Opening a franchise -- or any business, for that matter -- is exciting, albeit nerve wracking. There’s a lot to get done, and you don’t want to miss anything that will keep your business from being a success. Here’s your big checklist to refer to before you open your franchise.
1. Do Your Homework. Before you sign the dotted line on your franchising agreement, make sure you’ve done your due diligence about the brand you’re about to invest in. Ask for financials and talk to other franchisees. You should feel confident about investing in this company.
2. Choose an Appropriate Business Structure. If you do nothing to change your business structure, you will by default be a sole proprietorship. Still, a corporation or LLC is worth considering, because they protect your personal assets and have favorable tax conditions. Find out if your franchisor has any advice on the best business structure for your location.
3. Apply for Business Licenses. Every business needs some sort of business licenses or permits. If you plan to operate a food franchise, you’ll have plenty of red tape to handle with your local health department, so start your planning early to give yourself time to be approved to operate before your launch date.
4. Get Marketing Material from Your Franchisor. You’ll likely receive a starter pack with signs and marketing material to get started. Incorporate this with your own marketing plan (yes, you’ll be on your own for the local marketing part).
5. Order Your Equipment. That definitely includes a credit card machine (and make sure to get an EMV-friendly one, since there’s a new push toward using them). It might also include computers, point-of-sale systems, and machinery you need to run your business.
6. Plan Your Inventory. Beyond ordering the products you need to get started, you’ll want to establish relationships with vendors, negotiate for the best price, and get on a schedule for your orders so you never run out.
7. Hire Employees. Even if you don’t plan to open for weeks, hiring employees now can give you ample time to train them, and give you muscle to get your store in order.
8. Make Renovations. Once you secure commercial space, you probably will need to modify the space to accommodate your franchise. This can be time-consuming, and you’ve likely heard horror stories about contractors working beyond their deadlines, so plan ahead.
9. Set Up Your Social Profiles. If you plan to use social media to market your franchise (and you should), set up your profiles now, before you open, so you’re ready to roll when those doors open.
10. Put on a Smile. Once you’re ready to open, make sure you and your staff have the welcoming attitude that will attract new customers and get them to come back again and again.
Susan Payton is the President of Egg Marketing & Communications, a marketing firm specializing in content writing and social media management. She’s written three business books, including How to Get More Customers With Press Releases, and frequently blogs about small business and marketing on sites including Forbes, AllBusiness, The Marketing Eggspert Blog, and Tweak Your Biz. Follow her on Twitter @eggmarketing.