Easy Does It

Not So Fast

There is a downside to franchising's perfect fit with this convenience trend: More franchisors are entering the market for convenience-hungry consumers, making it tough to profit in certain types of businesses, says Gordon. "Even if a business has a magic word such as 'convenience,' this doesn't mean it's a winner," he explains. "There's nothing magical about a convenience business or a franchise. When you have a good match between the entrepreneur and the business, plus a strategic model that makes economic sense and is well-executed, nothing's more powerful."

While many franchisors are capitalizing on the convenience trend, Elaine Romanelli, associate professor of strategy and entrepreneurship at the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University in Washington, DC, warns against franchisors that are "highly economy-dependent." "If and when the economy slows or takes a tumble, demand for these services will be one of the first things to decline," she says.

Finally, Romanelli warns that successful franchising of any sort of personal service business--including services such as house-painting, gardening and plumbing, in addition to more personal services--is one of the most difficult tricks to pull off. "Personal services can't be systemized in quite the way McDonald's or Mail Boxes Etc. can," she explains. "The quality of the personal service depends greatly on the competence, reliability and interpersonal skills of the individuals offering the service."

With that in mind, Gordon warns franchisees to be very careful before pursuing any trendy franchises. You'll need to determine whether the franchise will allow you to successfully offer a high level of personalized service. "Thorough research is absolutely critical," says Gordon. "The time to learn about its long-term prospects is before you reach for your checkbook."

For more detailed information on franchises that provide convenience services to consumers, visit Entrepreneur's Franchise Zone.

Bob Weinstein is the author of 10 books and is a frequent contributor to national magazines.

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This article was originally published in the December 1999 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Easy Does It.

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