Are you buying a business or a brand? – Sally Anne Butters writes for Making Money Magazine, January 2012

A brand is so much more than just a name and logo, for many people it’s a personality, a feeling that they get whenever they come across, purchase or interact with that company, product or service. That is why a strong brand is essential for anyone buying a franchise; any new business is a risk but the comfort of knowing what you are really getting into will set aside some of those start-up nerves.

Ask your Franchisor about how they manage their brand; all franchise opportunities should have brand guidelines to help with promotional literature, point of sale displays and so on but it is important that there is at least one person at head office assigned as a Brand Guardian.

In the best businesses, you can go to any branch of the company and get the same positive experience and this is where the brand buy-in is so strong that there isn’t just one Brand Guardian but every single member of staff takes on this role. This is so comforting to a prospective franchisee that it can prompt a decision to purchase and David Baker who purchased Driver Hire Kingston couldn’t agree more:

“Driver Hire seemed to be a rock steady brand and a well-established big business and that really gave me confidence. I also liked the idea of buying a business that was already up and running and part of network of around 100 offices. Everyone in the head office team was really enthusiastic and from this point on, Driver Hire were the only franchise in the running.”

Franchising gives companies the option to build their brand on a global level. Franchises such as The Athena Network, Cafe2U and FASTSIGNS are all global leaders in their marketplace. The Athena Network launched in Singapore this year after a strong few years in the UK whilst Cafe2U’s successful 10 years in Australia and 5 years in the UK prompted a launch in the USA this Summer as Australia’s Cafe2U MD, Derek Black explains:

“Consumers have been very welcoming of the mobile Cafe2U concept with one of our new American customers quoting: It’s even better than Starbucks!”

There is no doubt that Starbucks is a hugely successful and recognisable brand across the globe so how does a mobile coffee franchise like Cafe2U compete? They set themselves apart and make themselves memorable with brand differentiators – new locations, barista qualities, and an airhorn on their van playing the tune from the Godfather!

So what should you be looking for in a franchise when it comes to buying a brand that is well-established and support you to success or a younger franchise that has the potential to develop into a strong brand?

No.1 on your list is that you must be able to 100% agree with and emanate the company’s brand and ethos and the best way that you can get a feel for this is to spend some time with other franchisees and the head office team; a great way to do this is on a discovery day if the franchisor offers these.

Brands are also built on trust and just as a business’s customers need to trust them, so must someone buying a franchise. Trust fosters loyalty and a franchisor should always be open, communicative and ready to provide the information you require; being transparent starts off a strong relationship and will bring the right franchisees into the business which means you get off to the best start with your franchise and your franchisor.

In general, consumers value brands more than they are influenced by price because of the trust they have in the quality or standard of service so you should consider what is offered by the franchise opportunities that you are looking at in terms of their products and/or services. You can easily find out what their consumers think by searching online for Facebook pages, conversations on blogs or on trade websites.

Consumers are risk-averse and, of course, franchise searchers are too! Consumers will look for recommendations from friends, work colleagues or even strangers online before engaging with a new brand and you should do the same when researching a franchise purchase. There are also experts such as MatchPoint who can help match you to a franchise brand that most suits your skills and attributes if you want a free helping hand.

Finally, it is really important that you choose a brand that is ready to innovate as the marketplace changes and new technology comes along. Not all franchises will suit internet sales but all will benefit from an online presence for communicating with potential customers. Some will naturally have new product lines constantly in development like Mac Tools and others will have occasional updates as new design software makes work processes easier like the printing process at a FASTSIGNS franchise. What is imperative is that a franchisor can demonstrate to you that they have the flexibility to adapt and the skills to innovate to keep the business fresh, the turnover growing and the brand strong.


Start Preparing NOW for a successful 2012 – Sarah Carlile writes for Making Money Magazine, October 2011

Sarah Carlile, Founding Partner of Coconut Creatives, the only marketing company to be accredited by the bfa offers her advice on preparing for a successful and sustainable 2012.

Whether you are looking to start a business or buy a franchise, now is a really good time of year to ask yourself some questions. What will be the best industry to be in, in 2012 onwards? How will the changes in Government affect me? What franchises are growing and providing profitable sustainable business opportunities.  In the UK there are around eight hundred franchisors both from inside and outside the British Franchise Association, all looking to recruit the best candidates for their franchise network. Could that be you?

October through to April is the most important time of year to focus on business development. The kids are at school, the summer holidays are over with and Christmas provides an ideal opportunity for reflection on the previous year’s accomplishments. As we approach Christmas many people start to re-evaluate their life choices and a big part of this is their career. We are all familiar with cyclical national headlines such as ‘new year new career’ but how you maximise your chances to capitalise on business opportunities will depend on a number of factors:

It is all about timing. Being in the right place, at the right time and meeting the right franchisors for you. Here’s what you can do:

  1. Review online profile’s for franchisors: it is really important that you can access current information including availability of territories, current prices, quotes and case studies. You can spend time comparing information you find on different website against information on 3rd party websites. If you find conflicting information on different recruitment websites, the franchisor could be unprofessional or just not keep their communications up to date and this can give you an indication of how they might treat you if you bought into the business.
  2. Case studies are really useful to you to build a picture of the types of people that have already bought into the franchise. Many franchisors like the van based franchise, Cafe2U will offer video case studies which are very useful in understanding what you might do on a daily basis. The reality is that if they invest in video and better communications, they are likely to be investing more in you when you join. You can gain a huge amount of confidence by reviewing case studies and if you can’t find any that are publicly available, call the franchisor and request some.
  3. Social Media sites like LinkedIn can be very useful to gain an insight into the business community that you are interested in. Whether you choose a business or a franchise, ensure you join LinkedIn and sign up for some of the special interest groups. See how they communicate with each other and what discussion topics are brought up.
  4. Consider ALL your options including who the client/ customer will be. Is the market growing? Do you see it growing through 2012? Undertaking due diligence into the market sector, general growth statistics online can give you a good indication of whether your chosen sector and business will work for you.
  5. Read around the subject: Magazines such as this one and newspapers will have a number of features on business opportunities. These are great for you to review and to gather information on specific individual businesses and also sectors that you could be well suited to.
  6. Make sure you reach a decision! Ensure you do set yourself a deadline for making a decision about your next career or business move. It is easy to get stuck in ‘analysis paralysis’ and spend so much time deciding what to do, that you never actually get on and do it! Make sure you evaluate all your options and make an informed decision on moving ahead. Gut instinct is usually right, so let this also guide you.
  7. Relationships are key: No matter how good a franchise opportunity, you need to make sure you get on with the franchisor you will be working with. Relationships are key for your ongoing business development, especially where training takes place.

Overall consider whether a business or a franchise is right for you. Franchises can often be seen as the more expensive choice but the reality is often that the money you invest will save you time and money later on by avoiding common mistakes.