If you dream of being your own boss and starting your own business, then a franchise opportunity could be what you need in order to take your first step as an entrepreneur. Many of us want to manage their own clients and work around our own personal schedule, but find the idea of starting a new business from scratch intimidating.
A franchise is more likely to succeed than a business developed from scratch, but you need to make sure you’re buying into the real deal if you want to succeed long-term, particularly with professional services like bookkeeping, which requires ongoing support. If you’re considering one of the many bookkeeping franchise opportunities available online, then here are five questions you need to ask.
What systems are in place?
One of the great benefits of opening a franchise is that the groundwork will already be set up. If you buy into a franchise, you should get access to the software, invoicing programs and client management systems already in place. Ask the executive selling the franchise to outline the processes and programs they currently use. Do they use software that you are familiar with? Are you reasonably satisfied that they have systems in place to deal with challenges that may arise with clients and customers? Make sure you feel comfortably well-equipped to tackle any challenges that may come your way, and that you can understand and follow the system they have in place.
How strong is the support network?
If you’re just starting out, then chances are you’ll have a lot to learn, both as a business owner and a bookkeeper. One key benefit of a franchise is access to experienced managers who will mentor you and help you foster your own business development. Ask for more information about the support network for a franchise opportunity. You’ll need a lot of help, from setting up and developing the business, to tech support for software and programs you may be unfamiliar with, to recruiting and training your own team members. If you feel that you need a safety net, particularly in the early months and years of your business, then look out for a franchise that offers special support, such as a hotline or a live chat service, so help is always at your fingertips.
Will you have a guaranteed customer base?
No matter how famous the business, a franchise without customers is doomed to fail, and location is key. Some business will sell franchise opportunities in locations which are a poor fit for the business, or where there may already be another franchise in the area. Make sure the franchisor is very clear about the market for your franchise, with a defined market territory that includes a minimum customer base, or a similar guarantee that you will see business. Ask to see the research supporting any claims they make that you will gain a certain number of customers by operating in a particular location, and before you sign anything, read your contract very carefully to make sure that any such business guarantees are clearly stated in writing.