By Karen Kelly, Cleanhome

Going into business is a daunting prospect for many people so an increasingly popular way of starting a business is to buy a franchise, but with so many options available, finding the right one for you can be overwhelming.

There are numerous franchise organisations in the UK so in order to identify the best franchise for you, you need to do your own research to enable you to make an informed decision. After all, investing in your own business is a commitment so it’s essential to ask the right questions to help make sure you find the right fit and giving you the best chance of success.

1. Is there a real ongoing need for the product or service?

To build any successful business, you need to make sure that there is actually a market for it. It sounds obvious, but for long-term success, you need to identify a product or service for which there is an ongoing and growing need.

This was one of the deciding factors when I chose to go into Domestic Cleaning Management. People are leading increasingly busy lives so the market is still growing, our clients require an ongoing service and there will always be a need for good value, high quality cleaning services.

2. Will the franchise play to your experience and strengths?

Look at where your skills lie and make sure you choose a franchise which complements them. There’s no point running a franchise where a lot of selling is involved if that’s not one of your strengths, so identify what you enjoy, what you’re good at and find a franchise that suits your skillset.

3. Is the franchise affordable and will it provide you with enough income?

When you invest in a franchise, you need to make sure that there will be a reasonable return on investment. As with any business, you get out what you put in, and without your effort the business will stagnate, but ensure you look at the figures in detail to make sure that you will be able to support yourself.

Go through the financial model and the potential franchise agreement with a fine toothcomb to find out what your contractual commitments would be.

4. Will you be happy to sell the product/service to customers?

To run your own business, you really need to believe in the product or service you’re selling. Are you confident that the specific franchise product or service that you’re offering is good and that it’s something potential clients will want? If you are, then you will be passionate about selling it.

5. Does the franchisor also run one of the franchisee areas? Did they build it themselves and therefore understand it from the inside out?

I built the very first Cleanhome business from scratch so I know from personal experience how it works and am able to identify with our franchisees and understand the issues they face. I will always run Cleanhome (Thames Valley) as it keeps my finger on the pulse of the market and gives me a vested interest in the continuing success and development of the business.

6. What technology does the franchisor offer in order to support their franchisees?

Harnessing and developing the latest technology is critical to running a thriving business and demonstrates how forward thinking your franchisor is. It is an indicator of how much and how quickly your franchisor can react and how adaptable they can be to any changes in the market. At Cleanhome we made technology an absolute priority and built our own system, GENESYS, which supports every part of the process of our business. Our operational system has been designed and built to the specific requirements of Cleanhome and it can be constantly updated with new features. As we designed and own the technology we are able to respond quickly to any development needs or requests from our franchisees. Seeing how your franchisor invests in technology is a good indication of how they support their franchisees.

7. Is the franchisor someone you respect and feel comfortable with and how will they support you?

The franchisor and franchisee relationship is a two way street, so it’s essential that you get on and are able to communicate openly and honestly. Your franchisor should be seen as your business partner and mentor and be as focused as you are on making your new franchise business a success. Make sure that this critical relationship is one in which you are comfortable that the Franchisor will give you the right training and support.

8. What do existing franchisees have to say?

It’s a good idea to speak to existing franchisees to find out how their businesses are going, what issues they have faced and how they’ve overcome them and what their experiences have been. This really gives you the opportunity to get under the skin of the business and learn about the reality of running the franchise.

Taking on any business is a challenge, but the more information you have, the more likely you are to make an informed decision and find the right franchise partner for you.