The decision to become a franchise owner is more than just about numbers; it’s about finding long-term business allies
For anyone reading this magazine and considering buying a franchise, congratulations—you’ve taken the first step of a long journey.
Now comes the hard part: deciding which business to choose. Many elements factor into that decision, including your budget, location, professional experience and interests. I found a franchise family through purchasing a business services franchise. And, I believe many of you may also be a good fit to run a business services model, especially if you’ve grown comfortable in the B2B setting professionally.
I’d like to first offer advice to those searching and also speak to those already in the trenches with a services franchise business. Doing your due diligence and finding the right franchise is only half the battle; the other half starts once you sign that franchise contract and venture out as a new business owner.
Here are some words of wisdom to both present and future franchisees in this sector:
Don’t say yes until you’ve said no to enough others
I started my search for the perfect franchise the same way as you: I combed through franchise magazines, searched online for the right option and narrowed it down to a few. And then, I found my match in Image One USA, a commercial cleaning franchise headquartered not far from where my wife and I live in the Chicago suburbs. They were looking to expand and I was looking to take control of my future and be my own boss.
The deeper I researched and the more I spoke with Image One, I realized this was much more than just a janitorial services business. The franchise supplied a thorough operations manual, offered extensive training, gave franchisees customer support and guidance every step of the way. And so, I took the plunge.
There were plenty of other franchise models (in industries other than business services) that I said no to, whether during my preliminary research or, later, in a face-to-face meeting.
It’s kind of like dating and finding the right spouse: you’ll know when you know.
Market your business until you feel like you can’t anymore—and then spend more time marketing
It’s hard to underestimate the importance of marketing your local franchise when you’re in the business services sector. Not only are you competing against other businesses, you’re also fighting the busy schedules of the decision makers at the companies with which you’d like to do business.
While it’s not necessary to the success of my franchise, I come from a sales and marketing background, which really helped me get started. Many of my first initial conversations with Image One were about marketing. What’s been great is that they’ve always been willing to listen to my ideas and feedback. Most franchisors are going to provide you with templated materials to help you market your products or services, but the best ones are going to have the time to conduct constructive conversations about what’s working and what isn’t.
Treat your clients like royalty… and expect the same from your franchisor
So much of a business services model is about landing clients. But, landing is just the first step. What’s most important is to keep those clients long-term, and add to that core base of clients. To do that, you need to treat them like royalty—remember that they are the reason your business makes money, the reason you can pay your bills and support your family.
As a franchisee, you should feel the same way you want your clients to feel about you as a services provider. Franchisors are in the business of creating opportunities for franchise owners to thrive; that’s what keeps them expanding and growing.
What works best in my experience is to keep an open line of communication between you and your franchisor. If there are ever problems—and there will be, that’s the nature of business after all—bring it up to your franchisor right away. If you’re with a good one, they will resolve it quickly and effectively.
Make sure you have a plan beyond those first few months
One of the things that most impressed me with my franchisor was that they had a plan in place for supporting me not just during my first quarter in business, but for my first year—and even my first few years.
It helped me developed my short-term and long-term business plan. And, as a franchisee, you really do need to ensure that you have a direction that is in line with your franchisor but is uniquely yours.
I’m proud to say that my revenues have increased dramatically over the last few years. While it took time and some growing pains to get there, I’m on pace to be in a great spot as a business owner, employing others, serving a growing number of clients and operating a well-oiled business.
The franchisor-franchisee relationship is not always going to be a bed of roses, but when you find the right match, it can be a rewarding reciprocal arrangement that just makes strong financial sense.
Bob Caramusa is a franchise owner with Image One USA, serving businesses and organizations in Chicago’s Northwest suburbs. He is the proud recipient of Image One’s 2015 Franchisee of the Year Award, a franchise with nearly 100 locations across Chicagoland and in Cincinnati, Denver, Detroit, Fort Myers, Nashville and Orlando.