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Franchise vs. Independent Business? 12 Experts Weigh the Options Is franchising right for you? These industry pros discuss the proven benefits of joining an established brand instead of starting a concept from scratch.

By Clarissa Buch Zilberman Edited by Carl Stoffers

Key Takeaways

  • Navigating the entrepreneurial landscape, business enthusiasts often grapple with the choice between starting an independent business and opting for franchising.
  • A primary advantage of franchising is the comprehensive support system it provides.
  • Franchisees benefit from established training programs and continuous learning opportunities, essential for staying abreast of industry trends and practices.

When it comes to venturing into the world of entrepreneurship, aspiring business owners often find themselves at a crossroads: Should they embark on the journey of establishing an independent business from scratch or consider the path of franchising an existing brand instead?

Each option has its unique advantages and disadvantages, making the decision a pivotal one for any business owner. Franchising offers the allure of a proven business model, while independent businesses grant autonomy and creative control.

To shed light on this decision-making process, let's hear from industry experts and successful entrepreneurs who highlight why franchising may just be the right decision for you.

Related: Franchise Legalese Defined — A Deep Dive Into Franchising Definitions

Startup and ongoing support are paramount

"I believe the greatest resources we offer are the initial training and the continuing education opportunities to keep learning and growing. With a franchise, you're never starting from scratch. There's a business model with processes and procedures to follow," explains Jimmie Meece, Brand President at America's Swimming Pool Company.

Screenmobile's Brand President and Co-Founder, Scott Walker, agrees: "Franchises with a national footprint provide products, services and education to franchisees that an individual operator wouldn't have the expertise to offer. At Screenmobile, we teach franchisees about screening products and how to purchase, sell and install them. We don't expect new franchisees to have a ton of experience day one, which is why our 'Screen School' continues to be one of the biggest reasons entrepreneurs invest in us."

As the Chief Experience Officer of Hand & Stone Massage and Facial Spa and the President of the National Association of Spa Franchises, Cindy Meiskin believes internal support is a key to success. "Whether you are a first-time operator or a seasoned business owner, franchising with a spa allows you to receive the internal support to thrive."

Accelerated path to growth

"When joining our system, our franchisees not only reap the benefits of experienced marketers and leaders within each individual company, but they also gain the resources of the entire portfolio should they want to grow their business and diversify down the line. Being able to grow your business offerings within a portfolio is a huge benefit that entrepreneurs sometimes overlook," explains Chief Growth Officer of Authority Brands Heather McLeod.

Access to a proven business model

"While operating an independent business does allow business owners to have their own creative license, they will have to start from the ground up when it comes to building their brand's identity and credibility to consumers," says Katie Dills, Brand President of The Cleaning Authority.

Todd Houghton, President of Homewatch CareGivers, adds, "When choosing a franchise model, an entrepreneur should look for companies that offer advantages like established brand recognition, proven business models and continuous support."

Related: Your Ultimate Research Guide to the Crucial Steps Before Buying a Franchise

"The old saying about franchising is true," says Steve Jackson, the President and CEO of Hungry Howie's. "Be in business for yourself, not by yourself. You're able to buy into a proven concept with a system and follow a team of experts in the industry. This includes development support for all aspects of opening your location, including site selection, architecture plans and store layout and equipment selection."

Access to experts

"When you join a franchise, you have access to a variety of industry experts who are dedicated to continuously evaluating and enhancing the brand's systems and processes to ensure continued growth and achievement," says The Cleaning Authority's Katie Dills. "After all, the success of a franchise owner will always be the franchisor's number one priority."

Site selection assistance

"In today's competitive real estate environment, franchise owners benefit from having the support of a brand team that helps them make good site selection decisions. Smart franchisors are offering quality analytic tools, a high level of real estate resources and real estate executives that are knowledgeable about their brand and the industry in general," says Phil Russo, Vice President of Real Estate at Captain D's.

Invaluable tools and software

"A major benefit of franchising is the wealth of tools available from the franchisor to help run the business," says Larry Amos, President of DoodyCalls. "For instance, our DoodyCalls team created PoopNet, a proprietary system that integrates all aspects of the business, from customer interactions to billing and payments. It's more than just a web portal for our franchisees. It's a comprehensive platform that helps propel their growth in a more accessible way and makes their life — and the customer experience — much easier. An independent business owner who may not have access to this type of software can spend valuable time and money researching resources, trialing software and cobbling together different, expensive programs to meet every need."

Related: What Franchises Need From an Accountant

"[With a franchise], you're equipped with supply chain, legal, accounting and most imperatively, technology support," says Steve Jackson of Hungry Howie's.

Improved and tested marketing

"Franchise owners enjoy the best of both worlds when it comes to marketing benefits," says Sean Hart, Vice President of Franchise Development at Always Best Care. "They operate a small, local business yet can capitalize on the brand presence of a much larger company."

Economies of scale and negotiating power

Lance Sinclair, President of Benjamin Franklin Plumbing, One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning and Mister Sparky Electric, agrees. "Converting a business into a franchise is often driven by enhancing buying power. Buying in larger quantities allows us to negotiate better deals, establish relationships with reputable suppliers and offer competitive pricing. Not only does buying power impact equipment and material costs, but it extends into administrative areas like office supplies and health insurance. At the end of the day, lower costs and competitive pricing lead to healthier profit margins, contributing to the overall success and sustainability of the franchise."

Related: 23 Questions to Ask a Franchisor When You Meet Face to Face

Utilize a franchise network

Carlos Hesano, CEO and Co-Founder of DRYmedic Restoration Services, shares, "Working with a franchise allows franchisees to utilize a bigger network and team. The more locations and team members available, the greater the ability is to meet demand. Being part of a franchise with a broader network will help business owners reach a larger customer base, resulting in quickened response times and more potential revenue opportunities."

Clarissa Buch Zilberman

Entrepreneur Staff

Freelance Writer, Editor & Content Marketing Consultant

Clarissa Buch Zilberman is a writer and editor based in Miami. Specializing in lifestyle, business, and travel, her work has appeared in Food & Wine, Realtor.com, Travel + Leisure, and Bon Appétit, among other print and digital titles. Through her content marketing consultancy, By Clarissa, she leverages her extensive editorial background and unique industry insights to support enterprise organizations and global creative agencies with their B2B, B2C, and B2E content initiatives. 

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