Prepare for what you can expect during your first year owning a franchise.
As with any new endeavor, it’s important to have realistic expectations when opening a franchise business. Although exhilarating, the first year is often the most difficult. From settling into processes to hiring and training staff and building a customer base, it’s a lot to manage. While franchisors strive to adequately prepare new franchisees to achieve success there is still a degree of the unknown. Every franchisee encounters different challenges, and you will be learning as you go. Get a head start by preparing yourself for what to expect in your first year of owning a franchise.
You Will be Busy
Don’t expect a lot of free time. If there is one guarantee, it’s that you’ll start off busy. When opening a franchise, many franchisees relish the idea of no longer being tied to the traditional 9-to-5 schedule of corporate life. However, when you own a franchise, your workday doesn’t have a clear beginning or end, especially in the first year. Prepare for long days and stressful nights as you find your groove. Owning a franchise requires a significant amount of preparation and adjustment, and as the business owner you may not always get to clock out at closing time. While you may have wanted to open a franchise to be your own boss, that means more, not less, responsibility. Overseeing it all means there are no set hours for you, at least not until things begin to run more smoothly and your day-to-day becomes more routine.
Finding Customers Takes Time
When you open a franchise as opposed to starting your own business, you get established brand equity in the franchise name along with a proven business model, system of operation, training, and support. However, you still need to find and build your customer base. Marketing to the right target audience is crucial, especially if the franchise brand isn’t well known in your area. Look into affordable ways to get your name out there and look to both fellow franchisees within your network and competitors to build a strategy that works for you and your new business.
Roller Coaster of Emotion
Regardless of what industry you enter and what franchise brand you choose to partner with, there will be good days and bad days. The important thing to keep in mind is that the road to success isn’t linear. Every business has its ups and downs, but this may be the first time you’re experiencing them firsthand. One benefit of owning a franchise is having the experience and support of an established brand behind you. You can always lean on your franchisor for advice if you need assistance, but perseverance is key. Opening a franchise business can be a rewarding experience, making the struggles you may encounter initially worth it in the long run.
Be Financially Prepared
When opening a franchise business, it’s easy to focus on only labor and overhead costs. But you need to consider—and allow for—costs that may not be a part of your daily operations but vital to your business. Hiring an accountant early on will help keep your finances straight and your paperwork in order. Also, keep in mind that most of your earnings in the first year will go towards covering expenses or be reinvested in the business. Talk to your franchisor and fellow franchisees to get an idea of how long it may take to become profitable and plan accordingly.
Success Doesn’t Happen Overnight
While it’s true that a stroke of unexpected luck can give a business a boost, the real key to growth and longevity when opening a franchise business is simply hard work. There is no magic solution to make your franchise successful. It requires a significant amount of time and effort, and that doesn’t happen overnight. Be careful not to look at long-established fellow franchisees as a benchmark for comparison in your first year. Those franchise owners most likely experienced many highs and lows to get where they are now. Study successful franchises and talk to other owners in the network for pointers on ironing out processes and strategy and even draw inspiration, but do not use them as a basis for comparison. No one takes the same path and you need to be patient with yourself as you seek your own finish line.
Whether you are a new franchisee about to open your doors for business or still researching to find the perfect franchise to invest in, keep these things to expect in your first year of owning a franchise in mind. Opening a franchise business comes with many advantages, thanks to the nature of the business model itself, but anticipating smooth sailing from day one is not realistic. The old adage, “Expect the unexpected” could not be truer when it comes to owning your own business. Your best defense is to expect problems to arise occasionally and be proactive in avoiding them.