This is a guest blog post by Peter Grant, a franchisee of Minuteman Press.
2012 is almost over and across the globe, businesses are struggling. However, some business owners are getting more business than ever and it’s down to more than luck. Here are some tips to take on board if you’re thinking of taking on a franchise in 2013.
Are You a Business Person?
If you’re interested in taking on a franchise, the first step is to think about the kind of person you are and whether you’d be best suited to taking on your own business. Though franchising offers support, you will need to be highly motivated, good with people, and persistent in pushing through the hard times for your business — especially in financially difficult times. If you’re not afraid of making mistakes and picking yourself up again, a franchise could be very good for you.
Do Your Research
Make sure you are confident about the franchisor you want to go with. What interests you? Is there a market for the business you want to work in? Has the economy caused a new market in your area? If so, how can you tap into this new market? If you wanted to run a print franchise, for example, think about the day-to-day work you’ll be doing and the market you’ll be targeting.
What’s Your Business Plan?
With a franchise, you’re likely to get a lot of help writing your business plan and will get a lot more support than if you were going it alone. You still need a plan though, and it should cover a description of your business, the products you offer, how competitive your market is, and the risks that come with starting up your business.
Mention too who’ll manage your business, including a job description. Explain how you’ll attract new business and how your business will compete. Make sure you include information on the income you expect to have and how you’ll manage this income. Remember to set targets for the future, so that you’re constantly moving your business forward. Don’t be overzealous — it’s wiser to be conservative as a new business owner.
Know Your Customers
Whatever your product, nobody will buy it if they think they don’t need it. It’s your job to persuade the customer why they should use your service and what benefits you can give. Think about the benefits you can deliver over any other business in your field. Can you deliver for free? Can you offer a discount? Can you provide a wider range of services?
Think too about the demographic of the place you want to do business in. Do you live in a student town? Are there a lot of small businesses in your area? What materials or products do you think people there will need? What price brackets can you work within? It’s really important to be confident there is a market for you to go into.
Keep the Cash Flowing
Finding the money to start a franchise can be rather tricky. While it is cheaper to start a franchise business than a stand-alone start-up, you will have to make sure you have enough to see you through the early days.
Due to franchising being a relatively low-risk investment, a lot of banks are happy to lend on this basis, because your franchisor is likely to check you’re right for the ‘job’ of taking on their name, and working under their code of conduct.
To keep your cash flowing freely, make savings where you can. Make sure you know exactly what your expenses are and what your profit margins are too. Make it clear to your customers that they must pay promptly — you need the money to keep your business moving along and you shouldn’t make a habit out of chasing late payments. If you build trust with your clients and show you’re responsible with their data, they’re likely to return.
Marketing Your Business
With a franchise, you’re halfway there where marketing is concerned. Customers are already aware of the brand you’re working under and the reputation it has. All you have to do is persuade them why it’s your franchise they should be going to. Use carefully targeted advertisements — for example, using radio ads, online banner ads, and flyers, to reach people in the area you’re located. Make sure you give a personalized touch, emphasizing that your local knowledge makes all the difference. Don’t forget to ask your franchisor for help — they’ll be right behind you.
Running a franchise, you’re going to have access to your customers’ details, so it’s your responsibility to keep them safe. Make sure you train your staff to check your customers’ details thoroughly and consistently when they contact you, and include data-protection statements in your communication with customers, including emails.
Make sure that any advertisements you use always give the same information, especially pricing information.
Peter Grant is a franchisee at Minuteman Press International, a printing franchise operating throughout the US, Canada, UK, and Australia. Providing a wide variety of printing services, including full color printing, bindery services, promotional items, and graphic design and reproduction, Minuteman Press has been voted #1 within the printing industry for 2012 – their 20th time overall. Visit http://www.shop.minutemanpress.com for more information.