The Franchise market in the U.S. alone boasts over 3,500 franchises and in many states, the true number of franchise opportunities is unknown. For a buyer working through the decision making process as to what the best franchise investment might be, this can be a daunting task.
It starts with determining your own skill set and abilities, what have you done in the past that could be leveraged in a new franchise business, what skill sets are you strong in and could be a benefit in the new business, what would you like to get out of a franchised business investment? In most cases, it makes sense to ask someone else to provide an assessment of your abilities, it can be difficult in most cases to be honest and without bias. There are great tools out there which can provide a personality test or professional skills review for you.
Once you have your personal assessment together, you can begin to research which business models fit your profile best. Some franchise businesses require salesmanship and the ability to be comfortable prospecting for customers while others need an owner operator who has been in retail and managed staff effectively in the past. If your evaluation is accurate, you will be able to narrow down your selections of franchise industries and be able to determine which categories might make the most sense for you. When looking for the most profitable franchise, it is important to recognize that the franchise itself does not inherently produce profitability, regardless of how great of a business model it might be. It is the combination of a good market, good business model and a good operator that makes franchise systems profitable at the unit level.
Now that we have narrowed down our industries, it’s time to review the market segment. There are several ways to look at “market”, one is the area where you would be operating the business from and what customers you would be providing the goods or services to. You should do extensive research on your area and determine whether that market has the right demographics, income levels and population density to support the franchise businesses you are considering. Use online data to start your research, sites like www.Score.org are a good start, then get specific with direct research by interviewing business owners and professionals who would have relevant experience related to the business in that market. The second “market” is the overall industry you are considering entering with the franchised business, food service, cleaning or accounting would be considered in this category. You now need to research the potential growth for your industry, competition, market trends….how will technology affect this industry? All of these elements could make your franchise more or less profitable and if you don’t do the planning prior to your franchise purchase, you could unknowingly be making the wrong move.
Now it’s time to research the franchises themselves. You should have a list of at least three concepts that interest you and warrant additional research. Start by researching any available data on the franchise brand, what has worked, what hasn’t, why have there been failures in the market, why have some franchises succeeded? Review the FDD in detail, read all 23 Items and the exhibits to the document including the Franchise Agreement and Financial Statements. Ask the franchisor about every question that comes to mind and take good notes. Towards the end of the FDD are other franchisees who are either in the system or have left the system, take the time to call and interview them about their experience with the franchise brand. Go visit the franchisor AND franchisees, interview them in person and ask detailed questions. Compile your data and compare the brands to one another, then do the gut check as to which franchisor you feel the most comfortable working with and who you could envision yourself “married” to.
At that point, you have most likely discovered the Most Profitable Franchise. I’m sorry it isn’t a one word answer, but if you take the time and invest in the process of researching the right franchise, you certainly have the best opportunity to realize a good return on your franchise investment.
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