Everyone has their own ideas about what buying a franchise will be like, but like any big undertaking in life, you have no real idea until you are actually doing it.
It’s like having kids, you don’t REALLY know what it’s like to have a little person (in our case, two little people!) dependent on you 24/7 until you get home from the hospital and you get that “oh crap, what now” feeling…
Buying a business can feel like that and some franchisees tell us that had they known how hard it would be they might not do it again.
During our 15+ years as franchisees and franchisee trainers, we have seen the impact of these expectations not aligning to reality. Sometimes with disastrous results…
To help bridge this divide in expectations we asked a group of newer franchisees:
What do they wish they’d known before they became a franchisee?
What do they want others to know before they decide to buy in?
So here are the top 5 things that they wish they known before they bought a franchise:
1. You cannot really prepare for how FULL ON owning a franchise is
You can try to get ready, but without a frame of reference, how can you be ready?
Owning a business NEVER STOPS.
One franchisee said, “In corporate, you can always kick things higher up the chain. Being a franchisee, you’re it.”
Another said, “My business trades 363 days a year. I am always ‘on’. This can really impact your personal life.”
You get the phone calls from staff,
You have to drive sales & increase profits,
You have to adhere to head office requirements,
You have to deal with unhappy customers,
You have to get equipment up and running,
and on it goes…
Some people who buy into a franchise believe that they will have tons of support from their head office. But, this can differ from franchise to franchise.
At the end of the day, the franchisor is in the business of selling franchises . They are not there to run the day-to-day of YOUR business. That is YOUR job.
2. To be truly successful, you need your family to commit to the business too
That is a very true, honest statement. A franchise can demand so much time from you, especially in the beginning.
There is so much to get a handle on:
- Systems to set up,
- Staff to hire and train,
- End of month procedures to master
- Not to mention actually doing the job or providing the service!
It can really monopolize your time.
It’s all this ‘stuff’ that gets done AFTER the trading day is over and that is where the family commitment comes in.
They will see less of you. You will have work when your family members are off work, or not at school. You will also be thinking about the business and then never ending ’to do’ list even while you’re at home.
Yet, if you have decided as a family that you are ‘all in’, then they will have an expectation that this will happen in the beginning.
Problems start when your family doesn’t agree to buying the business and they object to the time commitment required.
3. Franchises are not 100% turnkey and that can be a shock
That’s what franchises are, right? Set up businesses with a system to follow?
“Yes”, say existing franchisees, “but only to a point. The rest is on you to figure out.”
As one franchisee says, “Head Office doesn’t know what it is like to actually RUN the business.”
They don’t know what it’s like to get the call that staff are sick and you have paperwork to do but you now also have to cover a shift. All they see is that they don’t have their report submitted on time.
Depending on the franchisor’s focus, and the length of time that it has existed, the number of proven procedures can differ greatly.
Some well developed systems will have created:
- staff hiring and training procedures,
- ordering systems,
- loyalty programs
Whilst others only worry about brand development and selling more sites.
You need to find out what your franchisor focusses on.
For some franchisees, they expected it ALL to be systemized. It can be a rude awakening to find out it’s not!
4. Your conventional structure is gone and that can be weird in the beginning
For many franchisees, they were employees before they bought a franchise, that worked Monday to Friday and had weekends off.
As one franchisee put it, “Your conventional structure is gone when your busiest time in your business is the weekends. So, you have to make your own weekends. Sometimes your friends or your family might not get that.”
This can be especially hard if you have kids. Their school time is Monday to Friday. There can be a strain on the family, not being able to make sporting games or take them to birthday parties because you have to work.
If they aren’t on board, they don’t understand WHY you chose to become a franchisee; the fact that you are building something to better their lives.
They just see you missing important events in their lives and they think it sucks. AND they tell you so! One franchisee we spoke to said their daughter resented their business for many years as it took her parents away from her.
After a while, your new structure becomes the norm and everyone settles into the routine, but there can be resistance in the beginning.
5. Your ability to have more say over your time can be dictated by staff
Existing franchisees all agreed that having a greater say over their time was one of the main reasons they bought a franchise in the first place. They also agreed that to be able to have the flexibility of time: to do school pick up, or to golf on Wednesdays, you are dependent on staff.
When you have a great team in place and your business is cruising along in its ‘sweet spot’, you can work the hours that suit you. It’s when you lose staff, or people are sick, or you hit a growth spurt and you need to hire & train more staff, then you can lose that flexibility.
The backup, go to person, is YOU! That’s when the 6 and 7-day weeks can occur and they can keep occurring until you get your staff situation rectified.
Sometimes in the middle of trying to get things back on track, you can really wonder if you made the right decision about buying a franchise and being your own boss!
That said, all the existing franchisees I interviewed said that they wouldn’t go back to corporate life again.
One franchisee sums it up really well: “It can be hard, being a franchisee. IT NEVER STOPS. But when you think about all the time and effort you invested into your job, and the fact that you are now investing that into something for yourself, and a better future, then it is definitely worth it.”
I totally agree.
Buying a franchise is a great move if you know what to expect and how it will affect your life and that of your family.
Make sure you have realistic expectations.
Plan for the best scenario, have contingencies for any foreseeable problems, and you will minimize the risks.
Know that all the extra effort you are putting in will reap long term benefits for your family.
‘Til next time,
P.S.If you would like to chat about a potential new venture, work/life issues or systemizing your business for greater profits and less stress let’s set up a time!