Saturday, March 21, 2009

Creating Your Own Franchise

Picture this: a terrier, smartly dressed in a red bandanna; a German shepherd wearing a police badge; and a springer spaniel, lovingly held by its owner. These are some of the clients Bill and Peggy Cain snap in their Bow, New Hampshire, portrait studio.

When Bill started his photography business 12 years ago, he noticed many customers wanted their pets included in family portraits. That gave him the idea for Dog Gone Portraits, a portrait studio for man's best friend and other critters. The Cains' studio averages some 1,000 sittings each year.

The Cains have just begun franchising their concept. Start-up costs of $22,400 to $36,000 cover the $15,000 franchise fee, equipment and training. The Cains run their studio from home, and franchisees can do the same by working with pet stores and pet-related associations that sponsor on-site photo programs in return for a percentage of sales. A photography background is helpful but not necessary; training involves photography lessons and tips on posing the furry subjects.

You need to look at your business and imagine that you're actively engaged in the process of readying it for franchise. That you are ready to create 5,000 businesses exactly like it. If you can think about your business in this way, if you can imagine what kind of systems, what kind of checks and balances you would need to achieve this result, then you can see what you have to do. You can see your mission clearly.

Every franchise in operation has done this to varying degrees. McDonald's, Starbucks, RadioShack, Baskin-Robbins...the list goes on and on. Don't let the magnitude of these corporations alienate you from the fundamental reality--that these companies employ techniques and strategies that are accessible to ALL business owners...even you!

It's not that they have exceptional products or services. They have exceptional businesses...their business model is their single most important product. If no aspect of a business is left to chance, the owner or operator's ability to achieve their business and life goals is greatly enhanced! The owner or operator's ability to remove themselves from the daily operating reality of the business becomes possible!

Here are four things to consider when gearing up to create your franchise prototype. They are the governing rules in the franchise game, and will provide you with a context in which to look at your business as a franchise prototype. Your business will:

• Provide consistent value to your customers, employees, suppliers, and lenders, and will exceed their expectations
• Be positioned to be operated by people with the lowest possible level of skill, because everything in the business will be systematized
• Be the exemplar of order, and will provide a predictable experience for your customers, employees, suppliers, and lenders
• Have all the work that happens documented in an Operations Manual, to ensure that the systems are followed

Creating the manuals, systems, formats, etc, will take time, money, and effort. Once these are established, however, you can begin selling your franchise like Dog Gone Portraits did. Let’s say that you sell 3 franchises per year at a profit of $15,000. That is an extra $45,000 to invest, creating even more residual income.

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