Top 5 things that surprised me about franchising

Richard Blunden, CEO of Monkey Puzzle Day Nurseries Group, shares some surprising lessons from over 20 years of franchising
Richard Blunden
Monkey Puzzle stuffed characters

Franchising contributes £15 billion to the UK economy, and is one of the most popular and successful business models in existence. I've been in the franchising business for two decades, and now I'm involved in Monkey Puzzle, one of the largest franchisors in the industry. Here's what I've learned.

1. It has to be the right fit for you

Even if a brand is well-known and highly successful, it may still not be the right fit for you. You need to figure out your own values first and see whether they align with the brand’s mission. Consider the level of support you need too. Do you need ongoing support or just some initial training? Who’ll be your day-to-day point of contact? Finding out how supportive a franchisor is and who you’ll be working closely with is key to discovering the right fit. 

You can easily gain this information by meeting current franchisees and visiting their premises. This will give you a taste of what it’s like to run a franchise for this particular brand.

2. Relationships make or break your business

Of all the years I’ve worked in franchising, it’s the relationships I’ve built that have been the key to success. A strong relationship between franchisor and franchisee is about interdependency — you rely on each other equally and bring the same value to the franchise. This is why you should never only speak to your franchisor in an emergency. Instead, you should build up a strong relationship based on sharing the same values and mission. Your franchisor can introduce you to experts in the business, from accounts to solicitors — having access to such a talented group of individuals will only strengthen your successes.

The relationships you build with your employees are equally as important. After all, your team is the backbone of your business, so taking the time to hire people with the right values and forging a strong relationship will make all the difference.

3. The massive benefits of becoming part of a recognised brand

No, buying a franchise isn’t always more expensive than starting your own business. Whilst you do need to pay an initial fee to purchase a franchise, it’s a common misconception that it’s more expensive than going it alone. Consider it more of an investment that produces huge benefits. 

When you join a franchise network, you receive the immediate brand equity of the franchisor, which takes years to create from scratch. Customers will instantly recognise and trust your business, meaning growth comes much quicker. Talented employees will also want to work with such a recognised brand, meaning you can quickly build a great team.

You also receive support and expertise to help with marketing and growing your business. Access to this level of knowledge is priceless, especially if you’re new to running a business. This is why buying a franchise pays off much sooner than starting from square one.

4. You don't need to be an expert in every aspect of the company

You don’t have to know absolutely everything about a company before you open a franchise. Yes, you need to be business savvy and understand day-to-day operations, but it's okay if you’re not a financial or HR expert, for example. 

One of the key benefits of buying a franchise is the access you have to professionals who have been working for the brand for years. From operational assistance to career development, you have plenty of expertise within easy reach. This is why building those relationships is so important for the growth of both your franchise and the brand. You aren’t left alone and there are plenty of experts on hand to help you succeed.

5. You still need to put in the hard work!

Whilst running a franchise offers plenty of benefits and opportunities to learn from experts, the success of your franchise is down to you — you’re still running your own business and have independence over your franchise. So, you need to work hard to find the right team, build and maintain your reputation and make a success of your business. Growth takes time, even with the backing of a well-known brand — so make sure you’re ready to work and enjoy the ride!

Being a franchisee is a great way to be your own boss with the support of an established brand by your side. Applying these learnings to your business will help you grow into a successful business owner with a flourishing franchise.

About Richard Blunden

Richard Blunden has over 20 years’ experience in franchising, centred around the motor trade, working for some of the largest and most prestigious brands in the world at their UK head offices. Automotive is a valuable foundation stone in franchising experience as it is probably the most advanced franchise sector. Richard joined Monkey Puzzle, the largest franchisor in the industry, in 2019 to prepare the business for a period of significant growth and development. That built on the fantastic platform from the founders, Mark and Rebecca Crosby, who pioneered franchising in the early years sector.

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Richard Blunden
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March 1, 2023