July/August 2020 Previous Issues

Finding the Right Franchise Fit

With dozens of franchise opportunities out there to choose from, how do you know which is right for you? We take you through tips to meet your finance match.

The finance industry in Canada is booming. With new franchise systems coming onto the scene and established brands continuing their growth across the country, there are more options than ever for those wanting to join a system as a franchisee. From accounting to winemaking, franchises can be found in virtually every business category. This wide range of opportunities provides prospective franchisees with a great amount of choice, and a lot of questions they need to answer. One of the biggest questions prospective franchisees ask is: how do I find the franchise that best suits me? Here are three things any prospective franchisee can do to help find a franchise system that fits with their goals and passions.

1. Look in the mirror

Before you start to look at franchises, you should take a good look at yourself. This will help you to focus in on what you want and need from a franchise system, and to identify the skills and qualities you can bring to your potential role as a franchisee.

First, consider what you’re passionate about and how it could translate as a business—if you love animals, for instance, perhaps a pet grooming franchise would be of interest. As you identify ways that your passions could fit with your business goals, don’t forget to think about things that you absolutely don’t want to do. For example, if you have a passion for food, but dislike early mornings, it might make more sense to focus your investigations on restaurant franchises that don’t serve breakfast and open later in the day. Your friends and family members might be able to lend a hand as you come up with your lists.

Even if you’re considering franchising as a way to move in a new direction from your current line of work, you’ll want to take stock of the skills, qualities, education, and experience that you’ll be bringing to your franchise endeavour. Not only will franchisors be interested in your background, but having a good resume of your strengths can also help you zero in on your franchise fit.

If, for instance, you have a history of success in sales and marketing, maybe a business consulting franchise would work. Or, you could translate those skills into generating business for your franchise in a completely different sector that’s in line with your passions.

Another piece of the self-evaluation puzzle is a little more concrete. Once you’ve considered your passions and skills, you’ll also need to take a hard look at your financial situation. It’s important to know your net worth and assess whether your resources are readily available (unencumbered) or tied up in other assets (such as a house or car). An accountant who specializes in franchising can help you evaluate your finances and determine if you have the required resources to finance the franchises in which you are interested. (More on accountants and other valuable experts below!)

2. Get the facts

By the time you’ve created a good overview of what you could bring to the role of franchisee, you’ll probably be itching to start investigating and evaluating the franchise systems that meet your criteria.

There are many ways to go about this. One of the easiest and most popular is the internet. Sites like the Canadian Franchise Association’s (CFA) LookForAFranchise.ca provide search tools to help you find franchises by category, investment level, and location. You can also request further information and materials from individual systems.

Franchise publications (like the one you’re currently reading) can offer additional insight into franchise brands and the people who are making them a success. As well, they may introduce you to franchises that you had yet to discover or hadn’t previously considered.

Face-to-face communication can give you even more insight into the franchises you’re interested in. Attending a franchise tradeshow—like one of the Franchise Canada Shows taking place in Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver this fall—is a great way to meet with many representatives from franchise brands in a relaxed environment. Individual franchise systems may also hold their own ‘discovery day’ seminars to help prospective franchisees learn more in a live setting.

Once you’ve zeroed in on the franchises at the top of your consideration list, you’ll want to visit their locations, if possible, and familiarize yourself with their products and/or services. Another important step will be to meet with key team members at their head offices. This can give you a feel for the company culture and the people and personalities you’d be working closely with if you joined the system as a franchisee. It will be up to you to decide how comfortable you are with the system’s culture and people—be sure to listen to any ‘gut feelings’ you get.

3. Call in the experts

As you move along in your research, creating a team of franchise experts will help ensure your search stays on track, and that your eventual franchise business gets off to a great start. Here are a few professionals you’ll want to recruit. Keep in mind that many of these relationships can continue once you’ve established yourself as a franchisee.

  • As mentioned, a franchise accountant can help you assess your net worth, and can help in creating a business plan and cash flow for your business.
  • A franchise consultant can guide you in your self-evaluation and can point you toward franchises that might meet your needs.
  • A franchise lawyer can help you review any documentation and contracts and offer advice on issues such as irregularities or points of negotiation.
  • A franchise banker can assist you in creating a business financing package, including loans and other financial products.
  • A franchise insurance provider can help ensure you have the insurance coverage you need to protect your franchise business.

CFA’s franchise support services members include professionals from these disciplines and more, all of whom specialize in providing products and services for the franchise industry. The Supplier Directory offers information and contact details. Investing in a franchise business is an important decision; like all business ventures, there is some risk involved. One of the best ways to mitigate risk is to make the most informed decision possible, which is why it’s vital to do your due diligence before signing on the dotted line. Evaluating and assessing your own goals and strengths, fully investigating franchise systems, and assembling a solid support team to assist you should put you well on your way to finding your franchise fit.