ONE OF THE attractions of being part of a franchise is that you’re running a business for yourself – but not by yourself.
You’re working with a proven model and you have access to a wealth of knowledge and best-practice advice.
While there are a lot of benefits, the franchise model is not for everyone and you need to clearly consider your expectations before you decide to go down this route.
Not everything ports over
Prior to getting involved in Right at Home, I ran an IT services business for about 10 years. I was looking for the next step in my career, so when the opportunity came up to sell my company, I took it.
At that point I had already been researching home care concepts in the US for elderly and sick people. I went over there and met various companies before deciding on Right at Home, and I was awarded the master franchise at the tail-end of 2012.
After proof of concept, we awarded our first franchisee in 2016 with the opening of Right at Home Galway. We currently have a new franchise opening in Cork and expect to open another two this year.
The first thing I learned when we were launching the pilot office was that not everything ports over seamlessly when you’re working with a US model.
My team needed to localise the concept. That meant we had to alter some of the marketing material that was coming from the States.
We had to change the imagery and tweak some of the language so it appealed to an Irish audience. Since we’re in the healthcare sector, we had to modify parts of the US concept so that it met the requirements of the HSE.
That’s something worth bearing in mind if you’re going to be the master licence holder of an overseas franchise. You’ll have to factor in the time it takes to develop out the model where needed.
Do your homework
It’s important to remember with any franchise system that it’s like a partnership.
You’re going to be working with the franchisor for a very long time, so you have to put a lot of time into the research phase when you’re scoping out a suitable business. You have to feel comfortable working with them.
If you’re looking to become the master franchisee, I’d recommend that you look at the company’s international experience. If it’s a US model, for example, are there franchises operating in other countries? Are they successful?
Our franchise development process is very transparent, and this is what you should expect.
It’s what we call a ‘franchise discovery process’, where both ourselves and the franchisee candidate learn about each other and the business model, and we orientate the candidate around what the franchise relationship can require.
This enables both parties to make an informed decision if it is a fit or not. We also make it known early on our requirement for capital, which is in the region of €150,000.
We discuss both the potential in the business and challenges you might face. We’d stress that you need to prove that you’re committed to the business and an excellent fit.
We place a strong focus on highest standard of care and community links so franchises must be aligned to that. Our business thrives on growing a network of quality franchisees so we’re very thorough in our process. The discovery phase alone can take about three months.
Make sure it’s for you
The key to being a successful franchisee is that you have a winning, team mentality. You need to be comfortable working within a network. Otherwise, it might not be for you.
You’re not buying a job, you’re buying the rights to operate a business, so just like the beginning of any young firm, it’s a big commitment.
You’re responsible for operating to a defined business model and protecting a brand, so you need to adhere to a set of standards and procedures.
If you’re okay with that, you can let your entrepreneurial flair flourish under a franchise – but with the added benefit of that knowledge base that you can tap into the wider knowledge and experience of the franchise network.
David McKone is managing director of Right at Home Ireland. This article was written in conversation with Conor McMahon as part of a series of masterclasses with some of Ireland’s most influential business people.
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