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When managed properly, a franchise can be the best of both worlds, allowing you to run a business while remaining connected to a recognizable brand and a tried-and-true business model. It's critical to make sure that you come in with the right mindset to take advantage of that winning combination so your business endeavors can be a real success story.
By choosing your franchise wisely, evaluating your own strengths and weaknesses, adhering to your franchiser's rules, and using aggressive marketing strategies, you can run a highly profitable franchise that makes you, your customers and your franchisor incredibly happy.
You're going to invest a significant amount of money, time and energy into your franchise, so pick one about which you care. Analysts may tell you that, say, home healthcare is the hottest thing around, but if you want your business contained under one roof or don't consider yourself a people person, you'll hate your job. (Of course, if you have always wanted to get involved in medicine but never made it to medical school, something like Qualicare might be perfect for you.) Choose something you love.
Be aware, too, that making a good choice extends beyond the product itself. Remember, the advantage of franchising is getting involved with a recognizable brand and a proven business model. If you pick a new franchise, you're attaching yourself to a less familiar brand and a business model that hasn't been field-tested. Worse, if you choose a franchise that's teetering on the edge of bankruptcy, you're attaching yourself to a business model that actually doesn't work. Franchises like KFC or UPS might not feel new and exciting, but they work.
Speaking of the tried-and-true business model, your franchiser is going to have specific rules for you. Follow them. Some of these rules involve relatively trivial things, such as how you can decorate the workspace; others involve the very structure of how you run the business. At best, breaking these rules will lead to a disruption in brand identity. If people go into your Subway and don't see the usual color scheme inside, it won't feel like a Subway to them, and they may not come back. At worst, you'll end up making destructive, costly mistakes that the rules were specifically designed to avoid. The franchisors have tested and refined these rules for years or even decades to come up with a formula that works. Reinventing the wheel will cost you.
Evaluate your own strengths and weaknesses carefully as you start your franchise. No matter how skilled you are as a business person, you need people to shore up the areas that give you trouble or simply don't interest you. You may need to hire financial planners or skilled sales professionals if you dislike the accounting end of business or have trouble with self-promotion. In addition, you will need a strong manager who complements your own leadership style. If you tend toward a gentle form of leadership, you will need a more hard-nosed and pragmatic manager to balance you out; if you ride employees hard, your manager may need to be more of a nurturer to maintain morale.
Your franchise is going to start out as one more face in the crowd. Get around this through savvy marketing. Offer coupons, free samples and sales. Send your mascot to community events. Post flyers and brochures. If a potential customer has to choose between your Glam-n-Glow and another that's equally far away, she'll choose the one with the best deal… as long as she knows it's there. Make sure your community is aware of you and knows you have the best prices in town.
Franchising can pay huge dividends to the smart investor. Be that investor and your business will shine.