An In-depth Step-by-Step Guide to Buying a Franchise

Approximately 1 out of 12 businesses in the USA is a franchise business. Opportunities like franchising and entrepreneurship through acquisition are some of the great ideas for business minded people looking to run a business without the struggle of creating a new business from scratch. However, establishing a successful franchise takes more than merely finding an ideal franchisor and financing your business. It is a complex step that requires careful planning and strategizing. You need to conduct comprehensive research, review the necessary documents, and follow the steps below.


Conduct Rigorous Research.

Finding out the necessary information is the first step you should take when you need to buy a franchise. Thorough research will ensure that you venture into a field of your interest, within your budget and your qualifications. You need to ensure that you meet the basic requirements necessary to start a franchise and also assess your resources, skills, and interests. Your research needs to involve:

Talking To Franchisees.

Take time to talk to current franchisees. Gaining an insight into their experience with franchising will help you avoid mistakes in yours, and examine what they did right and maybe use it for your business. Through franchisees, you will also identify the pros, cons, challenges, and the hidden costs of running a franchise.

The Type of Franchise.

Choosing the right franchise is an important step. To arrive at the right decision, you will need to examine your skills, the type of environment you want to work in, your interests, and your goals. Depending on your needs and budget, you can find companies willing to sell a start-up or already established business. You should also determine the amount of money you are ready to invest and the profits you would like to make from the franchise. This information will help you choose the right franchise.

The Qualifications Requirements.

Franchisors set minimum requirements to their franchisees to protect their bottom line and ensure that the franchisees are qualified both financially and professionally. Qualifications vary depending on the type of franchise and the franchisors, but the standard requirements include a credit score, management experience, industry experience, net worth, outside income, and cash in hand.

Fill Your Initial Application Forms and FDDs

Once you have done your research and identified the franchise, the next step is to choose 1 to 3 companies to consider. These companies will give you a representative who will provide you with information about their company. You will also fill the first applications forms and preliminary questionnaires. If the franchise is satisfied with your answers, you will receive a copy of the franchise disclosure document (FDD).

The FDD is a 50+ page document which indicates the fees you need to pay, your responsibilities as a franchise, information about the franchisor, and your responsibilities as a franchisee. Make sure you study this document to ensure that it is a good fit. The federal trade commission mandates franchisors to provide franchisees with the FDD at least 14 days prior to making any binding agreements.

Review The Agreement.

If the franchisor decides that you are the right candidate to acquire their business, they will draft and offer a formal contract. Reviewing the agreement ensures that you understand everything before you sign it, so take time to read through the document and hire a franchise lawyer to help you gain a better understanding of the terms of the contract. The contract gives you the legal right to own a franchise under their rules and regulations. The contract should indicate the rules on the transfer of ownership, royalty fees, hiring staff, protection of territory, pricing, suppliers, among others. Any promises made verbally also need to be put in writing, and any discrepancies between verbal and written terms should be clarified.

Investigate The Company.

Once you have settled on a franchisor, you will then need to investigate the company. Buying a franchise involves developing a relationship with the company; it is vital to make sure that it is the right relationship, therefore, take time to talk to its executives, ask questions and also gather information about the company on your own.

Attending a discovery day is a good opportunity for the franchisee to get to know the franchise. It is an opportunity to learn about their culture and understand the people who will be working with you. Make sure you ask questions and voice your concerns during discovery day. A typical discovery day involves one-on-one meetings, interviews, a visit to the franchise location, and group presentations.

A discovery day is also beneficial to the franchise company. It allows them to get to know you better and assess whether you are a good fit for their company. They will also evaluate your level of enthusiasm and commitment at this will dictate their decision to sell a business to you.

Acquire Finances.

You cannot run a business without finances. Before you buy a business, make sure you acquire finances to cover the costs of running a business. Franchisors may help arrange finances, but you will also need to qualify for financing on your own. A credit score of 700 gives you a better chance of securing funding. You can finance your start-up through SBA loans, traditional banks loans, search fund, rollover for business start-ups (ROBS), or a government grant.

Create A Business Plan.

A business plan is not only a guideline for your business, but it also aids in acquiring finances. It keeps you focused, help you achieve your goals, keep you in the right track, and through market analysis, it gives you a better understanding of your market. Document every detail of your business to ensure that everything runs smoothly.  

A business plan shows investors that they are investing in a company with a vision and one which will last and grow. It helps them understand your vision and passions and shows where their money is going. Franchise opportunities require careful considerations, and creating a business plan helps in assessing the visibility of your franchise.

Talk To a Franchise Attorney.

If you are considering franchising, make sure you talk to a franchise attorney. These attorneys specialize in franchising, and they have a vast knowledge of franchising. A qualified franchise attorney will help you know everything that you need to know about franchising. This is because they know what to focus on in the FDD and the franchise contract; writing and working on similar documents gives them better insight. They know what to look for when reviewing the documents.

A good franchise attorney also helps the franchisee choose the best entity for their business. The right entity determines the legal rights and liabilities of the business and its taxation. You can also rely on your attorney for help when things do not work out as you expected. They also form an invaluable asset for the business as they can help negotiate the terms and conditions of the agreement and offer guidance to the aspects of the contract that are vague.

Picking a Location.

Take into consideration the guidelines and recommendations of the franchisor to help you find an ideal location. In some cases, the franchisor may have strict rules for a commercial real estate, including the number of parking lots, territory requirements, and the minimum squire footage.

Leasing a space is cost-effective, and less risky; however, if you intend to be in the place for more than seven years, consider buying your location. Whether it is leasing or purchasing a space, consider the safety of the area, the location of your employees and customers, the square footage, and negotiate the price. 

Acquire The Necessary Skills And Knowledge Of Running A Business.

Before you open your business, take the opportunity to acquire the necessary skills and knowledge to run a franchise. Typically, the franchisor will provide training sessions which will tackle everything you need to know about the business, including the policies and guidelines, the products and services the systems you will be using. Working in a store is an ideal way of determining how a franchise works and whether your skills and personality match the company culture.

Open Your Business.

This is the final step; it comes after you have finalized everything, and the franchisor representative approves your location. The franchisor will give you a hand during the actual opening. Marketing your grand opening is an excellent way to Promote and market the business. It ensures that you build your customer base quickly. Before the grand opening, potential alert customers of the existence of your store, and you can also do a soft opening to identify and deal with the operation problems before the grand opening. In most cases, the franchisor has pre-determined promotion ideas, signage, and ads for the grand opening.

It is worth noting that franchising does not eliminate the risks of owning a business. However, it allows the entrepreneur to handle the responsibilities that come with owning a business. It comes with an already established business model and brand.