Is Franchising Right for Me?


Most people can’t come up with a good business idea, let alone know how to build a prototype and successfully open the doors to paying customers.

Most people are going to trip up over where to locate the business, or how to negotiate with suppliers, or how to market and advertise the business, or how to charge for products or services, or how to keep customers coming back time after time, or all of that and more.

In other words, most people who start a business are going to fail, and they do. Every year would-be business owners lose billions of dollars in America alone, all because they didn’t know what successful franchisors know.

The Secret is in the System

You’ll notice that I said “successful franchisors” because not everyone who becomes a franchisor succeeds. But successful franchisors, those who invest the time and the money–especially the money–to build profitable and satisfying businesses also develop a series of systems that they can transfer and teach to other people: franchisees.

Everything that successful franchisors know becomes part of a system. And it’s the system that franchisees rely on to replicate the franchisor’s success. How does McDonald’s eliminate the guesswork about where to open a new unit? That knowledge is part of McDonald’s site selection system.

How does a McDonald’s franchisee know how many hamburger rolls to purchase on any given day, and how many people will be needed to operate the business during an eight-hour shift? The answers are part of McDonald’s operating system. In fact, you can’t ask a question that McDonald’s, the franchisor, can’t answer about how to operate a successful McDonald’s restaurant.

And now, just imagine, McDonald’s is willing to share all of its knowledge with you, or any qualified prospect, to become a franchisee anywhere in the world. Tell me that’s not amazing!

You Can Minimize the Risk

What’s more amazing, and this is what I thought about the first time a franchisor explained franchising to me, is that I do not have to come up with a good business idea, go into debt to develop the idea in the hopes that it would become a profitable and satisfying business, and then fail. I don’t have to take that risk because there are at least 3,000 different franchise opportunities in North America alone.

It’s easier to find a business concept that I like, and then pay the franchisor to teach me how to operate the business successfully in a new location. Or, I can buy an existing franchise business and bypass the more treacherous start-up years.

I didn’t come from a business-minded family, so I knew very little about how to develop and operate a business. And yet, I wanted to own a business because I knew that working for someone else wasn’t going to fulfill my expectations. I was never going to make enough money working for someone else, and I’m not a 9-to-5 type of employee.

But until I learned about franchising, I didn’t think I could ever own a business. I’ve since owned several franchises, I’ve been the CEO of a major franchisor organization, and I’ve devoted a career to advising franchisors and franchisees, writing about franchising, and teaching people how to take advantage of this amazing concept.

Franchising is an Equalizer

Through the years I’ve become acquainted with countless people internationally who told me they didn’t think they had a chance to own a business because of their circumstances. Some of these people had great ideas for new businesses, but most of them did not have the money to start a business, and many of them did not have a formal education–in fact, several never graduated from high school. No one claimed to know how to build a business.

But once these people discovered franchising most of their doubts and limitations disappeared over time, and they built profitable and satisfying businesses, and in some cases, financial empires.

It’s important to know, as successful franchisors and franchisees will tell you, that while franchising levels the playing field so that most everyone can succeed in business, it doesn’t suddenly make everything all right. It makes everything possible, at least in terms of developing a successful business, but it doesn’t remove all the risks or limitations, and it surely doesn’t do the work for you.

Many people are fond of saying that franchising is “turnkey,” and unfortunately that leads some people to believe that all they have to do is get the key, turn it, and voila!, success. But it’s not that amazing!

Franchising isn’t a miraculous solution. I don’t know any lazy or uninformed people who have succeeded in franchising. Conversely, of the successful franchisors and franchisees I know, none is a genius. Most are simply hard working, curious, ambitious people. Some earned college degrees; others did not.

Some had family money; most did not. Many struggled before they succeeded, and some failed and started again, but none gave up. Other than franchising as a common bond, successful franchisors and franchisees also share the ability to be led. Obviously franchisees need to learn how to be successful in business–that’s the purpose of the franchisor’s system–but franchisors are not infinitely wise; the best of them recognize that they need to be taught and guided, too, and they invest time and money in their continuing educations.

Anyone who isn’t willing to be led to greater accomplishments isn’t cut out for franchising, as amazing as it may be.

Now that you’ve heard all this, you only have to ask one question: “Is franchising for you?”

Dr. John P. Hayes is a regular keynote speaker on the “As to Zs of Franchising” for the International Franchise Expo, author of Start Small, Finish Big with Fred DeLuca, and a franchise industry expert to media outlets across the country.

[This article is an excerpt from 12 Amazing Franchise Opportunities for 2015, a new book by Dr. John P. Hayes to be published by BizComPress in November.]

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