This is a guest blog post by Melanie Bergeron, Chair, TWO MEN AND A TRUCK®.
My first venture into the franchise world was in 1989 when I began running the TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® franchise in Atlanta, GA. In the mid-1990s, I sold my franchise and moved back to Michigan to work in the home office, but those years of running my own TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® branch gave me valuable insight into the challenges and rewards that franchisees face.
Over the course of my career, I have been fortunate to serve as a mentor, counselor, and general sounding board for hundreds of franchisees — those within our TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® system as well as other franchise companies. Almost always, the question of growth and expansion comes up. When is the right time to add employees, invest in the business, purchase a second or third location, etc.?
While there are many hills and valleys on the road to success for a franchise owner, if you’ve seen success with your current model, then odds are in your favor of it happening again. TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® provides excellent training and support to all of our franchise owners to grow their business, but there are a few things to keep in mind before potentially upsetting the apple cart.
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Points to consider:
1. Timing is Everything – Adding locations is a big step, certainly, and the timing of that move may have more do to with your success than anything. Is your current franchise profitable? Is real estate currently more, or less, expensive than the average for your area? How will you go about finding quality employees in an area you might not be as familiar with? Are you financially able to take on the risk of a second location? If you answered “No” to any of these, you don’t have to scrap the idea altogether, but you may want to rethink your timetable.
2. Project profitability carefully – The phone at your current location might be ringing off the hook, but keep in mind that a new franchise — particularly in a new market — most often won’t be as profitable as your established store out of the gates. Manage your own expectations and set goals for modest growth. As long as you are growing — even fractions of a percent — you are headed in the right direction!
3. Location/territory – There is a delicate balance that an owner needs to find when investing in a second franchise location. You want your locations to be close enough to manage both successfully, but you don’t want your territories to overlap and cannibalize either customer base. The distance can often depend on the population density of your area. If you’re in a rural area, you may need 20+ miles between locations, but an urban area might only require a couple blocks between the two. Make sure you’ve done your research on the needs of your area.
4. New vs. Buyout – Will you be opening a brand new location, or will you be taking over the franchise from someone else? Each has its own unique challenges. You most likely already know what it takes to open a successful new branch, but you should keep in mind that taking over for someone else can have different challenges. What is the reputation of the former franchise? How does the staff interact with each other? What do they expect from their boss? What challenges and successes have they already experienced?
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5. Employees/Leadership – On the subject of employees, it can be wise to transfer one of your current employees – a trusted leader – to the new franchise to help get it off the ground. Obviously, this leaves a hole in your established staff. This can be viewed as a possible shortcoming, but we see it as an opportunity for the next generation of leaders among your staff. Encourage these future leaders to see it this way too and everyone wins.
6. The total cost – There is more cost to consider than just the financial aspects of opening a second location. Will you manage both? If so, do you have the time? Is your family supportive of the additional long hours that two locations will require from you? Will the additional workload take away from the quality of life you currently enjoy, or will it motivate you to greater success? Try to look beyond the income statement to understand the entire “cost” picture before deciding whether multi-unit franchising is for you.
These suggestions are certainly not meant to discourage growth. The opposite is true! We always encourage our TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® franchisees to explore what the multi-unit experience is about, but we always counsel to pause long enough to consider all the variables before making the leap to multi-unit franchisee.
It’s your move.
TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® is the largest franchised moving company in North America. It includes 224 locations and more than 1,400 trucks on the road. Each location is independently owned and operated and sells boxes and packing supplies. For more information, visit www.twomenandatruck.com.