Why Investing in a Franchise is the Right Balance of Risk and Safety
Andrew Simmons, Founder and Managing Director of Vision Personal Training explains why investing in a franchise is a great way to become your own boss and is substantially less risky than going it alone.
Choosing the right franchise
Buying into a franchise is a great option for those looking to change career paths, become their own boss or simply want to be part of a supportive network.
Firstly, when considering which franchise to buy into, make sure it’s in an industry you’re passionate about and that it’s the right company within that industry.
Investing in a franchise is not a decision that should be made lightly. I implore all those interested to really do your research on the company and its people. What do they stand for? Do you feel you share the same goals? Ensure you meet with them face to face to sense if you have a connection.
Find your own purpose
Once you have done your research, I recommend looking within and reflecting on your own personal goals and assessing whether or not they align with the company’s. Follow your moral compass and don’t get swept up in the trends.
Ultimately if you want a successful business, my advice is stick to understanding your own ‘why’ and follow it. When your work is linked to your life’s purpose you have the luxury of never working a day in your life. If you are thinking about undergoing change, ask yourself why the change is important. Will this change add value to your customer’s life, or is it self-serving? For example, if a potential franchise owner approaches me and tells me that they are tossing up between investing in either a Vision studio or a fast food franchise I immediately let them know that Vision will not be the best route for them. We are designed for individuals who are passionate about improving the lives of everyday Australians and reducing the prevalence of lifestyle diseases.
Analyse the framework
With 20 years of experience Vision have invested a lot of time and passion trialling and testing various business processes and procedures. The end result is a fine tuned business framework, available to all those who come on board as franchise owners. The investment we’ve ade into finding the best model for our industry and demographic would not be feasible for a studio operating outside of a franchise network. In order to operate a successful business, whether it be in a franchise system or otherwise, your processes and systems have to be premium. At Vision, our industry leading processes, all designed for specific purposes in the business, are readily available to franchise owners in the network.
Support from above
Franchises are appealing if you want the reduced risk of a proven model while still being your own boss. The success of Vision Personal Training rests on this idea. Successful franchise systems invest in policies and procedures to ensure their success. As a franchisee, you get access to those resources so you can seamlessly step in and run the business.
You also get access to support and inspiration from head office and fellow franchisees, group buying power, structured marketing campaigns and staff retention and satisfaction initiatives.
Looking to the future is a key part of any business plan. Your company’s brand positioning and reputation are made stronger by a solid franchise, which has a positive impact if you’re planning on exiting the business down the track.
The next steps
So what do you need to ask yourself before taking the next step? It’s all about goals, roles, investment and skills.
- In terms of your goals, have you got a clear idea of your purpose? Do you want to make money? Make a difference in the lives of those you serve? Spend more time at home or with family or become an entrepreneur?
- What role do you want to play in your business? Do you want to take a back seat and hire staff to manage the business? Do you want to adopt an owner/operator role and be directly involved in running the business?
- How much can you invest? Initial setup costs can vary greatly, from less than $20,000 to more than $1million depending on the business model. Your initial investment is hugely important, but so is considering your return on investment - not just financially, but also the investment of your energy and time.
- Do you have the required business skills? Having specific technical expertise in any industry is important, however having basic business knowledge, the right attitude and the dedication to succeed are equally important. Effective leadership and a passion for sales and marketing are critical success factors.
Once you’ve found your passion and investigated your skills, how do you choose the right franchise? Look for values, support, and success.
- Does the organisation share your values? Some franchises are all about money, others about the cause they serve. There’s no right or wrong answer, but shared purpose means a better fit, and more rewarding work.
- Does the organisation have strong support systems? You’re buying into a proven business model, so make sure there’s enough training on offer to ensure you can effectively implement the systems. Look for a good balance between face to face, online and telephone support and training. A great head office franchise should be genuinely interested in your success and encourage you to speak to existing franchisees. After all, some of your greatest learnings will come from those who are successfully running the system.
- Is there a focus on current franchisee success? Some franchise groups focus mainly on expansion. But the best franchise groups invest in growing the success of those already operating. Find out if your franchise group runs specialised programs for underperforming franchises and commits to existing store profitability as well as new store growth.
Last but definitely not least, take time to understand the Franchise Agreement and Disclosure Document.
This is essential when considering a franchise opportunity. All too often, new franchisees make the mistake of simply forwarding the documents to their solicitor for review, rather than taking the time to read and understand them. This can lead to conflict down the track if the expected standards of the franchisor aren’t met.
- Is there current or past litigation between the franchisor and its franchisees? This may highlight either a level of dissatisfaction with the system,or indicate that the franchisor is serious about maintaining standards within the system.
- Do you understand the fees? Fee structures should be clear and easy to read. Make sure you understand what’s required before committing.
- What’s the number of franchises opened, closed or terminated? The disclosure document should provide the contact details of current and former franchisees which will help you make a more informed decision about the opportunity.
The Vision difference
I learnt early on just how important it is to create opportunities for career growth in order to retain the right employees. It goes without saying that in a franchise network, employees have a lot more opportunities to grow their career.
In the case of Vision, many employees start out as a personal trainer, but when they are taken through the initial mentor program that we run in every studio, they are introduced to all available avenues and encouraged to think about where they want to be career-wise, in the short and long term. Personal trainers have the opportunity to progress to master trainers, studio managers, franchise owners, multiple franchise owners, as well as positions in the headquarters team such as Head of PT Operations, General Manager. Through every employee’s unique career path, we are there to direct them to and support them through the tertiary education and training required to take the next step.
The most valuable area of business Vision values and invests in above all else is its people. We know that if we didn’t have quality drivers behind the wheel, we wouldn’t get anywhere fast. Because we’ve always invested in our people our business growth is almost all together organic and has stemmed from word of mouth referral from those who either work in or are clients of the business. 24 studios out of the current 60, were established by PTs or their contacts, who worked at the original studio. Another benefit of being in a franchise network is being able to be a part of something bigger than an independently owned and operated store or studio couldn’t achieve on its own. For the franchisees in Vision, they’re proud to be part of a network that has transformed over 50,000 lives in the last 10 years, with our proven, scientific approach to weight loss. Claims like this are inspirational for employees and attractive to potential clients.
Franchises have the ability to create something unique when compared to competing bodies within the market. With the backing of our franchise owners, Vision has the capacity to constantly improve the processes in place to ensure we keep delivering.
To conclude, my key piece of advice is to take your time and do your research. Dig deep inside your mind, and ask yourself the important questions before you embark on what is likely to be one of the biggest, and hopefully, most rewarding projects in your life.
Andrew Simmons (B.Sp.Sc) is the Founder and Managing Director of Vision Personal Training. He is highly respected in the Health and Fitness Industry, being inducted into the Fitness Australia Roll of Honour in 2013.
The first Vision Personal Training studio was established in 2001. Vision is now the largest Australian owned franchised network of Personal Training studios with 58 locations in Australia and New Zealand.