Written by : Lori Karpman
This is the number one question I get asked by potential franchise prospects and it's an important question. I always answer with a confident and resounding “NO”. The only exception of course is the obvious one where the franchise is in a specialized industry that by its very nature requires a skill set, such as accounting, or medicine for example. Do ask the question though, as sometimes all you are required to do is engage someone with that expertise and not actually have it yourself.
The reason for not needing experience is quite elementary really when you think about it. There are just too many ideas and concepts out there capable of being franchised. The hallmark of a successful franchise system is its ability to replicate itself over and over, anywhere. For this to occur, it must be able to train others to operate the business in exactly the same manner as the original unit. Consistency is the key to victory on the franchise playground. The consumer expects the same experience everytime no matter where they are. To the extent that you can deliver that, the system will grow and more franchises will be sold. So you can see how important an element training is from the franchisor's point of view.
When a franchisor is creating their system, they are doing just that-creating a “system”, and that is what you are buying. It is this set of rules, procedures and policies that make up the ‘system”, that you will learn during your “Training Period”. This period begins right after you sign your Franchise Agreement. Though every franchisor conducts it differently, it almost always involves a combination of training at head office and then at your location before and after you open for business. During this time you will be taught all of the administrative, operational, marketing and financial rules that you will be required to abide by. Keep in mind that breach of these procedures is a default under your Franchise Agreement. Now folks, you bought the system because it works-so use it the way it is taught-because the day you think you can do it better, faster, cheaper, smarter-is the day you will begin to lose money! As a former master franchisee of a national brand and founder of a franchised restaurant chain-I speak from experience!
During your due diligence period then, it is important to ask to see the Operations and Marketing Manuals. These are the tools that the franchisor gives you to operate and develop your business. You want to make sure they are complete and professional. In franchising it is the job of the franchisor to give you the tools, but the franchisees job to use them properly and to their best advantage. You want to ensure you are getting top quality tools to work with. It will also give you an idea of how committed the franchisor is to the development of the franchisee's business and the brand in general.
As far as costs go, the Training Fee is generally part of the Initial Franchise Fee, but do ask, as sometimes it is an additional fee. This is usually clearly stated though. What is never covered is the travel, meals and lodging of the head office training portion. This is at the cost of the franchisee so do figure this amount in your initial investment expenses.
A good system also offers continual training throughout the year on various topics ranging from product information to sales techniques to whatever is relevant to growing your business. Every system has field representatives who are there to help you at any time and you really should take advantage of them-not enough franchisees do and the are a valuable resource.
Most franchisors actually prefer that prospects DO NOT have experience in the industry, making them a clean slate and easier to train. Any system worth its weight in salt will gladly provide you with all the training you need. It is in their best interest to see that you are comfortable running your business and have the tools you need to make it a grand success!
Wishing you all the best of luck!
POINTS TO CONSIDER
You do not need to have experience in the field of the franchise you are interested in unless it is a highly specialized industry requiring a specific skill set or designation.
The Training Period begins after you sign the Franchise Agreement and includes administrative, operational, marketing and financial aspects of the “system”.
The Training Fee is generally covered in the Initial Franchise Fee (do confirm though) but travel, lodging and meals are not, so add this amount into your opening budget of expenses.
You are buying a franchise because you want a system that works-so use it as it is and do not modify it. If it ain't broke-don't fix it!