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The Franchise Experience

Advice from Franchisees Who Have Been There

Many of the franchisees we talked with had to make a decision first on whether they would open an independent business or a franchised one. A few of their stories follow.

Before a New Jersey man decided to buy a fast-food franchise, he asked himself this question: "How comfortable do I feel about going into the unknown?" He answered, "Not very." Although he was familiar with engi­neering, manufacturing and construction work, he knew very little about the food business. Even so, he purchased a snack foods business. Now, after nearly ten years of operation, he is ready to give up on the franchise. His current goal is to open and operate five independent stores that carry similar products. Not only has the ownership of the franchise system changed several times, but he believes that "the franchise system squashes the creativeness of the individual. You can be prohibited from bringing anything new into the system."

Barry Pasarew is a Voice-Tel franchisee in the high-tech voice message business. The business utilizes sophisticated equipment and elaborate service networks. Pasarew says, "It would be close to impossible to do this business on your own because of the necessity of a network. The fran­chise system allows you to get started immediately. It saves dollars and time so you can focus on selling and developing."

Jim Gendreau owns an independent distribution company, but he was still drawn to franchising. He owns multiple units of the Cost Cutters franchise in the hair salon business. When asked why he didn't start the business independently, especially since he was an experienced businessperson, he said, "The big difference between an independent and a franchise is the marketing and advertising clout and expertise the franchise brings. Sec­ondly, all the bugs are out of the system by the time you buy it."

Linda Moore, a Ledger Plus franchisee, considered both an independent and a franchise business after leaving a position in a large corporation. She says, "Unless you have a very unique business idea, it's almost foolish not to buy a franchise. Success rates are not as good for independents. Most people have skills in one or two areas, but with a franchise, you can get help in areas outside your expertise."

Ken Wisotzky had an independent ice cream store prior to owning a Gloria Jean's and a My Favorite Muffin. The ice cream business was going well, so why didn't he continue? Wisotzky says, "The mall developer wouldn't renew the lease on my store. They wanted a 'name-brand' tenant." Accord­ing to him, many developers, realtors and landlords consider franchises stronger tenants, and so the franchisee can get better space.

Bernie Wolff ran an independent photography studio in Florida before he took on two franchised units with Glamour Shots. Even though his day-to-day responsibilities have only changed slightly, he's happy he made the change. He says his old business had monthly sales from $16,000 to $18,000. When he switched to the Glamour Shots franchise in 1992, his monthly average for the first four months was $38,000 to $40,000. He attributes the increase to the impact of the franchise name.

When faced with making a decision on buying a mobile laundry and dry-cleaning franchise, Patrick McClune's wife and friends advised him to "do it himself." They told him, "You're smart and resourceful and you shouldn't pay for a logo that's not very well known." McClune asked the franchise system what he was getting that was proprietary. They said that he would receive training, the system for doing business and the logo. So, McClune went with the franchise and now concludes that the franchise did give him a "jump-start" and a good system for conducting business.

Home Helpers Earns Endorsed National Provider and Provider of Choice Honors

Home Helpers, the leading brand in in-home care, has been named an Endorsed National Provider and a Home Care Provider of Choice by Home Care Pulse. Home Care Pulse is the industry’s leading firm in satisfaction research and quality assurance, serving hundreds of home care businesses across North America.

SBA Loans - Still Available?

There’s been a lot of negative news these past few weeks related to business lending. You’ve probably heard there’s a credit freeze and you may think that means nobody’s lending. But Don Johnson, owner of Diamond Financial Services, New Jersey, says that’s a misconception. “Our company works with over 25 lenders so we really know what’s going on with the state of SBA and franchise lending. We’re prequalifying a little more carefully, but our success rate is still high. In the media it’s all doom and gloom, but loans are getting approved. You just have to know how to do it. Most people don’t know how to do projections or put together a loan package. Over 80% of loans get declined due to packages that aren’t complete or correct. And the rest is simply not going to the right type of lender. The money is out there, you just have to know where to go.”

The Franchisee & Franchisor’s Point of View

Many of the characteristics of the perfect franchisee are shared by both a franchisee and a franchisor, but there are also some slight differences. A franchisor is more concerned with how an individual franchisee will fit into their business as a whole, and not necessarily how the single franchise will operate on a day to day basis (although that’s still important to them). Meanwhile the franchisee cares almost exclusively about the success of that individual.