A regular line franchise consultants like myself throw out when discussing franchising is that “it’s not just flipping burgers.” Obviously, that’s a reference to the reigning king of the franchise, McDonald’s, because it’s most often what comes to candidates’ minds when talking about a franchise. Major brands like that have certainly played a significant role in turning the franchise industry into the powerhouse that it is today, but they aren’t doing it alone.
There are more than 3,000 franchise brands available and they are in almost every industry. Some are more well-known than others, but that doesn’t necessarily make them better. True, one of the bellwether selling points of a franchise is that it’s a recognized brand with a proven model of success. Established brands with longer track records can offer more proof of success and more recognition, but that doesn’t mean they are the right choice for everyone.
Emerging brands have their advantages. They are often less expensive, they have more available territories and the opportunity for growth is substantially higher. Further, they usually have smaller corporate structures and are more open to input from franchisees in terms of charting the course for the company’s future.
If you think an emerging brand may be right for you, here are some things to consider.
Are you someone willing to take on a bit more risk for the opportunity of greater reward? Emerging brands can experience terrific periods of growth that help the value of your franchise increase exponentially, but they can also stall if problems arise. Having a franchise consultant review the franchise disclosure document with you can help you decide which way the emerging brand is likely to go.
Is the brand likely to be universally accepted? Quite often, emerging brands will have only a few units running, so it may be difficult to validate the concept beyond a few stores that are bunched into a small area. Make sure the franchise model will be accepted whether the store is located in Portland, Oregon, or Poughkeepsie, New York.
Look carefully at the level of support offered. Does the franchisor offer detailed operational processes and manuals to help you along as you’re launching the business? What do the advertising and marketing materials look like? Do they seem professionally designed? Are campaigns well-conceived?
Think big! Emerging brands have lots of new frontiers they are ready to conquer, so instead of just looking at opening a single unit, consider developing an area. If you’re confident in the concept and the corporate office behind it, purchasing an area to develop will get you a discount on the franchise fees and ensure that a desirable market remains under your control. Owning a franchise empire allows you to keep your energy focused on your business, instead of just working in your business.
Buying into an emerging franchise can be an amazing experience, both educationally and financially. Just be sure to do your due diligence with a franchise consultant to make sure you’re a good fit for the brand and the brand is a good fit for you.