A Franchise – Is it Right for You?
For some entrepreneurs, acquiring a franchise is an option worth exploring. Franchise operations exist in almost every industry. The common denominator is a successful business model, beginning with an established name. In exchange for giving up a certain level of autonomy and creativity, the franchise operator acquires a turnkey business with a proven set of operating guidelines and management systems.
As with any other venture worth pursuing, you’ll increase your chances of small business success in a franchise by doing your research. That means researching and evaluating not only specific franchise opportunities but the business line or industry you are considering: its growth rate, competition, the target market and how that industry is doing in your region. Here are some resources to consult as you perform due diligence on franchises:
- If you are interested in obtaining start-up funding from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), a good place to start is the SBA’s franchise registry at http://www.franchiseregistry.com. There you’ll see that the SBA has pre-qualified dozens of franchises. If a franchise is eligible for the registry, the SBA will expedite loan processing for its prospective owners.
- The International Franchise Association offers an online franchise opportunities guide at http://www.franchise.org. You can also reach the Washington, D.C., headquarters at 202/628-8000 or by email at email@example.com.
- Another nonprofit trade association is the American Association of Franchisees and Dealers, based in San Diego. It features an online guide to buying a franchise at http://www.aafd.org. The association also has an accreditation program for franchises. The telephone number is 1-800/733-9858, or you can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Entrepreneur Magazine publishes a list of the “Franchise 500,” which includes the top ten franchises for the coming year. The Web site is www.entrepreneur.com.
Once you review the information provided by the franchisor, you should get in touch with current or former franchisees with a prepared list of questions.
For additional information on franchises, contact Lancaster SCORE, “Counselors to America’s Small Business.” SCORE is a nonprofit organization of more than 50 business mentors who donate their time, experience and expertise to assist entrepreneurs in starting, growing and operating small businesses. Mentoring is free and confidential. Call us at 717-397-3092 or find us online at www.scorelancaster.org