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.

I recently read an article by Anita Campbell in which she spoke about the demographics regarding people who are entering the world of business ownership and franchising.  There were some eye opening facts regarding the ages of first time entrepreneurs.

Anita quoted statistics from a November 2009 Bureau of Labor Statics study that showed, “The incorporated self-employment rate is four times higher among those aged 65 to 69 than among those aged 25 to 34—and a whopping 25 times higher than among those aged 20 to 24.”

There are a number of reasons this may be taking place:

  • Investing may be easier with the utilization of built up retirement funding
  • With grown children, the ability to save and gain necessary capital for start-up may be easier
  • Lay-offs – higher paid senior executives were greatly impacted during the economic down-turn – rather than going back into Corporate America, invest in yourself and your skills
  • Nearing retirement age, but still having the desire to contribute
  • Empty-nest syndrome – many mothers have more time on their hands and the ability to take charge of their time – with the battle to gain employment being an uphill one for many stay-at-home moms, starting a busy may be much more plausible

If any of the above scenarios sound familiar, I suggest you read the entire article, and perhaps consider franchising as an option.

When considering a franchise opportunity, you may want to think outside the box.  Often people looking at business opportunities search inside their current skill set or trade.

Carpenters look at construction related franchises, electrician looks at franchises in the electrical field, etc.  Consider the other experience you  have and think of how you could utilize that in almost any field.  You may have sales experience, marketing experience, management experience, etc. and none of these skills are “field” specific.

Grady Barnard began to look for opportunities outside his field and shares his experience of getting into the franchise arena below.

“Hi, my name is Grady Barnard.  I am in the Technology field with a great company, but wanted to diversify my income, so after looking at several opportunities decided to go with the Squad. In the end I feel as if this opportunity will give me financial freedom and a better quality of life for my family.

After looking at several opportunities, I decided on Mosquito Squad for several reasons:

  1. Initial Investment
  2. A true need in our area, plus the ability to help others enjoy the outdoors as I do – Mosquito Free
  3. A company (OLB) that has been around for a while with other successful franchise opportunities

So far the company has been a great help getting us started – I think what closed it was the fact they do not take everyone who has money to spend. You go through an evaluation process to determine:

1. if the opportunity is right for you

2. if you are a good fit with the company.

That was big in my mind.  I am looking forward to a big season in 2010.”

As you have read, Grady decided to think outside the box and consider utilizing his skills in an unrelated field to reach his goals.  With the right mind set, the sky is the limit with franchising.

As you begin your quest to learn more about business ownership, do your homework, and know the rules of the game.  When you are considering franchise opportunities, remember that the Federal Trade Commission has set forth many rules and guidelines that franchisors must follow to remain in compliance.

As a Franchise Recruiter for Outdoor Living Brands, I hear stories of interactions my candidates have had with other franchise opportunities.  Typically, when the first question I receive from a candidate is “How much money can I make”, I know they are either testing me and my credibility, or they may not have worked with ethical franchise professionals in the past. 

As per Federal Trade Commission rules, there is only one legal way to answer that question as a franchisor.  Franchisors may include an “earnings claim” in their Franchise Disclosure Document (or Unified Franchise Offering Circular), but must have the historical data required to verify the information being disclosed.  This “earnings claim” is found in the Franchise Disclosure Document as an “Item 19”. 

Most franchise concepts do not have an Item 19 in their Franchise Disclosure Document.  Perhaps the historical data isn’t available, the information does not put the franchise’s performance in a good light, or they are simply not comfortable providing that data up-front.  If you are looking at franchise concepts, and hear claims of “100% success rates” or “our franchisees make a lot of money”, etc., buyer beware – if you can not find this information documented, it may not be accurate.  Ask the franchise concept if their Franchise Disclosure Document contains and Item 19 – and if not, why?

Outdoor Living Brands currently works with franchise candidates of Archadeck, Mosquito Squad, and Outdoor Lighting Perspectives.  Each of these concepts offer an Item 19.

Remember the time when your goal was to land a job working for a large corporation?  You would be set for life, retire young, and have awesome benefits.  Do you still believe that is the correct goal or path?  Are you confident your job is secure and the corporation is “solidy and healthy”?

Each day I spend a good deal of time interviewing potential business owners as a Franchise Recruiter for Outdoor Living Brands.  I hear many stories of how people feel they were mislead or mistreated by Corporate America.  Promises made were not kept, they were swept up in the “downsizing” or even some ethically questionable behavior has been experienced. 

Many clients come to me scorned and bitter.  “Had I have known” is a common phrase.  Is this the time for you step back, take a long look in the mirror and ask the question – “Do I really know what is happening on the corporate level?”  Perhaps the time is right for you to start making the decisions.  What decisions you may ask – the ones that will impact your future and your business.  Ultimately, you are one responsible for your and your family’s destiny.

I am currently working with a client who told me “I have always been making these same types of decisions, been held accountable for them, but haven’t really reaped the rewards for my great track record.”  This is one of the reasons he has turned to franchising as an option.  There are many franchise opportunities out there, and finding the right option for you will require some due diligence on your part.  Utilize your talents and strengths and put them to work for you.  If you are considering leaving Corporate America behind and taking control of your own destiny, consider franchising as an option.

There are thousands of franchise offerings for you to choose from, but not all are good opportunities.  In many instances you will find there are leaders and there are followers.  With a bit of research into a franchise, you can determine if you are considering being a part of a leading franchise concept or a following franchise concept.

Leadership characteristics are apparent and can not be falsified or stolen.  At Outdoor Living Brands, we look for franchisees who exhibit leadership qualities – those who lead by example and attract those who take ownership and accountability for all that they do.  Leaders can admit when they are wrong or in error; leaders solve problems instead of working around them; leaders are visionaries – striving to do better instead of pointing out that they are better than some or most; leaders listen and learn rather than trying to impress others by talking and searching for or pointing out flaws.  

Many have suffered the wrath of the follow or “glory grabber”.  When a leader determines there is a better way of completing a task, and begins the quest of determining that correct path, a follower lingers in the background until the leader is finished and rushes to present the idea as their own.  Followers are constantly looking for ways to take other’s ideas and present them as their own.  Some may even admit to “borrowing” an idea – perhaps an attempt to justify their lack of creativity or masking questionable ethical behavior. 

What happens when a follower is tasked with making improvements, explaining a concept, or “taking it to the next level”?  Phrases we are all too familiar with begin to rear their ugly heads . . . “It’s the way we’ve always done it”; “That’s the way it’s always been” or the dreaded “I only work here”.  When you are considering franchise concepts, take the time to determine if this concept and franchisor is a leader or a follower.  Leaders will be setting the standards and blazing the path to the future – followers will always be playing catch up or riding on the coat tails of the successful. 

All men may be created equal, but not all franchise concepts are.

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.