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What It's Really Like to Become a Franchisee: Expectations vs. Reality A recent survey in partnership with Franchise Business Review provides unfiltered perspectives from new franchisees, shedding light on the realities of starting and operating a franchise.

By Jason Feifer Edited by Carl Stoffers

Key Takeaways

  • This survey was conducted in partnership with Franchise Business Review.
  • The results are primarily from a survey of 232 new franchisees.
  • Also included are answers from Franchise Business Review's annual survey of 13,000+ new franchisees.

This story appears in the January 2024 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

To view our entire 2024 Franchise 500 list, including category rankings, click HERE

We wanted unvarnished opinions — and as you'll see on the following pages, we got them. This survey was conducted in partnership with Franchise Business Review, which produces reports for franchise buyers. The results you see are mostly from our survey of 232 new franchisees * (in business under five years), but also include a few answers from Franchise Business Review's annual survey of 13,109 new franchisees.

Related: Considering franchise ownership? Get started now to find your personalized list of franchises that match your lifestyle, interests and budget.

Image Credit: Nicolás Ortega

Did setting up your franchise cost (in time and money) about what you expected?

Do you plan to buy more units/territories?

Yes ⇒ 26%

Probably ⇒ 13%

Maybe ⇒ 32%

Probably Not ⇒ 12%

No ⇒ 17%

How many hours a week do you work?

How many units/territories do you own?

How did you find your franchise?

"I was just Googling business ideas."

"I'd heard the brand name my whole life."

"Ad on Instagram."

"Worked at one prior, was familiar with the system."

Do you enjoy operating your business?

How much business do you have right now?

We're too busy ⇒ 11%

We need more customers ⇒ 48%

We have what we want ⇒ 41%

Would you recommend your franchise brand to others?

Do you enjoy being part of your franchise organization?

Did you have any experience in your current industry before buying this franchise?

How's your business doing financially?

What was the main reason you chose your brand?

"It seemed like a fun opportunity."

"It clearly matched out goals and lifestyle"

"Pricing and repeat business."

"COVID closed my previous business."

Which is the bigger reason that you picked your specific franchise brand?

How much did you know about franchising before you started researching it?

Where were you working just before you bought your first franchise?

At a small business ⇒ 23%

At a medium-sized business ⇒ 11%

At a large business ⇒ 33%

I was self-employed ⇒ 24%

I wasn't working ⇒ 9%

How's the long-term growth opportunity for your business?

How often do you talk to other franchisees at your brand?

How is being a boss?

"Great, but being a leader is lonely."

"It's challenging—there's so much that goes unnoticed."

"It's awesome."

"I have a totally different respect for owners in general."

What Franchisees Love:

We Asked: What's your favorite part of being a franchisee?

"Knowing that I'm building a business, not just working a job" ν "The annual conference" ν "The relationships with customers" ν "Freedom to enjoy your hobby and earn a living doing it" ν "My team" ν "Me and my son own it and get to work together" ν "The ability to make my own decisions" ν "The chance to influence the culture of the company" ν "Providing the best work environment for my employees" ν "In my previous career, regardless of how good I was or how certified I may have been, there was only so much that I could have made. With this business, my hard work will determine my upper limit." ν "The camaraderie of the franchise owners systemwide" ν "The example I'm setting for my daughter" ν "Being my own boss, but still receiving all the coaching, training, and support I need" ν "I spent 20 years commuting 1.5 hours each day, and working countless nights and weekends. My business is now six minutes from my home, and I have much more flexibility."

What Franchisees Hate:

We Asked: What's the most annoying thing you have to do as a franchise owner?

"The spam calls and emails I get for business services" ν "Worrying about customers' insufficient funds" ν "Doing tasks for clients that they can do themselves" ν "Hiring and keeping a salesperson on track" ν "Year-end inventory" ν "Managing dumb people" ν "Searching for new leads" ν "Relying on other people to work with the same intensity I have" ν "Paperwork" ν "Taxes!" ν "Paying royalties, but I understand the reason" ν "Telling potential clients that we cannot help them" ν "Cold-calling to get new business" ν "Repeatedly answering the same questions from clients because they didn't read the information I sent them, which answers the exact questions they're asking" ν "Technology issues" ν "Wearing ALL the hats!" ν "When workers do not show up for work" ν "Chasing after businesses that don't pay" ν "Building a customer base in a market where the brand is not readily recognized" ν "Friends and family think I have magical ways of getting them 'deals.'"

What Franchisees Celebrate:

We Asked: What's the most satisfyingly challenging thing you do in your business?

"Selling is intimidating. But every time I get a new client it is immensely rewarding knowing that I accomplished something that scares me." ν "Providing clients with first-class customer service" ν "Building brand awareness" ν "Making the decision to scale up and hire someone so that we can grow the business" ν "Finding good people to work at my business and keeping them around" ν "Learning all the aspects of being a franchise owner, from operations to marketing to sales" ν "Getting people to believe in the vision and be a part of it!" ν "Playing both sides. I can cater to a dissatisfied client and listen and address their concerns without feeling like I have thrown my team under the bus." ν "Completing a project on time and on budget while exceeding my client's expectations" ν "Having to constantly drive business and consumers" ν "Setting up the store before shoppers come in and see how beautiful it looks" ν "Mentoring my associates" ν "Being organized"

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Jason Feifer

Entrepreneur Staff

Editor in Chief

Jason Feifer is the editor in chief of Entrepreneur magazine and host of the podcast Problem Solvers. Outside of Entrepreneur, he is the author of the book Build For Tomorrow, which helps readers find new opportunities in times of change, and co-hosts the podcast Help Wanted, where he helps solve listeners' work problems. He also writes a newsletter called One Thing Better, which each week gives you one better way to build a career or company you love.

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