Six Questions to Ask Before Buying a Franchise

Six Questions to Ask Before Buying a Franchise

Changing careers or starting a business is a major decision and it can sometimes feel like you’ll never have all the information you need to take the leap and launch your dream business. Have you asked all the questions you should? Do you know exactly what you’re getting into? Let’s be honest, there will always be a measure of uncertainty in launching a business venture. If there was zero risk, there would be no “reward.” If any franchisor tells you there is zero risk, run the other direction. The key is to know where the risk lies and know you have a plan to tackle it. There are many key questions you should ask a potential franchisor that can help you feel clearer about your plan for success. Here are six of them:

1. How Long Does It Take From The Time I Sign An Agreement Until I Can Start Generating Revenue?

Depending on the industry and the franchisor within the industry, this answer will vary. In the restaurant industry, for example, you may have to sign an agreement many months before the business actually opens. Will you need working capital during this time period? If you are starting an auto glass franchise, this time period should be shorter. NOVUS franchisees typically begin operations 4-6 weeks after signing a franchise agreement. This time is filled with training, operational preparation, and establishing relationships with suppliers and work providers. NOVUS has optimized this process so that it is much more efficient than attempting to start an auto glass business on your own—our existing relationships with suppliers and work providers help us do this.

2. What Is Your Franchisees’ Competitive Advantage In Their Local Market?

This is not the same as asking what the franchisor’s advantage is. Some franchise organizations may have advantages in selling franchises, but you want to know what advantages YOU will have once you’re competing in your market. For example, NOVUS franchisees have the advantage of starting a windshield repair franchise with the company who invented windshield repair. NOVUS franchisees have the ability to repair long cracks on windshields that almost no one else in the industry will attempt. NOVUS franchisees have the advantage of a 47 year brand that insurance companies, consumers, and fleet managers trust to represent excellence and safety in workmanship, materials, and warranty rather than rock bottom prices, materials, and quality. NOVUS franchisees have the advantage of being local small-business owners. In different ways, these advantages help NOVUS franchisees compete against large corporate auto glass businesses, small independent auto glass businesses, and other auto glass franchises. Make sure you understand what your franchisor provides that is going to help you compete in your local market.

3. How Much Of Your Training Is Hands-on?

Unfortunately, some franchisors hand you a DVD and give you a pat on the back. Other franchisors give you extensive classroom training, but no time actually doing the work. You want to be sure the training you receive prepares you to actually do the work—the management work, the sales work, and the actual service you might be providing. For example, NOVUS franchisees and their employees receive four weeks of training to operate their auto glass repair franchise. This training includes operations, management, sales, windshield repair, windshield replacement, and more. Over 75% of our training is hands-on, doing the work. You and your employees will be confident that you know how to operate an auto glass business after completing our training. Don’t purchase a franchise until you are sure you understand exactly how comprehensive the provided training will be.

4. Where Does The Business Come From In This Industry And How Do You Help Me With That?

Yes, we’re going to use the auto glass business example again. But the point is, if you don’t already know the industry you’re getting into inside and out, do you understand what the key markets are and how the franchisor helps you attack those markets? In the auto glass industry, business comes from insurance companies, fleet companies, and consumers. Selling your services to these three customers requires different tactics and skills. They each prioritize something different. Fortunately, NOVUS has the expertise to guide you through selling to these markets. Additionally, NOVUS provides marketing tools to target consumers, and has staff that develop national-level relationships with insurers and fleet companies. Before you buy a franchise, be sure you understand where the business is coming from and be clear on how the franchisor maximizes your ability to target those sources.

5. What Are The Ongoing Fees And Why Are They Worth Paying?

This question assumes you already know what the initial fees are. If the franchisor is being cagey about telling you the initial fees, take a step back and ask why. Beyond the initial spend, however, there are ongoing fees for being a part of a franchise network. Royalty fees are the obvious example. What percentage of your sales are you paying? Perhaps more importantly, what ongoing support are you getting for that royalty fee? NOVUS is very open about our 6% royalty rate and all the support we offer to help your windshield repair franchise thrive. Launch support is good. Growth support is better. Besides the royalty fee, are there other ongoing fees? Are there minimum product purchases to consider? Are there required purchases from third-party partners? Every franchisor is required to disclose these things to you. Make sure they’re not glossed over.

6. How Easy Is It To Expand This Business?

Is there a plan for growth? Can this business scale? Are you set at your current capacity until you purchase another franchise and more real estate? If you’re interested in building a business, not just buying a job, you should have a plan for your growth and expansion. An auto glass repair business can start with as little as one service vehicle. It can scale by adding additional service vehicles or by transitioning to a retail location. A retail location glass shop can scale by adding additional service vehicles instead of adding more real estate, and the expenses that come with that, before you’re ready. NOVUS regional managers provide you with the KPI data that will help you find the appropriate way to grow your business and the best time to do it. Before you purchase a franchise, make sure you have a plan to grow and that your franchisor knows how to help you accomplish it.

About NOVUS Glass

For over 47 years, NOVUS has remained the industry’s research & development leader in auto glass service. NOVUS has been awarded more U.S. Patents for windshield repair than any other company in the windshield repair industry. For more information on starting a NOVUS business please call 1-800-944-6811 or go to www.novusfranchising.com.

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