When it comes to opening a franchise that started off as a regional phenomenon, "the market will always tell you what it wants," says Anthony Geisler, president of LA Boxing Franchise Corp. Keeping that in mind, Mike Lassiter, founder of franchise consultancy Franchising Concepts, offers some advice for opening a franchise in unfamiliar territory.
- Make sure you love the company. Just because you love its food or think it has a cool product doesn't mean it's right for you. Lassiter says you not only need to "connect with the brand, but you also need to love the type of business you're getting into."
- Research the company. Check out its history, talk to other franchisees, get validation on profitability and look into its development strategy and management structure, explains Lassiter. "Make sure a team is in place that can take the company to the next level."
- Pick your market, then study its demographics and similar businesses in the area. Ultimately, Lassiter says, you want to make sure your franchise can be "best in class" in your market.
- Test the waters. "Focus on that region to see if the market will accept your product," says Lassiter. Then you can use its regional flavor profile to test new products or make adjustments.