My Podner in this episode is Michael Peterson and he’s going to talk with us today about the mistakes that new franchisors typically make during their first year of operation. Some of these mistakes can be quite expensive, while others can lead to the death of your entire system. If you are a newly minted franchisor, or if you are about to start your journey, this is one that you won’t want to miss.
Michael Peterson Intro
Get to know Michael Peterson
Topic Segment – New Franchisor Pitfalls
Topics Discussed in this Episode
Key areas franchisors miss in their first year:
- Not getting the FDD to fully capture the business model. This leads to something so prevalent that I came up with a name for it; the 2nd year re-write. So many franchisors make massive changes to their second year FDD either because they didn’t capture the existing model in the first year, or they didn’t have someone walk them through the thought processes they should be going through on every item before they commit it to paper.
- Having “to be implemented” clauses in their agreements. The most common one I have seen here is a national ad fund, though I have seen tech fees quite a few times as well. When your franchisee #1 or #2 has been operating for 3 years, paying you your royalty only, and suddenly you decide your system is big enough to justify the advertising fund of 1-3%, believe me they will not be happy. Start taking this from day one, even if you turn around and spend it in their market.
- Cutting corners or coming in underfunded. This is probably the #1 cause of failure of young franchisors. Deciding to write an operations manual in-house, find the cheapest franchise attorney possible (or, worse yet, trying to do an FDD without a franchise attorney), not having quality marketing materials, not having funds set aside for franchise sales; these are so self-defeating.
- A bad operating manual can lead to system problems and even litigation.
- If you succeed as a franchisor you will end up using a good franchise attorney, if you start out with inexperienced or ineffective counsel, you’ll just pay in negotiation, litigation, or just headaches before you switch to better counsel.
- Your marketing materials are your first impression, you have to make them count.
- Franchise sales cost money, period. If you don’t have a good marketing budget you will struggle to grow. Think about this. Each year, you are going to spend between $6,000 and $25,000 on renewal, depending on how many registration states you go into and how complicated your audit is. I would guess the average is close to $12,000. If your lead generation spend results in one sale, then you have an extra $12,000 in costs for that sale. If you have a robust budget and someone solid handling franchise sales, and you award 3 franchisees, then the renewal is only adding $4,000 cost-per-close. Big difference.
- Hands down, the biggest mistake a franchisor can make is bringing in the wrong franchisee. If you have been doing all the ‘right’ things, spending money, having a professional franchise sales person either in-house or outsourced, reaching out to brokers to talk about your brand, and 6 or 12 or even 18 months in you don’t have a franchise sale, that can be frustrating. It also might happen; the first franchisees are the hardest to find (lets delve into that). I have seen this situation cause many franchisors to award a franchise to someone they shouldn’t and regret it for years to come.
- Not having a culture of compliance from day 1 is another seemly small issue that will come back to haunt you. If your FA calls for quarterly or annual financials from your franchisees, get them even if you don’t know what to do with them! If your franchisees have a required add spend, monitor it from day one. Or better yet, engage with them and help them spend it correctly, but either way make sure they are spending it. If there is a clause you are not enforcing from day one, throw it out.
- A problem many new franchisors think they wish they had; growing too fast. I have been in this position. I am talking about 4 stores open in January and 120 open that December fast! Trust me, you don’t want this kind of growth out of the gate.
- Compromising to get a deal. . . I put this one last because it very well may be something you need to do. As I mentioned, first franchisee is HARD! It may be may be reasonable, appropriate, or even necessary to ‘give’ on the first franchisee, maybe even on the first few. But be careful. If you are giving a bigger territory, are you really setting that franchisee up so that there is no chance of you putting someone into the same market and putting local brand awareness 100% on their shoulders? Are you offering a refund clause that you can’t really afford, from a capital cost of onboarding stance? Make sure your attorney is involved here and be careful. And again, don’t be afraid to say no and walk away.
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