I looked at a franchise website’s homepage today, and found that they were all gushy about being listed on the “Franchise Times” Fast 55, so I checked that list out. It even looks like the make a plaque (see photo.)
This list, published by the Franchise Times, lists franchises based on their rate of growth and without regard for the type, size, investment or length of agreement. So, home based franchises such as in the case of Weathersby Guild, is strictly by single-person, work-from home franchisees doing highly skilled labor on site. Just to get a sense of scale for the business, I did a little bit of poking around using a few reverse phone lookups and windows live.local.com which showed me that almost all of the Weathersby folks work from home, often from apartments. There is nothing wrong with that, but consider that Mobile Attic is listed next to them in the list – naturally requiring a vastly larger capital investment (30 containers must be ordered,) a rollback truck, 1-4 acres, and a twenty year agreement. These two franchises are not even the same species. To grow Weathersby by 100%, you find some people ready to be trained in their system and equip them for the work. To do the same for Mobile Attic, you need earthmovers and a steel mill.
Entrepreneurs should try to realize that if the franchise you’re interested are not advertising in these magazines, they may actually be a lot smarter than you think – and any franchises that prominently boasts themselves in such lists could be a tad desperate for market coverage. Look for substance in the press releases. Know which magazines matter, and which are make-believe!
If you’re buying a franchise…Go visit, in person, the franchises you’re considering. I would not let the corporation call ahead – I would just GO. Talk to the owners (not the possibly underpaid staff.) Then…because some franchisees are just plain-old-grumps… go to another town, talk to those owners. And do it until you get a feeling for the company, and whether it’s compatible with your own goals (which you’ve written down, right?) Ask them if you can work for them, for free, for a couple of days.
Spend the time and you’ll not be sorry, especially with $80-100k on the line.
Postscript: While writing this I came across this little jewel of absurdity
“The first and biggest factor is finding a franchise doing something you love! If you love to cook, find a restaurant. If you like to clean up, select a carpet cleaning or maid service. Do not assume that just because you own the franchise that you won’t have to work it, you will have lots of times where an employee won’t show up and you will be doing their job. Doing something you love will make the hard work and long hours bearable!”
No… what makes a business bearable is to design yourself OUT of it. Choose a franchise where you can be profitable and expendable. You should not be required at the location much, if at all. The system should allow you the freedom to live your life the way you want it, not work “long bearable hours.”