Signing your franchise agreement is just the beginning
First, take a few moments to celebrate! Owning a franchise business is the pinnacle of the American dream. Congratulations! The hard work is just beginning but you are now ready to take on the future and your opportunities are endless.
Buying a franchise is an exciting, exhausting and exhilarating process. You started by researching a variety of franchise opportunities and found a business that seems just right. Then you attended a discovery day, paid your franchise fee and signed the contract. So far – so good. But, what happens next?
A great franchisor partner is there to help you get your business open as quickly as possible and will likely want you to begin with training. This usually involves all or a combination of the following: reading manuals and watching DVDs, attending training classes at their corporate facility, and taking online classes via the company intranet. Some franchisors provide personnel who will visit your location for further training and there are also franchisors that find it to be beneficial for franchisees to get some hands-on experience and will have them work at a company store or in the store of another franchisee.
The franchisor’s goal is to move you through the learning curve as quickly as possible so expect to get hit with a large amount of material in a short amount of time. Besides learning how to best provide the product or service you will be offering your customers, your training will cover many other items such as setting up your business, how to market your business, how to hire and train employees, and how to manage the back office aspects (like accounting and reporting) of your new venture.
Setting Your Schedule
Now that you’re a franchisee, it’s important that you understand and develop a schedule. Because the franchisor has so much experience developing franchise units, they can identify all those items you will need to accomplish before you put the open sign on your door. They know the difficulty quotient of each item and how long each step is expected to take. They might ask you to begin with the steps that take the longest to avoid delays in the process. Finding your real estate, hiring employees, or locating subcontractors to do construction may be your first items of business, depending on your particular circumstances.
You’ll want to pay close attention to these steps because each may require the completion of one task before the next can be initiated. For example, once you have a location selected and a lease signed, you may need to work on such items as the construction of the unit and perhaps special zoning or permit issues required by the local government.
Working with a Checklist
Most likely the reason you chose to buy a franchise over other self-employment options is that you appreciate that so much of the work has been done for you. This is the real beauty of franchising …if you follow the franchisor’s rules, steps and guidelines, you have a far greater chance of obtaining the financial rewards seen by the most successful franchisees in the system. After all, isn’t that why you decided on this business?
A checklist may seem like a small thing but it can provide big results in helping you to get your business open. Use your checklist to understand and develop the timing on every item so that you can be sure you are staying on schedule and will meet your opening goals. For example, the list may have an item which says: “Six weeks prior to opening: Place order for your signage.”
Just like the many people who have gone this road before you, you will probably find that becoming a franchisee can be both exciting and frightening. The wait from purchase to opening your business can seem either interminable or as if it’s all happening too quickly. If you are feeling unsure or uneasy, be sure to contact your franchisor. One of the many benefits of being a franchisee is that you can use the franchisor’s experience to make the opening process go relatively smoothly.
Finally, be sure you have set realistic expectations for the process of opening your business. Many items, such as finding real estate, can take months or longer to accomplish. By always assuming the longest amount of time in the timeframe provided and the higher of the expenses estimated, you’ll avoid unpleasant surprises. Knowing exactly what you need to accomplish and when will take a great deal of the stress out of the process of starting your business.
Stephen Covey, in his book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, suggests you begin with the end in mind. This way you’ll make all your decisions based on what will bring you to your goal—great advice for anyone in any industry. Here’s wishing you whopping success in your new venture!