCHISING
You have probably heard the term “franchise” and already have a sense
of what it means. When learning more about franchising, it helps to consider
franchising as a very popular business model. It includes two key roles:
- The franchisor, who is a person or organization that owns
certain assets, including proprietary products and services, business practices
and intellectual property (especially the business’s brand, for example, its
name, logo and colors).
- The franchisee, who is a person or organization that has
gained the rights from the franchisor (by signing a Franchise Agreement) to
use its assets, while also selling its products and services.
The franchisee is usually referred to having “bought the franchise,”
even though the franchisor is the owner of the franchise itself. (Technically,
the Agreement between the two parties is the “franchise”.)
As you know, there are numerous everyday examples of this. Think of the most
common fast-food restaurants that you have probably drive by almost everyday,
such as McDonald’s, Ace Hardware, Midas muffler shops, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell
Pros of Buying a Franchise from a Franchisor
Depending on the terms in the franchisor’s Franchise Agreement, the benefits
for the franchisee can include:
- A time-tested business model, including its products and services, operating
practices and intellectual property
- The familiarity and reputation of the brand (research shows customers are
often more loyal to an organization’s brand than to its products and services)
- Access to a group of customers who are loyal to the brand (the extent of
the access depends on the location of the franchise)
- Training programs about operating the business model itself
- Ongoing advice and support from the franchisor about starting and operating
- Savings in time, effort and money from otherwise having to start a new business
model from the ground up
- The franchisor’s ongoing advertising of the franchise’s products and services
- Easier access to get business funding because lenders’ loans are servicing
a proven business model
- Franchisor’s discounts on prices of supplies and inventory
Cons of Buying a Franchise
Depending on the terms in the franchise agreement, the challenges for the franchisee
- Significant startup costs, including an initial, one-time franchise (or
license) fee often between $50,000 to $500,000
- Ongoing royalty payments, usually monthly and based on a percentage of the
franchisee’s monthly revenues
- Facilities costs, including of property and buildings to match the franchisor’s
- Frequent monitoring of the franchisor’s rules and regulations, which could
be updated at least annually
- Ensuring strong conformance to those rules and regulations
- Regular reporting of operations and financials to the franchisor
- A reputation that is always tied to the franchisor’s, as well
Pros And Cons Of Buying A Franchise
Have You Considered Alternatives? (add root URL)
Are Your Options When You Begin Your Business
Franchise or New Venture?
That Depends on You
Are the Alternatives to Franchising?
PREPARING TO BECOME A FRANCHISEE
If you are thinking about buying a franchise now, then there are some hard
questions that you should be asking yourself. The more honest that you are with
yourself, the less likely that your new franchise will be a big problem later
on in your life. This article Entrepreneurs
— Are You Personally Ready to Start a New Venture? will help you to answer:
- Are you really enough of an entrepreneur to run a new business, even if
a franchisor has done much of the work for you already?
- What are your passions in life? How can you ensure they remain in the nature
of the work in your new franchise?
- What is your stress level now? It will likely increase as you start your
- What are your personal strengths and weaknesses that will affect the success
of your new business? How can you use your strengths to deal with your weaknesses?
- Are your personal finances in shape? What attention do they need now to
prepare for getting even more funding to operate your new franchise.
Should I Buy a Franchise?
Buying a Franchise a Good Idea?
Questions to Ask Before Buying a Franchise
The 2 Most Important
Steps in Deciding If Franchising Is a Good Fit for You
Will There Be Potholes
on the Road to Franchise Freedom? Yes. There Will Be 7, to Be Exact.
Since you are interested in starting a new business as a franchise, don’t forget
about the option to start a business from scratch. Here are some pros and cons
regarding that decision.
Pros of Starting Your Own Business From Ground Up
- You will likely have lower startup costs than in starting a new franchise,
unless your business idea would involve extensive and ongoing manufacturing
- You can follow your own creative instincts and make your own decisions,
rather than closely conforming to those of the franchisor.
Cons of Starting Your Own Business From Ground Up
- The startup activities and the time required are significant. (See the tasks
in the Reference
Manual for How to Start a Business.)
- The time it takes to start and operate your own new business until you are
getting profits can be substantially longer than in buying a franchise.
- Financing might be more difficult to get as compared to financing a franchise
that has an already well known brand.
- It is usually riskier to start your own business model if there is currently
no proof of strong markets and sales, as there would be with a franchise
SELECTING THE RIGHT FRANCHISE
The article Your
Guide to Pros and Cons of Owning a Franchise describes the following typical
process to start a franchise:
- Research to find a franchise that best suits your interests, funding, location,
- Contacting the franchisor and submitting an application
- Financial and legal review of the franchisor’s FDD and Franchise Agreement
- Creating a business plan that details how you expect to make a profit, as
well as using the plan to get sufficient funding
- Signing the Franchise Agreement and paying the initial fee
- Franchise training to meet the franchisor’s requirements
- Preparing for a grand opening to formally start your operations and invite
to Franchise a Startup: 4 Tips for Success
How to Open
a Franchise in 7 Easy Steps
How to Start a Franchise
in 8 Strategic Steps
To Franchise Your Small Business? 8 Tips To Get Started
How to Start
a Franchise in 10 Steps
A franchise broker is a person who works with you to help you select and buy
the best franchise, much like a real estate agent helps you to buy a home. Similarly,
the brokers usually work for the franchisors, as real estate agents usually
work for the home sellers.
Thus, the franchise broker’s true allegiance is to the franchisors. So if you
use a franchise broker, you need to be sure who is paying the broker and how
you can ensure that the broker is helping you at least as much as the franchisor.
There is no shortage of sources of franchise opportunities. Most important
for now, though, is to get clear on what you really want in a franchise. For
- What is your primary reason for doing a franchise? Money? Learning? The
Challenge? Use current skills?
- What industry do you want it to be in?
- Will it be seasonal, eight hours a day or 24/7?
- When do you want to start the franchise?
- What kind of risks can you tolerate?
- How much money do you have to invest?
- What kind of lifestyle do you want?
to Choose the Right Franchise for You
to Help You Select the Right Type of Franchise
to Determine Which Franchise Business is Best for You
Things to Look For in a Franchise Opportunity
To Find A Franchise Startup With Potential
Now it might be useful to consider Sources
of Franchises listed in General Resources near the end of this document.
Understand Types of Franchise Illegalities
Franchising is a very popular way to start a business. Consequently, there
are a wide variety of ways that a person might be cheated when considering to
buy a franchise or is already operating one. For example, some ways are:
- Franchisors putting undue pressure on potential franchisees to quickly sign
agreements well before the franchisee has had reasonable time to review them
- Franchisors improperly making or withholding critical financial, operating
and performance information
- Franchisors inappropriately using confidentiality agreements or gag orders
to withhold critical information to franchisees
- Franchisors promising certain levels or amounts of profit to be made by
the new franchise
- Franchisors who renege on their promises, thereby hurting the already operating
- Franchise brokers misrepresenting information about their roles and make
improper recommendations about which franchises to buy
Fraud: Wake Up and Smell the Fine Print
Yourself From Franchise Fraud
How You Can Avoid
Being a Victim of Franchise Fraud
How Franchisors are Managing Franchisee Fraud
Checklist to Do Your Due Diligence
Due diligence includes the activities to identify any potential problems in
a certain franchise well before it’s too late to easily fix them. Questions
to get answered should include the following:
Could You Manage the Business Yourself?
Does the nature of the franchise’s activities match your skills and expertise?
Or would you need a business partner to help you? (A business partner would
likely want part ownership.)
Investigate if There’s Been Complaints
Contact the Better Business Bureau. Their services are free. Ask for any information
they can give you. Make sure it matches the franchisor’s Franchise Disclosure
Document (mentioned later on below).
Talk to Other Franchisees
For example, ask them: What do other franchisees say about the skills that
are needed to run the franchise? What are your actual costs compared to those
asserted by the franchisor? What is the quality of the support that you have
gotten from the franchisor? How strong is the franchise’s brand recognition?
What do you wish the franchisor would do even better?
Do Your Market Research
research to answer these questions: What is the best location for your franchise?
Is there strong likelihood of people wanting the franchise’s products and services
in your preferred location? What are the likely competitors? How could you compete
Thoroughly Examine the Franchisor’s FDD
Do a deep
drive into franchise’s Franchise
Disclosure Document (FDD) The franchisor must provide you a copy. The FDD
includes a great deal of useful information, for example about various startup
and ongoing costs for the franchisee, responsibilities of both parties, and
typical income and expenses of a new franchise business.
Thoroughly Examine the Franchisor’s Franchise Agreement
Ask for a copy of the Franchise
Agreement, which is the contract that you would sign to formalize your franchise
relationship. Have a lawyer closely examine the Agreement. (The next section
includes more advice about the Agreement.)
Pose Your Questions to the Franchisor
the franchisor and ask the hard questions that you’ve identified so far.
Record all of the conversations that you had with the franchisor. The following
articles suggest more questions that you should get answered and how to get
Do not sign the Franchise Agreement until you have had it closely reviewed
by an attorney who has experience with franchise agreements. Also, be sure to
include all of the promises that the franchisor made to you during your discussions.
10 Things About Franchise
Contracts- Part 1
The Franchise Agreement
(What to Expect Before Signing)
and Signing a Franchise Agreement: Things to be Clear on Before Making It Official
to Consider Before Signing a Franchise Agreement
FUNDING YOUR FRANCHISE
The benefits of a business plan are many. However, the most important benefits
now are that the plan will ensure that you have carefully planned your franchise
and that you have a strong case to get funding. Most lenders will want to see
a business plan, even for buying a franchise.
The Library’s topic All
About Business planning will guide you step-by-step through the process
of developing a business plan that is highly customized to your situation. The
topic will suggest that you use especially the growth type of business plan,
rather than a startup business plan, because the business model of your franchise
has already been proven.
Do a Business Budget
When computing how much money you will need, you should draft a business budget
at least for the first year of operations. (That budget might have already been
included in your business plan. The franchisor also might help with developing
the budget.) Overall, the one-year budget should include:
- An estimate of the total of one-time and recurring costs (these are mentioned
in the following paragraphs)
- Minus whatever money that you can directly contribute, such as from personal
savings, family and friends
- The remaining total is what you need to raise from your business funding
Your Franchise Budget
Fees to the Franchisor
The types of costs that a franchisee can incur include the following. (The
franchisor’s FDD document should specify the costs and how they are determined.)
They can include:
- One-time franchise or license non-refundable fee often between $50,000 to
- Ongoing royalty payments, usually monthly and based on a percentage of monthly
- Ongoing advertising fees, usually a percentage of monthly revenues (the
franchisor puts the money from the fees into a pool to do national, regional
and local advertising)
is a Franchise Fee?
Other Typical Startup Costs
- One-time facilities startup costs, including property and buildings to match
the franchisor’s requirement
- License fees (usually annual) required in your state and municipality
- One-time professional fees, including for an attorney and accountant, ideally
with experience in franchising
- One-time cost of your own marketing and development to promote a grand-opening
to formally announce the start of operations and invite customers
- Ongoing costs of materials and supplies to develop and provide products
- Ongoing labor costs to recruit and train personnel
It can often be easier to get funding to buy a franchise than it is to start
a new business from the ground up, because lenders can recognize the credibility
of the franchise and realize that it has already been operating as a viable
business. Therefore, the lenders believe there is more likelihood that they
will be paid back, than if the business is a new one. Options for the franchisee
to get money can include:
investors — These are wealthy individuals or groups who invest in startups
to make a profit and/or to assist a business that is closely affiliated with
their interests or causes.
- Bootstrapping —
This means using your own personal sources of funds (savings, retirement funds,
home equity line of credit, etc.). The more of your own money that you put
in, the more inclined investors are to help you. Also, the less that you will
have to borrow and pay back.
partners — They can bring knowledge of the industry, but will likely
require partial ownership in the business.
bank loans — This depends on the quality of your business plan, credit
history and available collateral.
unions — These are usually at a lower interest rate than commercial banks.
You need to be a member of the credit union.
– This source includes a marketing campaign via social media that aims to
raise small amounts of donated money from numerous individuals and organizations.
and family — This can be a quick source of small amounts of funds, but
be sure to still do a formal agreement.
- Franchisor financing
— This might include waiving the franchise fee, offering low-cost loans or
partnering with other lenders to help you, as well as offering discounts on
– These are small, short-term loans with a low-interest rate intended for
- Small Business
Administration (SBA) loans — This is useful especially if the franchise
is already SBA-approved. It can be easier to get than a commercial loan, but
the time to qualify and process a loan is typically longer than for a bank.
The 6 Best Financing
Options for Franchising a Business
to Get Financing to Buy a Franchise
to Find Franchise Financing
to Buy a Franchise on a Limited Budget
Start a Franchise with No Money
Learn More in the Library’s Blogs Related to Starting a Business
In addition to the articles on this current page, also see the following blogs
that have posts related to Starting a Business. Scan down the blog’s page to
see various posts. Also see the section “Recent Blog Posts” in the
sidebar of the blog or click on “next” near the bottom of a post in
the blog. The blog also links to numerous free related resources.
Business Planning Blog
Building a Business Blog
Consulting and Organizational Development Blog
Strategic Planning Blog
For the Category of Entrepreneurship (For-Profit):
To round out your knowledge of this Library topic, you may
want to review some related topics, available from the link below.
Each of the related topics includes free, online resources.
Also, scan the Recommended Books listed below. They have been
selected for their relevance and highly practical nature.