Burning Questions

The Worst Part of Franchising, Smart Questions to Ask and More

QUESTION: What's the worst part about being a franchisee?

ANSWER: Most business owners are, by nature, independent people-they don't like to be told what to do. As a franchisee, I'm required to follow certain procedures. It can be difficult, because the franchisor and the franchisee have their own needs, and at times these needs seem to be in conflict. While we clearly understand we need each other, it's sometimes challenging to address issues such as reinvestment and new store development. -Higgins

ANSWER: Properly staffing the franchise, finding and training the right people to service the customers and keep the business running smoothly. Also, being the boss, having the "buck stop here," can be both frustrating and lonely. -Wein

QUESTION: Should you have started your own business instead of joining a franchise?

ANSWER: No. The franchise allowed us to be up and running faster and more effectively earlier than if we had gone on our own. The beauty of any franchise is that others have made mistakes and have learned from them; in turn, you have the benefit of their lessons. -Murray

ANSWER: No. I started my own independent business seven years before. Even though that business was a success, I like having a structure I can call on for advice and expertise. -Turner

QUESTION: What's the one question someone should ask when looking for a franchise?

ANSWER: What relationship do the franchisees have with the franchisor?

ANSWER: How well does this business fit my personality? -Wein

ANSWER: Is the way this company does business consistent with my values, work ethic and business approach? -Murray

ANSWER: What's my competition? -Turner

QUESTION: What's the one question you didn't ask but wish you had?

ANSWER: How important is location and visibility to my success? I ended up relocating my store after four years in business to the opposite end of my shopping center-a costly but very worthwhile move. -Wein

ANSWER: How do I deal with buying an existing location from another franchisee? I wish I would have been able to anticipate how the customers would feel about the transition, how to handle the staff and how to incorporate new policies. -Ellifritis

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This article was originally published in the January 2002 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Burning Questions.

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