By: Kevin King, Smoothie King Chief Development Officer
With thousands of franchise brands for prospects to choose from, the process of choosing a brand that fits your goals and personality can be daunting. This is especially true for first-time franchisees. While every franchise system may have something great to offer, the burden is on you to conduct due diligence to determine which investment will work best for you.
But where do you begin? When looking for a franchise opportunity, how can you be sure that the concept you’re looking at is a winner? In the 30 years I’ve spent developing franchises, I’ve spoken to countless prospects of varying experience and interest levels. Before buying into any franchise brand, I always suggest they ask themselves these four questions:
1. Is this a brand I believe in?
In entrepreneurship, everything boils down to passion. Are you passionate about the brand? Do you believe it what it stands for? Do you have confidence in its products and services? If you want to have any chance of succeeding, these fundamental questions must be answered affirmatively.
In the same way Smoothie King routinely asks guests what their “purpose” is when referring to the need they are fulfilling with one of our smoothies, I encourage franchisee prospects to pose this question to themselves. What are they looking to get out of owning a Smoothie King? The majority of the time, their answer involves improving the nutrition and wellness of their community and sharing a product they truly enjoy. In fact, the passion and enthusiasm for the product that I see from franchisees is unparalleled. When you have so many people fully invested in the brand’s mission and ideals, it spreads down to the franchisee’s employees and guests and constantly fuels momentum.
2. Is this a brand I can sell?
As important as passion is to the success of your brand, viability is probably just as important. When deciding between different franchise concepts, you have to be completely honest with yourself. Can you honestly see this brand working in your area? Is there enough demand for a product like this? Are there already enough concepts in my area that fill this need? The answers to these questions can tell you a lot about whether or not you’re on the right track.
Actually liking what you’re selling is vital. Whether they’re in their stores or not, franchisees are 100-percent committed to devoting a significant amount of their time and resources in order to sell their product. So, if you can’t truly see yourself selling this product day in and day out, then it might be in your best interests to consider other avenues.
3. Does this brand ultimately meet my goals?
Because nobody goes into business to lose money, due diligence is imperative. Take the time to research the brand you’re looking into and dig deep into its track record. Examine past success indicators if available, find out how many stores are currently operating and see if they’re continuing to grow.
The franchise opportunity website is a first stop, but go well beyond the site as part of your research. Look at the brand’s FDD. Talk to other franchisees in the system. No one can tell you how much money you’re going to make, but they can give you a sense of what you can expect. Compare what you find to your initial goals to see if they match up.
4. Do I believe in the people guiding this brand?
Remember that a brand is only as strong as its leadership. As you begin delving deeper into a brand, you’ll start to learn more and more about the people who run it. See what kind of experience they have and what they have done to ensure that the concept continues to succeed. Do you share similar values and vision?
Consider all the areas that you are not an expert in and see what kind of help they can offer you as you build your business. A brand with strong leadership will provide the right amount of franchisee support, including brand-specific training, marketing, real estate assistance and operations. You want a leadership team that believes in their people and will do everything in their power to set them up for success.
Make the Decision
If you answered all these questions with an emphatic “yes,” then the investment is probably right for you. Take the risk associated with opening any business into consideration and confidently take the plunge into working toward your entrepreneurial goals.