What Experience Do You Have?
You will have a major advantage if you already have experience of running, or working within, a successful business; or in sales and marketing; or in lecturing in business studies and marketing; or in business or marketing consulting.
Having the right kind of business experience, expertise, and knowledge already, puts you in a strong position to enjoy early success as a business consultant working within the legal framework of your franchise agreement, and the support structure available within the organization. You have all that expertise already, but now you also have the trusted brand behind you, a collection of marketing and analytical tools, and ongoing training resources and support for when you need it.
If you don't have the appropriate experience, all is not lost. You can attend various business and marketing courses at community colleges and universities, and online courses are also now available to you. A good franchisor should also be providing a comprehensive training course when you first invest in the franchise, along with ongoing professional development, so if you have a strong desire to become a business consultant then you can still do so. Just take into account the time it will take for you to acquire the appropriate expertise to get started successfully.
What You Need To Run Your Consultancy Business
You will need premises, but a room in your home will be suitable, or you can rent a small office somewhere. You can even use the services of an online virtual office (internet based) if you do not need to meet clients on your own premises. Normally, you will be meeting clients where their own business is located.
You need internet access, maybe your own web site, you need a telephone, computer and printing equipment, stationery supplies including letterheads and business cards, travelling expenses, maybe a car, marketing materials and resources, and possibly personal and professional training in addition to what your franchise company supplies.
All in all, your expenditure can be kept to a minimum, and is nothing like what would be required to operate a normal business.
The Cost of Your Consultant Franchise
Your big financial consideration, of course, is the franchise fee. Just like starting any kind of business you will have a relatively high up front capital investment. You won't, however, have to pay for expensive premises, equipment, manufacturing, stock, and staffing.
Instead, you are paying a franchise fee to buy into the franchise, with all the benefits that brings to you. Franchise fees vary greatly so you need to do a lot of research to compare what you get for your money. Like anything, you get what you pay for. What seems like a good deal might prove a disastrous investment if you don't receive the support and resources you expect, or if there is not enough business available for you, or there is too much competition.
Many banks are happy to lend money for a franchise business they approve of, provided you satisfy their credit rating requirements, so if you don't have the capital needed to invest in a really good business consultancy franchise, this can be the way for you to go.
What You Need to Check Before Investing in a Consulting Franchise
* Speak to some business consultants for advice
Ask one or two franchise consultants to recommend a reputable business consultancy franchise in your country.
* Do your market research
What kind of businesses will you be expected to consult with? How many such businesses are in your area? What competition can you expect from other business consultants in your region? What prospects are there for future growth? If your franchise agreement does not restrict you to a specific area then you have the advantage of consulting with businesses in other areas.
You need to be satisfied that you will have access to plenty of business consulting opportunities and that the potential market for you is extensive enough to keep you in business for a long time.
* Speak to some current franchisees
Speak to some current franchise owners already working with the business to find out first hand what their own experiences are. You are trying to find out if the amount of work required, the running expenses, and the income being earned, matches up with what the franchise company is promising you. The head office staff will always paint a rosy picture but this may be very different to what consultants in the field are finding.
Of course, if you are considering a newly launched franchise operation, then you will be unable to speak with active consultants because there won't be any! There lies a big advantage, possibly, if you are one of the first to purchase a franchise and help get the business launched. There may well be a discount on the franchise fee during the initial launch period.
* Read the prospectus and franchise agreement several times
You need to read very carefully all these documents to get a complete understanding of every aspect of the business. You need to know all your rights and responsibilities, what you can and cannot do.
It is highly advisable to ask a fully qualified franchise lawyer to check the franchise agreement which is a legal document. It is no good asking a general lawyer because he will not understand many of the terms of the contract. You MUST go to a lawyer who specializes in franchise agreements because he can properly advise you. It's worth spending a little money at this stage to check there is nothing in the agreement that could cause you a big problem later on, after you have invested a lot of money in purchasing the franchise.
* Find out all the ongoing costs before you invest
You will know the initial investment required to purchase the franchise. You must also find out what other costs are involved, apart from the normal day-to-day running costs.
There is normally a monthly charge payable to the franchisor (the franchise company) that pays for the ongoing support and backup. This will be either a flat fee, or a percentage of your profits. There is usually, also, a fee to be paid to renew your franchise every few years or so, and this will vary according to the type of consultancy.
* Investigate the level of income you can expect
The Company should be able to provide you with income projections based on different levels of commitment on your part. No level of income can be guaranteed, of course, because there are so many variables, but you should be given spreadsheets with examples of what you can expect to earn based on certain conditions.
* Will you be provided with operating manuals and other essential resources?
How much information and guidance will you be given to help you run your consultancy business? The whole purpose of a franchise business is it provides you with a proven system to follow, and if you follow the system, then you should be successful. So how detailed is the system you will be following, and do you feel confident you can do so?
* What kind of training and support can you expect?
You are paying a substantial sum of money for your franchise. Find out as much as you can about the training you will be given when you start, and about the ongoing training and support you can expect. Speak with the management team, meet them if you can. Are they people you can work with? Are they approachable and supportive? Do you trust them? You will be part of a team so make sure it is a team you want to be part of!