When making the leap to go into business for yourself and ditch the traditional 9-5 work day there can be a lot to consider. After all you are now solely responsible for your own success and more than likely the success of those you employ. So is buying a franchise the right decision? For Joanne Brierley, Franchise Owner of Zarraffa’s Cairns Showgrounds and Edmonton, it’s been one of her best
“Getting involved in a franchise model with Zarraffa’s sort of came out of the blue for me and it all happened quite quickly. I was on maternity leave when a friend contacted me and said they were looking for someone to open a new location in Cairns.”
That was five years ago and at the time Jo was already a busy mother of a five year old and one year old twins.
“Life was hectic but I knew deep down that if I went back to my government job I would stay there. I was definitely in my comfort zone and this was just the challenge I needed to move me out of it.”
For many, including Jo and her husband Paul, a franchise investment offers the benefit of an established business model, along with training, guidance and support.
“The biggest perk for me has definitely been the support network. I get regular visits from head office during which they coach me in business and help make sure I am progressing in a positive way. In addition there is a very strong network of other franchisees who offer support in their areas of expertise.”
The success of many franchises is the formula on which they operate. Often there is a very strict set of guidelines the franchisees are expected to adhere, to ensure brand integrity.
“When we entered into our franchise agreement it was made very clear to us that we were expected to follow the ‘rules’ as such. For me it has never been a problem because I didn’t have any small business experience and I was happy to follow a successful model and emulate it in our stores.”
For most, the list of agreed franchise rules provides a proven business model. Most franchisees can avoid the mistakes start up entrepreneurs make because the franchisor has already perfected daily operations through trial and error.
“If you are looking at getting into a small business and you have no previous experience a franchise gives you the opportunity to start a business with professional guidance on how to make it successful. The franchising company look at everything from what you should be spending on your wages to what is normal in the business operation side of things and what isn’t because you don’t always know all of that.”
Adhering to the expected guidelines doesn’t mean that you can’t have creative contribution into your business though. “There are a lot of opportunities to have input into the business. We have a Head Office representative who does an in-store visit once a month so any ideas we have we put to the Operations team. We also have another model where there are a group of franchisees who work in different areas of the business and we are encouraged to submit ideas to them. Once those ideas have been assessed for their commercial viability they are passed onto our corporate division and from there they are trialled in store. You really can see your ideas and feedback come to life,” says Jo.
In addition to operational compliance, potential owners need to have start-up capital as there are a number of costs associated with a franchise.
“Franchises can expensive. Franchisees pay for all the fit out including location costs, furniture, machinery etc. At the end of the day it is a financial risk for the owners so it’s in their best interest to create a successful business. The costs and quality of franchises vary greatly depending on what type of business you buy in to.”
Franchisees do benefit from strength in numbers though, often enjoying large buy-in power on materials, supplies and services such as marketing as well as on negotiating for locations and lease terms.
“We realise in our instance that we have been very fortunate because of the amount of communication, support and in-store visits we receive in return for our initial investment. I have no doubt that is what has helped us create such a successful business.”
While this all sounds very promising, franchise models aren’t for everyone. “If you are someone who is passionate about your particular point of view then perhaps a franchise isn’t for you. It is important that you are a team player and work to create overall brand success instead of going off on your own tangent. If that’s what you’d prefer I would encourage you to consider individual enterprise.
“The only way to really know for sure is to do your due diligence. Make sure you speak with other franchisees and ask lots of questions to get a realistic view of what you are in for.”
For Jo and her family the decision to join Zarraffa’s over five years ago has provided a life they didn’t intend on. “Becoming a franchisee has been great! It’s been an awful lot of hard work along the way, but it has provided a flexible lifestyle for me to enjoy my children more.
Regardless of your motivation for wanting to become a franchisee Jo suggests that thorough research and hard work will pay dividends in the end