The first step to setting up a successful franchise is to create and test a prototype of your concept. In your case, since you’ve successfully run your business for 12 years, you have certainly met this standard. The second step is to solicit professional advice in three key areas you’ll need to consider: (1) the feasibility of turning your prototype operation into a franchise, (2) the costs and funding requirements you will need to establish a franchise and (3) the initial staff expertise you will need to hire in order to successfully run a franchise. The third step is to evaluate the information you’ve gathered and decide whether this is really what you want to do.
Your first call should probably be with an experienced franchise attorney -- there are a number of them listed on the website of the International Franchise Association. Most of these professionals will meet with you and conduct an initial consultation at no cost. During this meeting, they will be able to outline all the many projects that will have to be completed and the typical costs involved in setting up a franchise company. They will also tell you the expertise you’ll need to acquire in terms of establishing an effective franchise sales operations and providing operational and marketing support to the franchisees you bring into your business. Count on learning that it will likely take at least six to 12 months and $500,000 to do this properly. If that makes you shout, "Yikes!" then your decision to abort will be fairly easy.
Franchising can be a fantastic strategy for growing a business, but it's an undertaking that always seems to require more time, effort and money to succeed than anyone expects going into it. hink back to the first year or two after you started your current business, while you were probably working long hours and paying your dues for little or no immediate return, that’s what starting a franchise operation will be like. It can be a wonderful idea but it is not for everyone.
Jeff Elgin has almost 20 years of experience franchising, both as a franchisee and a senior franchise company executive. He's currently the CEO of FranChoice Inc., a company that provides free consulting to consumers looking for a franchise that best meets their needs.