Wednesday, January 2, 2008

The Search for a Franchise

And so the search was on - how to find that elusive franchise. My requirements were simple:

  • An established product

  • A proven product

  • An established business model

  • Easy money (was I asking too much?)

  • Preferably with little work (yes I know its been drummed into us that hard work pays off in long run, but I prefer the concept of easy work paying off or my ultimate goal very little easy work paying off!)

    Surely this wasn't to much to ask given that I had the money to purhcase that elusive exclusive franchise!

    So hours and days spent trawling through the usual websites,, Franchise Pit-Stop, Franchise UK, Which Franchise The Franchise Magazine, Franchise World, etc etc etc

    It does strike me that one of these "purchase a franchise" sites will soon start to franchise its own business model - "buy a business franchise to sell other business' franchises" - the ultimate pyramid scheme?

    So long days were spent contemplating cooker cleaning franchises, childrens furniture franchises, dog grooming franchises, sushi franchises, drain cleaning franchises, bin cleaning franchises, golf franchises, online franchises, website building franchises, websearch optimiztion franchises, burger franchises, vegetarian burger franchises, vegan burger franchises................

    Eventually I came across a B 2 B franchise long established in Europe but effectively untried in the UK and Ireland. It seemed to tick all those boxes.

  • Established for 20 years

  • Successful in many other countries

  • An established business model

  • Easy to sell

  • And so I jumped on a plane and travelled to the head office to meet the chief exectutive.

    Lesson 1- I met the chief executive and in a minute had summed him up as someone I could easily steamroll over in a business meeting and get my way. I was right and I thought this was good!!!! - wrong wrong wrong!

    I had approached the meeting as a normal business transaction and intended to get as much of their product / service for the least possible price - a "normal business transaction". Buying a franchise is not a "normal business transaction", when you buy a franchise you are not only getting an exclusive distribution area but you are also buying their corporate knowledge, their years of experience. Together that should stop you falling into the pitfalls that they fell into whilst building their business. My first mistake.

    Lesson 2 The head office no longer ran a sales office themselves and they focussed purely on running the Franchising aspect of their business. The business founder had recently passed away. Business changes year to year, month to month, day to day, hour to hour - it is essential that the Franchisor runs some hands on offices themseves to keep them abreast of changes in their own business. This is paricularly true in sales and all business is sales

    The head office was now divorced from the actual nuts and bolts of running their Franchise and relied on their franchisees to give them feedback as to what works and what doesn't!

    Well guess what as a Franchisee if I work my butt off to develop new sales techniques or marketing plan, without help or support from the head office do I really want to share them with my head office. The same head office who charge me a royalty for every product unit I sell - what's in it for me! My second mistake.

    Lesson 3 I believed it when they told me that the best method for selling the product was telesales, that conversion rates of 5-10% were possible. My third mistake.

    So three significant mistakes when selecting my Franchise and developing my business plan. So now with both arms tied firmly behind my back I set off into the boxing match of B 2 B sales.

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