On the 8th and 9th of March, the International Franchise Expo headed to Durban to promote entrepreneurship and small business expansion. Hosted by Ithala Development Finance Corporation and in line with their economic growth and job creation mandate, the exhibition focused on the potential of entrepreneurship and offered locals the opportunity to find out more about owning their own businesses.
Organised by the Franchise Association of South Africa (FASA), franchise companies with a special interest in expanding into Kwa-Zulu Natal were on hand to showcase their business and franchise offerings and to make contact with prospective franchisees. Free seminars were held with experts in business, franchising and funding giving valuable advice on getting into business.
The next steps to owning your own business
A big part of the success of franchising is in the win-win business partnership between the franchisor and its franchisees. FASA, whose mandate in presenting franchise expos is to educate the public on this business format, cannot emphasise enough the importance of understanding exactly what franchising is and how it operates. Many people have a vague idea that you simply acquire a franchise, open the doors and “bob’s your uncle” – you are now rich and wealthy.
Some of the tips that visitors took from this successful expo included:
- Read up as much as you can on franchising. Surf the internet for articles on franchising – read both the good that highlights the benefits and the bad where unethical operators are exposed and how the strained economy can affect all businesses, including franchises.
- Become familiar with the common terminology used in franchising – from what is the difference between a franchisor and a franchisee; to what is business format franchising and a turnkey operation. Understand that by investing in a franchise you are given the license to operate that business for a set amount of time and that you need to follow the franchisors’ business format.
- Ask yourself whether you fully understand what the implications are of signing a franchise contract that locks you in for five years or why you have to pay an upfront fee or ongoing management service fees.
- Make sure you are prepared to make that financial investment into the business and your future. Investigate all the financial options available to you – from qualifying for SME funding from government institutions to shopping around for the best financial package to suit your needs.
- Shortlist industries that really interest you, be realistic about your capabilities, establish investment levels and contact those franchisors who offer opportunities that not only appeal to you but are also within your target investment range.
- Investigate as many different franchises as possible, compare their support systems, training, administration and back-up. Meet the franchisor’s staff to see if you can relate to the people who run the franchise. As franchising is essentially a partnership, it is very important that you relate to your potential partners.
- Then ask yourself the million dollar question: “Can I see myself doing this day-in and day-out with enthusiasm for five, seven or even ten years? If the answer is yes, study the initial information packs and set up preliminary meetings.