Potential franchise owners want to have as much information about a concept as possible prior to making a decision regarding licensing the brand.  As stated in my previous blog, franchisees are a great source of “front line” information regarding the franchise business that you are exploring.  Franchise concepts with a well defined recruiting process require you talk with some of their existing franchisees as you are nearing the end of the discovery process.  Franchise concepts with a less defined recruiting process may suggest you speak with their existing franchisees earlier in the discovery process, and may expect their franchisees to “sell the concept” for them.

Experienced franchise recruiters are respectful and protect their franchisee’s time and privacy.  Franchisees are very busy individuals as they build their businesses while maintaining the proper balance between work, family and other community activities.  Franchise recruiters want to ensure that their franchisees only spend time interacting with qualified candidates.  Often a password is utilized to signal franchisees that you have reached an important milestone in the qualification process, and the franchisee will speak more candidly with you.

No franchisee is obligated to talk to you. If they do so, it is strictly voluntary. If you are awarded the franchise, in the future, potential franchisees will be calling you, so please consider how you would want that conversation to be conducted as you call existing franchisees.  Please remember, the more pleasant you are, the more likely that they will be to talk to you.  Please understand, as you prepare for these calls, franchisees are not required to reveal their earnings to anyone. While they will want to help, human nature is to be relatively private when discussing income and earnings – especially to someone that they have never met before.

Having your questions formulated is key to having a productive validation call.  Consider the following guidelines:

  • Validation provides an opportunity for existing franchisees to meet and evaluate you as a potential franchisee. Franchisors will seek feedback from their franchisees so please make sure these conversations reflect you at your best.
  • Please respect their time and keep the conversations to a length of approximately 15-20 minutes. In order to address the points that matter most to you, please keep your list organized and in order.
  • Ask questions that build on the knowledge that you have already learned in the discovery process.
  • You should avoid questions about the Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD) and Franchise Agreement. While these are very critical documents, most franchise owners will not remember the content as the FDD typically collects dust on a shelf after operations are launched.

As you see from the guidelines, beginning the validation process prematurely may be detrimental and unproductive for both you and the franchisee.   The vast majority of  franchisees will be willing to schedule a time to talk with you, but they are very busy managing their businesses.  Work with your franchise recruiter to ensure this process is handled properly.  Your recruiter should have some basic guidelines and information that will take you through the process and make it both informative and enjoyable.

The franchising industry is the doorway to a world of opportunity. Thousands of franchises offer countless concepts, all with varying startup costs. And while many require a storefront and overhead expenses, a large number of them – ranging from pest control to dance fitness lessons to deck and lighting companies and repair services – can be operated right from home. Home-based franchises are becoming viable options for business ownership, enabling many new franchisors to grow their businesses more effectively Franchise Finder Find the right franchise for you! Explore our directory of over 800 franchise opportunties.

The popularity of home-based businesses has been growing for a while now. Home-based entrepreneurship has become so common, in fact, that those running businesses from home have earned their own title, “homepreneurs,” and have become significant pillars in the economy. According to a recent survey conducted by Small Business Success Index and analyzed by Emergent Research, there are currently about 6.6 million home businesses nationwide that generate at least 50 percent of the owner’s household income. These businesses employ over 13 million people; 35 percent of them generate more than $125,000 in revenue, and 8 percent generate more than $500,000.

So what’s driving this trend? There are many factors, one of which is the struggling economy. “Home-based franchising is alive and well and, in this down economy, thriving,” explains Harold Kestenbaum, a franchise attorney who has worked with more than 100 franchise concepts. “More franchise companies have gone to the home-based model, when possible, since the tightness of the credit market has made selling the big-box franchises very difficult. The home-based model opens up the opportunities for prospects with lower budgets, which is a good thing.”

Additionally, as technology becomes more sophisticated, it’s easier than ever to operate a business from home and still portray a professional image. “As technology continues to offer more and more communications abilities, such as Web conferencing and seamless communication systems, home-based franchising will continue to be a viable option for many companies looking for qualified buyers and for buyers who wish to have the flexibility of working at a home base,” says Alisa Harrison, Vice President of Communications and Marketing at the International Franchise Association.

Finally, the once somewhat negative stigma associated with working from home is dissipating as the entire image of the traditional workplace is undergoing a metamorphosis. According to data released in January from the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of people who worked at home increased from about 9.5 million in 1999 to about 11.3 million in 2005. Furthermore, nearly half of these home-based workers had college degrees, and nearly half of them earned $75,000 a year or more. As the whole concept of working from home becomes more common, so does the idea of running a franchise from home.

The flexibility and freedom of running a business from home helps franchisees realize their dream of starting a business, but it also enables franchisors to introduce new concepts and grow their businesses. With home-based franchising becoming more widespread, those searching for a franchise may not have to roam too far from home to find – and start – a business of their own. (Sara Wilson)

When Scott Anderson was looking for a way to grow his business, and leverage his existing customer base, he opted to pursue a franchise opportunity.  On January 11, 2010, Scott inquired about an Outdoor Living Brands franchise opportunity.  Scott and his father, Keith, had worked hard to build a successful business in the Augusta, Georgia area.  

Scott and Keith began the process of investigating a franchise opportunity in mid January, 2010.  Keith attended a Confirmation Day in early February, the Franchise Agreement was executed on February 18th and the business was launched in March, 2010. 

Below is Scott’s story in his own words.

“My name is Scott Anderson, I purchased the Mosquito Squad franchise in Augusta, Georgia in February.  My father and I currently own a Landscape Design/Build and Management firm.  We felt like Mosquito Squad would be a great complimentary business for a few different reasons.   

1.  It is a great way to sale additional services.   

2.  It offers a great service to our customers.  Our customers spend large money on projects in their yard so they can enjoy the yard.  Pests such as Mosquitoes can make for undesirable evenings in a back yard.  We felt like Mosquito Squad was a nice solution to our customer’s problems. 

Though we have not started spraying as of yet, I recently finished my training and I am working on my marketing strategy and I am very optimistic.  Mosquito Squad has given me the tools to start this new business.  I feel that it will be a great success.” 

When business owners have worked diligently to grow their customer base, build a referral network, and have provided excellent customer service and begin looking for a way to leverage their experience, franchising can be the best way to achieve their growth objectives.  Utilizing a proven system allows you the opportunity to add a service with a team of professionals assisting with getting up the learning curve while you focus on your business.

If you feel the time is right to nourish your entrepreneurial spirit, consider looking at a franchise instead of trying to go it alone.  There are many reasons you may want to consider franchising as an alternative to starting your own business.  Books and articles are being written each day emphasizing why franchising is a good idea.

As a Franchise Recruiter at Outdoor Living Brands, I find many of the same driving factors that have future business owners looking to become involved in a franchised business. 

  • Training – you don’t know what you don’t know.  So allowing a successful franchise organization to guide you through the process of figuring it all out is crucial.
  • Marketing – knowing who your target market is and how to reach them can make all the difference in the beginning of your business and through-out it tenure.
  • Help Getting Started – what do you need to do to start a business?  Sound like a simple enough question to answer, but again, you don’t know what you don’t know.
  • Brand Recognition – if you are starting from scratch with a name no one has seen or heard before, the touch points needed to get your brand recognized increases.
  • Lower failure rate – with a dedicated team of professionals working with you, you avoid making the same mistakes they may have made when starting out, so your ability to succeed is increased.
  • Faster Return on Investment – if you are constantly infusing capital into your business to compensate for rookie or novice mistakes, the amount of time it takes to recoup your investment grows.

Take advantage of the experience of others and investigate the opportunities franchising affords you.  There are many franchise concepts available in multiple arenas and finding the one that works for you may be easier than you think.  Check out the websites of some of the businesses that appeal to you.  Your future endeavors could be a click away.

Have you ever watched a skilled craftsman at work in their trade?  You stand there watching this person utilizing their skills and talents to make something work.  As you watch this person, you begin to think “that looks easy – I bet I could do that”.  You spend time thinking about how easy it looked to produce that end result, and before you know it, you are ready to try your hand at this task.

For many years, I worked in the finance/accounting and human resources field.  It is something that came quite easy for me.  Understanding the tasks at hand, scheduling those tasks, and making my job run as smoothly as possible was my goal and basically, my daily routine.  For ten years I worked in this role for one employer.  One day an opportunity came along to work in the same field, but with a different company.  I decided to open the door when opportunity knocked.  I notified my employer that I would be leaving the organization. 

Having watched me perform these duties for many years, my employer decided it would be easy to replace my services in that role.  I moved on and began my new career with the new employer.  A short-time later, I was approached by the former employer and asked if I could train my replacement.  Something I agreed to do without hesitation.  All of the sudden, the role I had filled for years was not viewed as “something anyone could do” anymore.

As my former employer quickly came to realize, there was a great deal to be said for someone who could not only complete the tasks they were assigned, but manage an entire process with few or no stumbles along the way.  Help was needed, sought, and given by someone with the experience to make things work.  Systems and processes are developed, implemented, refined and taught or handed down. 

This same scenario happens often with entrepreneurs.  They see a successful business owner making their business look easy – and they try to duplicate it.  If the entrepreneur is lucky enough not to fall on their face to many times, they may actually succeed.  However, there is a much easier way.  Franchising offers success to aspiring new business owners with much lower risk.  Take advantage of the years of knowledge, systems and successes offered by a franchised business before you think “that looks easy – I bet I could do that”.

Fewer than half of U.S. workers are satisfied with their jobs, the lowest level since record-keeping began 22 years ago, said a report released on January 5, 2010.  What are people waiting for?  Franchising is the vehicle for people to make the changes in their careers and in their lives!

As published on CNN.com today:

The Conference Board’s survey polled 5,000 households, and found that only 45% were satisfied in their jobs. That’s down from 61.1% in 1987, the first year the survey was conducted.

Even though one in 10 Americans is out of a job, those who are employed are increasingly dissatisfied.

“Through both economic boom and bust during the past two decades, our job satisfaction numbers have shown a consistent downward trend,” said Lynn Franco, director of the Consumer Research Center of The Conference Board, in a prepared statement.

“[That] could spell trouble for the overall engagement of U.S. employees and ultimately employee productivity,” she added.

The report notes that job satisfaction has steadily declined over the years despite big improvements in the work environment, such as a reduction of workplace hazards and an increase in vacation days.

The drop in satisfaction over the past 22 years spans various aspects of employee life, including interest in work (down 18.9 percentage points) and job security (down 17.5 percentage points).  And employee satisfaction dipped across the board; workers in every age group and income levels showed a drop, but workers younger than 25 were the most unhappy in their jobs.

Almost one-quarter of respondents said they didn’t expect to be at their current jobs within a year. 

Again, with all of this dissatisfaction, I believe 2010 will be a strong year for franchise recruiting.  The economy is starting to recover which offers the perfect backdrop to launch a new franchise business.  If you are one of those 55% that is unhappy with your current job, what are you waiting for?

I notice an interesting parallel week this week.  In addition to delivering the opening training session in our training class for 18 new Mosquito Squad franchisees, I have been preparing some remarks for a commencement address that I been asked to deliver this week to fall 2009 graduates of Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Business

In addition to my role as President & CEO of Outdoor Living Brands, I serve on the VCU Business Society Board of Directors, the alumni board for the School of Business at Virginia Commonwealth University. I was initially reluctant to accept the invitation to speak to these new graduates. I wasn’t sure what “profound wisdom” that I would be able to offer to these new graduates as they begin their careers in the midst of a recessionary economy and high unemployment.

However, I found it interesting that some of the same themes in my commencement remarks – (1) putting everything you have, all of your passion and energy, into your career; (2) being flexible, being willing to adapt to change in order to take advantage of unexpected business opportunities; and (3) having extreme optimism – were key parts of my advice to new graduates and to new franchisees. 

Then I realized that there are some tremendous similarities.  Both new franchisees and new college graduates are reaching important milestones in their lives. Both are excited, yet have a bit of fear and concern for the future, as they start the next chapter of their lives and careers. Both are proud (and rightly so) at having taken steps to take control of their lives and futures.

Congratulations – both to the December 2009 class of new Mosquito Squad franchisees and the graduates of the VCU School of Business!