You’ve signed the franchise agreement, now what?
There are many articles, blog posts, and books covering the research and selection process of investing in a franchise. There is considerably less content out there about what happens after the contracts are signed and the new franchisee must begin their franchise journey.
Spotlighted in this article are the stories of three Snap-On franchisees who have successfully transitioned into franchise ownership. Here we examine their first three years of franchise ownership. They have kindly shared their personal experiences to help provide prospective franchisees, as well as franchisees that have just begun their franchised business, within any industry insight into five of the most important things for new franchisees to remember in the months just after the agreement is signed.
1. BE PREPARED FOR A VERY LARGE COMMITMENT, ESPECIALLY IN THE FIRST YEAR
The so-called “ground work” may have been done in developing the business and the process that works for that particular business, but as a franchisee you are still beginning a business from the start.
“They need to be prepared for total dedication for the first year,”
says Scott Papish who has been operating his Hughson, California franchise for over two years.
“Expect full days, some paperwork on the weekends. Don’t treat it like a job, you are the boss. Do what you need on a daily basis to make your business thrive.”
For moral support and outside ideas, Papish also recommends that in the beginning franchisees should surround themselves with successful neighboring franchisees.
2. DON’T BE AFRAID TO RELY ON FRANCHISOR SUPPORT
The franchise model is the reason, or one of the main reasons, you bought into the business. At its ideal level, the franchisor-franchisee relationship is meant to a symbiotic one that produces the most possible success for both parties. Orlando, Florida franchisee Chip Ellis “relied on the support of the regional management team a great deal in the first year of operating my franchise.”
However, for some franchisees the basics of the franchise system are enough to put them on the path toward success without much more additional assistance. This was the case for Simi Valley, California franchisee Karl Miller, who found he needed “no more than the standard training” to feel comfortable when beginning his franchise.
3. SUPPLEMENT THE FRANCHISOR’S KNOWLEDGE WITH YOUR OWN
After 18 years in healthcare sales, Ellis made the transition into franchise ownership. Though he entered an entirely different industry through his franchise, he found that his prior experiences served him greatly. “My consultative sales training has been invaluable,” he says. “Understanding the sales process and how to move people from seeing a product to owning that product has been the most important” management skill to him in owning a franchise.
4. REMAIN AS ORGANIZED AS POSSIBLE
Managing all of the different resources within your control is paramount to establishing your franchised business at the start. These resources vary from franchise to franchise, but commonly include personnel, inventory, and the one commonly at the top of the list of resources to make efficient use of: time. “Time management is very important in operating a franchise,” according to Ellis. “Being able to compartmentalize and multi-task and use every minute to accomplish something, be it administrative or sales related, throughout the day is critical.”
Drawing from past experiences is a great place to pull knowledge from in the quest to remain on top of things. “Having worked entry level positions all the way to upper management I was prepared for the challenge,” says Papish, who said his prior work experience from retail and route sales was “the biggest help” in understanding the requirements that would be upon him as a franchise owner.
5. THE CUSTOMER IS KING
Without customers there will be no business. So it doesn’t come as a surprise that all three franchisees mentioned customer service as an especially important part of beginning as a franchisee. You want to grow a customer base that will patronize your business regularly, and hopefully stay and grow with you throughout the years of your franchise agreement. “Treat your customers like you would want to be treated, they are your future,” says Papish. “Building strong relations with these people will always set you apart from the competition.”
The one thing all of these franchisees strongly impressed upon me is the need to follow the program that franchisor has developed. You may not be working with a franchisor with over 90 years of experience like Snap-On like they are, but you are working with a company that has spent countless hours and resources, financial and otherwise, to work out the kinks. It will take hard work, but once the franchised business is up and running, the rewards can be great. As Miller divulges, “In my old career I was paid on commission and when I closed a big sale I would get a small percentage of the profit. Today when I close a big one, the profit is all mine.”