Two big tips for people who want to open a franchise business: Love what you do, and work harder.
Those suggestions came from newly minted franchise owners who discussed their experiences with Wichita State University students on Thursday.
The speakers were Rachel Allen, who runs Mathnasium Learning Center, a math tutoring business; Garret Peterman, who opened Two Men and a Truck, a moving company; and Chris Gerhardt and Mathew McClure, who opened Title Boxing Club, a themed fitness club.
Some of the tips:
• Talk to other franchisees – a lot of them.
Find out their dos and don’ts, and how the franchisor performed; and talk to unsuccessful ones to see if there are red flags you should be looking for.
• Hire your own experts to review the agreement.
Gerhardt said the franchisor and franchisee have a lot of interests in common, but not always. The franchisor’s job is to get you to commit to the deal. The franchisee’s job is to make sure it’s the right fit.
• Have more money than you think you’ll need.
Even though the franchisor will likely give the franchisee a solid estimate on start-up costs, there could be additional expenses such as rapid expansion.
• Plan, plan, plan and then expect the unexpected.
• Their biggest challenge: managing people. Allen said she hires people who know calculus, and they’re often young. Some young adults, she said, have different expectations about work. One employee, she said, opted to write a school paper during down-time at work. “That’s not what I pay you for,” she said.
• Expect to work a lot, 70 or 80 hours a week at least during the startup.
• Understand there is a line between being friends and being an employer.
Gerhardt said he got interested in starting his fitness clubs because he loves kick boxing. He sold hard-core gear to gyms, but when the company started up the fitness centers aimed at the general public, he jumped at the chance.
“There’s a very small audience who don’t mind getting hit in the face,” he said. “There’s a larger one that doesn’t mind throwing those hits.”