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How to determine the best-fit franchise before taking the leap

There are nearly 754,000 franchise owners in the United States, and interest in owning a franchise has never been higher. The advantages of owning a franchise as a path to entrepreneurship are compelling. And the freedom you can gain through franchise ownership is often life changing. But, choosing the right franchise makes a huge difference on your happiness and ultimately, your success as an owner.

Consider these factors to determine the best-fit franchise for you.
Whether you’re just beginning your research into potential franchisors, or you’re getting ready to make a final decision, be sure that you’re factoring in this advice when making a decision:

1. Consider what you want/need (or don’t) from a prospective franchisor

It can actually be beneficial to sit down and create a list of “must-haves” and “wants” when it comes to the support, resources, etcetera you’ll receive from a prospective franchisor. For example, if you’re looking for a completely turn-key solution with heavy franchisor involvement, there are certain companies that may be a better fit for you.

If you’d prefer a franchisor who is more hands off, giving you more flexibility in key areas of importance to you, then that’s something to ask about to shorten your prospective list right off the bat.

And that’s just one factor to consider on your list. Write down every possible thing you may want to ask about, get help with, or consider when talking to potential franchisors. You can always narrow down the list later. It’s better to get all your ideas down as early as possible.

2. Talk to current owners at your narrowed-down list of potential franchises

Don’t underestimate the power of talking to current (or past) franchise owners. If you want to get a real idea what it’s like to own a franchise, talking to owners themselves is an excellent way to get candid feedback and observations.

Just as when you’re getting recommendations from family or friends, or especially online reviews, you may want to take some things with a grain of salt. Some owners or previous owners may have an ax to grind (although our human instincts can often kick in and let us know that something may be a bit too extreme or emotional).

Hearing negative or critical feedback may not necessarily be an instant disqualification, particularly if they’ve met some of the other criteria you’ve set. But, if you hear something that gives you pause, be sure to ask about it when talking to the franchisor. There may be some additional information that can help illuminate that criticism.

If you’re not sure where to find current owners, you can ask the franchisor. Or, you can search LinkedIn for “owner [FRANCHISOR]” and reach out to someone who you find in the search results.

3. Think about whether or not you would want to buy something from that business.

Owning a business can be a lifetime decision, and at the very least it’s a major investment of time, money, and heart. When considering potential franchisors, ask yourself if you would buy from that company. Whether it’s the product or service, the quality of the items or service, or the customer service itself, a positive experience for you as a CONSUMER can more often than not tie into a positive experience as an owner.

4. Review metrics and data

Potential franchisors should have excellent data and metrics in core areas to help you determine viability and potential for success in your market. Some metrics and data to pay especially close attention to include:

> Brand growth year over year : Especially since the COVID-19 pandemic began – showing growth (or even stagnation) over these last few years can be a compelling case for long-term success, as so many other businesses have struggled.
> Initial and ongoing investment: Of course, this one is always going to be at or near the top for prospective owners like yourself. You want and need to know how much your initial investment will cost, and how much you’ll be investing moving forward.
> Potential for repeat business: Repeat business is the lifeblood of any franchise, and the more repeat customers you can earn (and keep), the higher the likelihood of your success. This is an area where well-run restaurants really shine (yes, like Shaka Kitchen!).
> Competition in your market: There are a few angles to consider here. One is the proximity of the nearest from within your same franchisor (some franchises sell locations within a fairly close distance, while others provide larger service areas – get clear answers on where your closest fellow-owner will be). The other angle is, of course, direct competitors in your area. If you’re looking at fast-casual restaurants, for example, you may want to look at how many similar restaurants are in their market, how successful they’ve been (with your best data available) and how close they’ll be to your prospective location. You’ll also want to compare what you learn against the marketing and advertising support you’ll be getting from a prospective franchisor to help you stand out from the competition.

And these are just to start! Want to learn more about owning a Shaka Kitchen franchise? We’d love to talk to you! Contact us through this form and a member of our franchising team will reach out.