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How Much Freedom Do Franchisees Have?

I'm interested in a few franchise businesses in the automotive industry but I'm having a hard time convincing myself that franchises are the way to go rather than opening my own business. What happens when I have better ideas than the franchisor? Am I able to have any sort of creative license with a franchise? What tips do you have for negotiating changes with franchisors?
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Freedom -- that's what America is all about. But sometimes the price of freedom is higher than what you really want to pay and that's the reason for the existence of business format franchises.

In a good franchise, you exchange the complete freedom to do whatever you think might be best for the regimentation of a system that makes your business success more secure. In a good franchise you are going to have a franchisor tell you exactly what to do and how to operate the business but what you'll get is a much lower chance that you'll become a business failure statistic.

This is especially true in the beginning of your operation. Most franchise systems are focused on getting a new franchisee up and operating successfully as soon as they possibly can. They are not interested in your thoughts and ideas at that point. They want you to execute their proven systems as well as you can.

Franchisors are much more likely to talk about innovating and incorporating some of your ideas after your business is established and profitable. Some of the best ideas for improving franchise systems come from successful existing operators. The key is to have patience in this regard and focus on first on guaranteeing that your survival is not at question before worrying about changing the system up.

Most innovation doesn't work, no matter how confident you are going in. Only buy a franchise with operating systems you feel comfortable executing as they are and you'll avoid some frustration while you build your business foundation.

Related: The 2011 Franchise 500
Related: Will I Make Money As a Franchisee?
Related: How I Did It: Three Franchisee Success Stories