Making the decision to begin franchising your business is one that takes time, thoughtful consideration and a variety of resources to ensure that your concept is set up for success.
As an entrepreneur who has started a few businesses and long-time owner of Neighborhood News, my experience in journalism has been useful in many endeavors. My interest in writing and
advertising along with my desire to serve a greater need in my hometown of San Antonio is what ultimately led to the creation of our new franchise company, Neighbors Choice.
Turning your personal business into a franchise can certainly seem daunting, and there’s a lot to consider before taking the leap — who do I target, what do I charge,
who can I turn to for help?
Here are six key points I’ve learned along the way that can help put your franchising plans in place:
1 Focus on Community Needs
Integrating yourself into your community and searching for ways to enrich the lives of those around you is an absolute must. If you’re able to take your passion and leverage it in a way that can assist others in the process, your franchising experience will undoubtedly be fulfilling to both yourself and those that use your services. In my early days as a journalist, I did freelance writing for various publications in San Antonio, and this role allowed me to wear many hats and acquire a keen understanding of communication concerns that needed to be addressed within my own community. I attended city council meetings, interviewed local celebrities and politicians, created gardening guides and worked in graphic design for other special sections as well. I also served as chair of the Neighborhood Resource Center for many years, which is where I really learned the struggles that many neighborhoods face. I saw a bridge that needed to be gapped between small businesses and residents and jumped on the opportunity quickly.
When you find what makes your business purposeful to the greater community, others will also see that same value.
2 Leverage Existing Business
Utilizing resources, materials and contacts that you already have in the pipeline will be extremely beneficial in a variety of facets as you begin your franchise journey. Be careful to not rely so heavily on achieving goals externally that you forget to start at the drawing board with assets that have already proven to be successful within your business at the internal level.
There are also many other resources that most businesses share that can be leveraged, such as relationships with vendors, customers, business neighbors, your network and the contacts of those that support you. Additionally, there are multiple community organizations such as the Chamber of Commerce, Rotary Club and other community organizations to leverage. Word of mouth can go a very long way with the development of your business as well as your franchise.
3 Designate Your Target Audience
Considering the demographics and geography of potential franchisees is a crucial component of the franchise sales process. It is in your hands to ensure that these individuals believe in your business wholeheartedly, can be strong leaders and will represent your brand in a way that aligns with your values as a franchisor.
At Neighbors Choice, we are actively seeking salespeople that have a desire to give rise to small businesses through advertising, help connect residents on a personal level and become a community advocate themselves along the way.
4 Consider the Uniqueness of Your Business
Don’t spend your time worrying about what everyone else is doing — instead, chart a path and follow it. It can be good to look around at the competition from time to time, but don’t let it consume you. Put pen to paper and consider why someone would choose you over another franchise concept. You may turn inward and see that your culture and value proposition are your best selling points, and then develop strategic messaging around those differentiators.
After being in business for 25 years, we have our systems and processes down to a science. With 100+ neighborhoods in Texas eager to receive their monthly newsletters, we are happy to provide residents with a product that is fully customized to the happenings of their specific neighborhood.
5 Seek Out Expert Support
Franchising is a huge undertaking for any business owner, and it can feel quite overwhelming, especially in the beginning stages. For me, I needed to seek out people that I could flesh out ideas with and talk to about seemingly insignificant things only of value to me. With time, you will find people you can trust to be your sounding boards. It’s important to look at all the different areas you will have to address. This includes everything from marketing, IT solutions, potential HR issues and not forgetting about your “me” time. Try to have some sort of strategic plan in place for them all. Not everything needs to be resolved all at once, but make sure you have the contacts and resources to move forward. Momentum is important, and you will want to be sure you can sustain it for a
predetermined period of time.
6 Ensure You Are Able to Provide Effective Education and Training to Franchisees
Franchisors must have employees, staff and engaged experts to provide the training, support and management resources necessary for franchisees. This all needs to be in place before you even sign for your first deal. After all, people join a franchise concept because of the proven systems and processes. It’s imperative to communicate your “playbook” effectively in the beginning and set them up for success. Experienced and talented graphic designers, strong administration and our fully versed sales staff are here to offer guidance. Additionally, since many of our staff has been with us for a long time and have also volunteered in the community, we have a special insight that we are utilizing for our mentorship program.
Susan Schopp, a San Antonio native, started Neighborhood News Inc. in 1996 as a home-based business selling ads and publishing neighborhood newsletters for homeowners’ associations. As more neighborhoods and municipalities became clients, she leased office space, hired employees and created in-house mailing and printing departments.
The company is currently franchising under Neighbors Choice®, providing community newsletters and websites to nearly 100 neighborhoods in cities throughout Texas.