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Franchise Financing - Finding the Money

The cost of buying a franchise can be substantial, but you don't have to be a trust fund baby to get into the franchise of your dreams. Where is the funding going to come from? That's the number one question franchise buyers ask. There are numerous sources of capital, but start with these basic steps first.

  1. Talk to the franchisor. About one in three franchisors provide franchise financing directly or have arrangements with third party lenders. You will find any financing arrangements spelled out in Item 10 of the FDD (Franchise Disclosure Document). Even if the franchisor doesn't have money to offer, it is still the best source of information about your financing options.
  2. Look within. It is a common misconception that you can or should borrow all the money to open a franchise. Be prepared to come up with at least 25 to 30 percent of the total start-up costs. To assess personal resources, start by preparing a personal financial statement (you'll need one to present to lenders anyway).
  3. Ask family and friends. This is one of the most common ways to finance a franchise. After all, who knows your dreams and capabilities better? Plus, they want to help you succeed.
  4. Call your accountant. Ask your accountant to recommend a banker. A good accountant - one with small business experience - is usually a great source of leads.
  5. Find a specialist. You should start at the bank where you do your personal banking, but there's a good chance you won't get what you need there. Local banks are often unable to fund franchise projects. Your chances will be much better with independent lenders like GE Capital Franchise Finance that specialize in franchise lending.
  6. Search the SBA Franchise Registry (www.franchiseregistry.com). The SBA's small business lending guarantee program is a key source of loans. This program for new franchise buyers is much easier to access since the creation of the Franchise Registry, a central database of information about franchisors that have been certified by the SBA.

How Much Do You Have to Spend?

Whether you’re purchasing a whopper from Burger King or joining the Burger King franchise system, the old mantra holds true: there’s no such thing as a free lunch. When you first get started running a franchise you need to pay a fee to allow you to enter into that franchise. These fees are the largest fees that you will normally pay a franchisor and typically range between $5,000 and $1,000,000 depending on the franchise. The franchisor charges this fee as a way to recoup the costs of expanding the franchise and to continue to grow. From a franchisee perspective, this is a major outlay and can take a long time to make back, but is a necessary step. Aspiring business owners must understand how much capital is available to them so they can ascertain how much they can afford. The cash you have at your disposal is known as liquidity, and there are numerous ways to increase your liquidity above the balance in your bank account. As a result, many people don’t realize how much capital they actually can use for investments, like launching a franchise branch. We’ll run through some of those methods below.

Searching for the Best Franchises for Minorities

Many franchises incentivize minorities to join their systems. As president of the World Franchising Network Rob Bond puts it, these franchises "grease the skids" on behalf of minority candidates because they see value in promoting diversity among their franchisees. On account of a still-languid economy, however, many franchisors' approach has changed significantly in recent years. As Bond explains, “African Americans and Hispanics were being aggressively recruited five years ago to fill vacancies.” But today most franchisors are more concerned with trying to grease the skids for foreign investors with significant piles of investment capital.

Don't Write a Business Plan

I've started and successfully harvested businesses. I've taught entrepreneurship for almost 20 years. As a part of my teaching and research I've written books and texts on how to write a business plan. I've read almost a thousand of them. Now I believe franchise companies can think differently about business plans.