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6 Reasons Why Military Veterans Make Great Franchise Owners

According to the International Franchise Association, one out of every seven franchises in the U.S. is owned by a military veteran. If you’re a military vet, or married to or closely related to one, you’re probably not surprised by that statistic. Why? Military veterans make excellent franchise owners because their training and experience have prepared them for these unique roles. Reason 1: They are easily trained. Members of the military—regardless of the branch—go through rigorous training. That makes veterans much easier to train on franchise operations and processes. Reason 2: They are leaders. Not every member of the military has to be promoted to a high rank to learn leadership skills. They almost all have to have a leadership role as part of their service. This provides training in leadership that a franchisor simply could not provide. Instead, military veterans come to the franchise world with leadership skills already in place. And these skills are needed to lead a team of employees in building a successful franchise. Reason 3: They get “systems.” Veterans understand that systems exist for a reason and they adhere to those systems. This is crucial for a successful franchisee, because franchises are built upon systems that are tried-and-true and easily replicated. Reason 4: They are committed. Serving in the military requires a level of commitment and drive unlike pretty much any job in the private sector. Veterans have given their all to their country, at a cost to themselves and their families. They understand commitment, and they will commit to success if they buy a franchise. Reason 5: They understand the concept of being part of something bigger. Military veterans have been part of something very big: the defense of our country. They have learned, in a way, the concept of “brand” and uniformity, and how these systems are needed for the good of the whole. And that’s almost as true as successful franchising as it is of the military! Reason 6: They can handle the stress. They’ve been to boot camp and possibly the front lines. They can handle starting a franchise! They’ve been put through stress unlike any most other Americans might undergo, and that includes the familial stress of military service as well, not just the stress of being a soldier, sailor or airman. They’ve learned to cope with and overcome stress, a skill that serves them well when they buy a new franchise and get it up and running. If you’re a military veteran considering a franchise, you’re well-positioned to succeed right from the very start, as these six reasons show. And with the discount we offer to veterans in gratitude for your service, Fleet Clean might be just the franchise for you! Did You Know? With Fleet Clean, you have the option to have us get your mobile fleet washing business up and running for you before you take over to run it yourself. Imagine: It’s your franchise, but when you take over, you already have your facility, equipment, staff…and customers! Learn more here… Get Expert Advice on Reading the FDD Having trouble wading through all the information in that Franchise Disclosure Document? We searched for some help for you, and found three experts worth the read. Read more… Is Bigger Necessarily Better in the World of Franchises? Reasons for and against...

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The FDD: Experts Offer 3 Ways to Read It—and Make Sense of It

You might not want to pay for an attorney to read through the FDD with you (or even for you), and that’s understandable. If you’re considering an investment in a franchise, you’re probably watching every dollar right now. So how can just a regular guy or gal sit down with that FDD and make sense of it on his or her own? You’re not the only one asking that! So we went to that resource of the modern age, Google, and do some research to find advice for you. Keep reading for our round-up… The FDD includes a whopping 23 items The Franchise Disclosure Document is not light reading. By law it has to include all of the following 23 items, which leads to some lengthy (and necessary!) documents: Item 1. The Franchisor and any Parents, Predecessors, and Affiliates Item 2. Business Experience Item 3. Litigation Item 4. Bankruptcy Item 5. Initial Fees Item 6. Other Fees Item 7. Estimated Initial Investment Item 8. Restrictions on Sources of Products and Services Item 9. Franchisee’s Obligations Item 10. Financing Item 11. Franchisor’s Assistance, Advertising, Computer Systems, and Training Item 12. Territory Item 13. Trademarks Item 14. Patents, Copyrights, and Proprietary Information Item 15. Obligation to Participate in the Actual Operation of the Franchise Business Item 16. Restrictions on What the Franchisee May Sell Item 17. Renewal, Termination, Transfer, and Dispute Resolution Item 18. Public Figures Item 19. Financial Performance Representations Item 20. Outlets and Franchisee Information Item 21. Financial Statements Item 22. Contracts Item 23. Receipts Whew! Intimidated yet? That’s okay! That’s why we’re here, and why you’re reading this post! Now, let’s move on to helping you make sense of this long list. Below are three articles we recommend you use to guide you in reviewing and understanding any FDDs that you receive. We list them in order from most helpful to least, yet strongly suggest you read through all three. Our top pick Our favorite is an article titled, “How to read an FDD like a pro.” With 30 years’ experience writing about franchises, journalist Julie Bennett took her experience and applied it to reading—and comparing—two Franchise Disclosure Documents. She has developed a system for looking at FDDs, and she shares it with you here, including the big three that stand out to her “like a rash:” Item 3 Litigation, Item 4 Bankruptcy, and Item 20 List of Franchise Outlets. She explains in the article why those three are the most important in her opinion. If an FDD doesn’t pass the test on those three, there’s little reason to review the rest of the FDD. Another helpful article Entrepreneur offers an overview of each of the 23 items in the Franchise Disclosure Document. For each, you’ll learn why it’s there, what to look for, and potential red flags. This one made the list because it’s so easy to read and could be very useful. The FDD itself can be intimidating. Reading this article first might make it less so. Plus it gives you a break down of each item, so you can read the overview, then read the item with the overview fresh in your mind. Note: The article was written in 2011, meaning details might have changed since then, but the advice given should still apply. Worth...

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Marketing Matters: Know What You Can—or Can’t—Expect From the Franchisor

When you become a franchise owner, you also become a sales person, because sales is how you get customers. In order to pursue those sales, however, you need marketing to raise awareness and introduce your company to a prospective customer. And when we say you need marketing, we mean you need marketing. Without it, sales will be much harder to do. So make sure you understand what a franchisor offers you in terms of marketing support, and how much will be your responsibility—and additional cost. Every new business has to do sales at the outset, even a franchise (although Fleet Clean has an inside sales team to help you jumpstart your business). That means every new business has to do marketing at the outset. The franchisor knows this and is ready to help, because they want you to succeed. But you need to know to what degree they will help, what they will charge you for that help, and what you’ll have to pay in addition to that before you sign any contract. To start, take a close look at items 6 and 11 in the Franchise Disclosure Document. Item 6 covers additional fees, and Item 11 covers franchisor obligations. The first might give you insight into what your marketing costs will be beyond what you’re paying the franchisor. The latter might give you insight into what kinds of marketing the franchisor is committing to do on your behalf. In addition to a scrutiny of the FDD, ask these questions to get a better understanding of the marketing support you will or won’t get from a franchisor: What kind of marketing support is offered? At the beginning? On an ongoing basis? What is the cost of this marketing support? Is it paid as a fee, a percentage of sales, or  in some other way? What kinds of marketing processes are already in place for you to use as a franchisee, both for your grand opening and on an ongoing basis? What kinds of marketing materials are made available to you, including both print and digital? What kind of support is offered beyond what you’re paying for as part of your franchise investment or fees? Will the franchisor do public relations for you? Will they distribute press releases, or write them for you to distribute? Will they reach out to local publications on your behalf? Are there existing relationships with vendors that can provide you with marketing materials? Does the franchisor manage advertising for you? If so, where are ads placed? Is there offline as well as online advertising? What kind of web support is offered? Is it 24×7 or limited in scope? Is the website kept up-to-date? Is it optimized for search engines? Do they manage email marketing for you or are you on your own? If you’re on your own, will they set you up with a provider, templates and training? Is the marketing done or provided by the franchisor mobile friendly, rendering well on smart phones and tablets? What kind of social media marketing will the franchisor do on your behalf? What options are available to you to do on your own? Are you able to do advertising or marketing on your own? What kind of oversight does the franchisor require to ensure you stay on brand?...

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Beyond Item 6: Avoid Surprises by Budgeting for ALL Ongoing Expenses

Investing in a franchise comes with some big upfront costs, and they’re not all financial. Depending on the franchise, you could spend millions to get started, say if you chose to buy a hotel or storage unit franchise. Or you could get started with a janitorial type franchise for just a few thousand dollars. But whichever end of the investment scale you choose, you must factor in that you’ll have ongoing expenses as well, beyond those related to the franchisor. Most—if not all—franchises will charge you a regular fee or royalty. It’s part of the business model. They could also charge you for certain recurring needs, such as training or technical support. But we’re not talking about those expenses, because those should be spelled out for you ahead of time. No, we’re talking about all of the other expenses associated with owning and running a business…even a franchise business. You need to know what your franchise will cost to run When we talk about ongoing costs, think about it like your car: You buy the car, and that’s a big expense, and then you continue to have expenses related to owning and driving that car, such as insurance, fuel, maintenance and licensing. It’s the same with running any business: Sure, you have startup costs to get up and running, and then you have other costs you’ll incur on a daily, weekly, monthly or even annual basis. Even though it’s a franchise—meaning you’ll have set startup costs—you’ll have ongoing expenses, just like any other business. Why Item 6 doesn’t cover these costs You’ll find ongoing expenses listed in Item 6 in the Franchise Disclosure Document. However, those will be limited to ongoing expenses associated with the franchise, not third-party expenses. To get you factoring these expenses into your financial forecasting, below we list some of the types of ongoing expenses you might incur. The exact costs of running a business will depend on many variables, including the type of franchise you’re buying, your location and other factors, so this list is a guideline only. Inventory and supplies: When considering supplies, think beyond the inventory to consider everything it takes to keep a commercial business going every day, such as toilet paper, coffee, cleaning equipment and more Utilities, including electricity, water, sewer, garbage, gas Rent Insurance, including property, vehicle, equipment and health insurance Payroll Telephone and Internet service, as well as cell phone service Taxes including payroll, property, and state-specific taxes such as Business and Operating taxes Marketing expenses, including signage, advertising and membership in local organizations like your chamber of commerce Tech support Building and facility maintenance, including regular maintenance like janitorial and/or grounds keeping, but also irregular maintenance such as repaving a parking lot, repairing a roof, etc. Fleet and/or equipment maintenance, including parts, fuel, oil and servicing As you can see, there could potentially be a lot more checks to write each month beyond what you’re paying to be a franchisee. Do your homework to make sure you have factored in all of these other kinds of expenses. If you’ve narrowed down your choice to only a couple of potential franchises, you might ask them for a list of expenses you can expect to have outside of the franchise costs and what other franchisees pay. Buy a New...

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What the McDonald’s Cases Might Mean for the Franchise Industry

Is a franchisor a “joint employer” of a franchisee’s employees? In the past, that hasn’t been the case, but recent cases against one of the world’s best-known franchises might indicate a change. As a franchise, McDonald’s has been like an all-beef patty squeezed between two buns lately. On the east coast, the National Labor Relations Board claims McDonald’s is a joint employer under the federal law that governs union organizing. The reasoning is that McDonald’s tells franchises how to do every little detail and that implies the franchise is also responsible for workers’ conditions. If McDonald’s is found to be a joint employer, unions could begin to organize the employees of the franchisees in a fight for hire wages. Meanwhile, on the other bun (a.k.a. the west coast), McDonald’s has agree to pay $3.75 million to settle a lawsuit that claims the company was liable for labor law violations by a California franchisee. In this case, McDonald’s was not found to be a joint-employer, but was found to be responsible for the behavior and practices of their franchisee known as Smith Family. This might put us on a slippery slope toward a “joint employer” designation. In our thinking as a franchise company, the McDonald’s cases could change things drastically for franchisors should the case on the east coast determine the franchisor is in fact a “co-employer” and therefore liable for the things their franchisees do wrong. The ramifications could extend beyond food franchises to affect many other—if not all—franchise models, from home health care to, yes, mobile fleet cleaning. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, however. Some analysts say it could improve the franchise model by improving working conditions and creating more stable careers. In addition, it might require the franchisor to provide additional training in areas such as sexual harassment and record-keeping methods, plus more auditing to ensure the franchisees are abiding by the laws of their states. These might be additional burdens on the franchisor, but aren’t necessarily negative. The ramifications could even extend beyond franchises in the eyes of the National Labor Relations Board. Some say it could extend to other business models, claiming that they are also joint employers, such as businesses that use subcontractors or temporary agencies, and that these types of employers are liable for overtime and union-organizing violations. It’s an interesting time, and we won’t know the actual fallout from either of these cases for a while. However, there is one definite takeaway: Make sure you choose to invest in a franchise with a reputable company that’s unlikely to have labor relations issues!   The Fleet Clean Sales Team Jumpstarts Sales for New Franchisees Fleet Clean has an inside sales team dedicated to drumming up business for new franchise owners before these new owners even open their doors. Read more…   More Demand for Fleet Washing Due to FSMA The Food Safety and Modernization Act (FSMA) has created an increasing demand for the fleet washing services offered by companies like Fleet Clean. Read...

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Is Bigger Better? In the Franchise World, It Depends

“Bigger is better.” How often do we hear that refrain? And why do we hear it so often? It’s not really true. Is a bigger house better? Not necessarily. A super-sized milkshake? Most definitely not! And I doubt any of us would argue for a bigger credit card bill! As with so many sayings, the whole “bigger is better” statement is best countered with a solid “it depends.” And so it is in the world of franchising too. Big franchises abound! McDonald’s, Dunkin’ Donuts, 7 Eleven, Century 21…chances are very good that you can’t drive down the street without passing at least one popular franchise, if not several. But that doesn’t make a big one the best one for you. Reasons for and against the big, safe bet If you’re in the market for a franchise, you might be looking at these big, safe bets, and for good reason. They are low risk. The brand is built. Customers will know who you are and what you do even before you open your doors for business. However, it’s also harder to get into one of the mega franchises. The franchisor wants to lower their risk as much as you do, and they might prefer selling new units to an existing franchise owner rather than take a gamble on you. In addition, there might be a lot of competition from other potential franchisees. And let’s not forget about location, location, location: When a franchise already has thousands of locations, how are you going to get a primo spot that’s not already taken? Growth will likely be slow if not stagnant too. Growth is not something experienced by a decades-old fast food franchise! And these franchises can charge a premium. They are selling something tried and true and people want to buy. The law of supply and demand ensures these big franchises go for big bucks. Finally there’s your motivation to consider: If you’re considering buying a franchise so you can be your own boss, think about what that looks like to you. A big franchise will have set rules and hardly any (if any) flexibility. They don’t need to. They’ve spent years perfecting their processes, and they don’t need any free-thinking rebels in there stirring up trouble. Why smaller might be a better fit If you want to be your own boss in a way that allows you some independence, the smaller franchise might be a better fit. And many franchises are smaller, with 60% of franchises numbering less than 50 locations. With a smaller franchise, you have plenty of options to choose from, a lower price for entry, flexibility, potential for growth, and a chance at a premium location. Sure, there’s more risk and some of the processes might still be in the trial-and-error stage, but that uncertainty is worth it if it means you get what you want as a franchise owner! Is bigger better? It depends.   Which Type of Franchise Is Right for You? With over 3,000 franchise opportunities out there, it can be a challenge to narrow down your list. Start with this advice on determining which type of franchise is right for you. Read more… Should You Use a Franchise Broker? Maybe. Maybe Not. Check out these reasons for and against using a franchise broker...

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Above and Beyond: Fleet Clean Offers Inside Sales to Help New Owners Jumpstart Their Business

Above and Beyond: Fleet Clean Offers Inside Sales to Help New Owners Jumpstart Their Business

That franchise opportunity is looking like a really sweet deal, but how can you know what life will really be like if you sign that contract and become a franchisee? Will the franchise follow up on the promises made? Or will the reality be something less than you’d envisioned? Unless you have a fully functioning crystal ball, you probably can’t know, only surmise, what the immediate future holds. However, you can look for specifics about a franchisor that stand out, services that go above and beyond what you’ve seen offered by other companies. That’s a good indicator that the franchisor is truly invested in your success as a franchise owner and that the promises made will be kept. Fleet Clean offers inside sales For example, Fleet Clean has an internal sales team that can jumpstart the sales process for new franchisees. (They are pictured here!) It’s not something we have to do, or that we’re obligated to do. Rather it’s something we’ve decided to do in order to help our new franchise owners get on the road to success faster. In part we do this because we know how busy new franchisees are with everything else. They have training to master, employees to hire, logistics to figure out, and so much more. Sales is something they probably won’t get to until all else is done, so why not give them a helping hand? And it can be a big helping at that! When we did advance sales for our new franchisee in Boise, Idaho, he had so many customers before he even opened for business that he had to order a second truck before the big day! Scaling back after the jumpstart Once we do initial sales for a new location, we scale back our sales efforts and let the franchise owner take over the sales duties. This is at our discretion and we might spend more or less time on inside sales depending on each franchise owner’s needs. Our inside sales center is a service operated by Fleet Clean corporate. As franchisees sign on with Fleet Clean to become the latest Fleet Clean franchisee, we provide sales services for that location, acting as an extension of that branch. Although we are not obligated to provide this service per the franchise agreement, we have decided to. Nor do we charge a fee for it. We want our franchise owners to be as successful as they can. Giving them a jumpstart on sales as they’re going through training, buying equipment and setting up shop is one way we can make their transition from someone dreaming about a franchise to someone succeeding at a franchise easier, smoother and faster. And it’s one way we can prove and demonstrate our commitment to those who are already buying and those who are thinking about it.   10 Steps to Becoming a Top Franchisee If you’re thinking about buying a franchise, here are some important steps to take in order to build the best business possible. Read more… Why You Should Choose a B2B Franchise If you’re debating between a B2C or a B2B franchise, here are seven reasons why a business-to-business franchise might be the best fit. Read...

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No Track Record? Weighing the Pros and Cons of a Newer Franchise

New franchise opportunities pop up every day. Some are trendy and destined to be short-lived. Others have definite staying power. The foreign language services company Berlitz has been around since 1878, but there are no guarantees the new franchise you’re looking at is going to be around for a century, let alone a few years. But what if you’re drawn to something new rather than an established franchise? How do you know what to expect from a franchise if you’re considering an emerging, or younger, one? Know that there are cons and pros both with a younger franchise. The cons of younger franchise opportunities First off, know that a new franchise has more risk. That’s to be expected. It’s new. You might get all caught up in the sexy newness of it all, so make sure you do extra due diligence in your research. It might be the hottest new business idea now, but one that will quickly fizzle out by 2018. Do you want to invest your savings in a franchise with a two-year life expectancy? But then, how can you predict such a tendency? You’ll also have less support from corporate with a new franchise because they haven’t had time to build a support team for you…or anyone else, for that matter. Nor will they have refined processes in place—you know, the kind built over time based on trial and error. There will likely be more bumps in the road as things get worked out. You won’t have any brand recognition when you start, unlike with an established franchise. That means practically starting from scratch and working a lot harder to get people familiar with the brand—and potentially with the service or product too. The pros of younger franchise opportunities It’s not all bad news if you choose a younger, less known franchise, however. With a newer franchise, corporate tends to be more flexible and new franchisees can sometimes have more of a voice than they would with an established company. If you want the jumpstart of an existing business but also to be a bit of an entrepreneur, a new franchise might be a good fit. There’s also more flexibility with the day-to-day operation of the business, since processes are still getting refined. Corporate is less likely to have hard-and-fast rules about operations, giving new franchisees a chance to figure some things out for themselves, which definitely appeals to some people! Buying into a newer, younger franchise can also mean you’ll probably get more attention as a new franchisee when going through training and setup, as well as more territories to choose from. So, how do you choose? If the advantages of the younger franchise appeal to you, still do your due diligence when doing your research—and maybe even more than you normally would. You won’t have any kind of a track record to look at to understand the potential stability or longevity of a new franchise, remember. You’ll probably have to do more legwork than usual, plus you’ll need to pay extra close attention to details in the Franchise Disclosure Document. A “younger” franchise can be a good fit for some new franchisees, but don’t assume it will be for you. Do you homework and be well aware of what you will and won’t get with a...

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Franchise Training: Why It Matters, How to Evaluate It

You want to succeed as a franchisee, so you want to give the training program serious consideration when comparing franchise opportunities. You’re taking on a business, which means the number of tasks and responsibilities you’ll oversee will be many. In many cases, new franchise owners are new to an industry as well, not just to business ownership. The training you will receive will play a critical role in how well you do as a franchise owner. So you must give it serious consideration. We can’t stress this enough. Why training should matter even more than you think However, the quality of the training program matters not just because you want to make sure you know how to run the business. The franchisor wants—no, needs—you to succeed, so their training program should be well thought out. If it’s not, that’s cause for concern for you. Consider also that the training is not just for you, to ensure you will stay true to the brand and run the operation efficiently. It’s also for your peace of mind, so you know the other franchisees are also well trained. If they’re not, and they either damage the brand or provide poor customer service or in some other way poorly conduct themselves as franchise owners, that could affect your own business since you’re connected to them via the franchise—in the mind of the consumer, you are the bad franchisee. Questions to ask about franchise training The training you’ll need will be somewhat dependent on the type of franchise you buy. A mobile fleet washing franchise, for example, will differ significantly from a hair-cutting salon in the kind of training you will require to be successful. So we can’t offer you a comprehensive list of questions for evaluating a franchisor’s training program. However, we can prepare you with some general questions to ask as you evaluate the training programs of the various franchises you’re considering. Among the questions you’ll want answered, definitely include these: What kind of training is available to new franchisees? What is the duration? Is there a cost? In which of the following areas will you receive training, and what kind? Marketing Operations Finance Employee training Customer service Software Equipment Payroll Accounting Management Compliance Topics specific to the franchise, such as food handling or equipment maintenance Is there classroom training? Is there on-the-job training? Is ongoing training provided? What kind of training is provided when new protocols, products or services are released? What kinds of resources are available after the training, such as printed materials, online resources, or support people who can be contacted via phone or email? Once you’ve compared training programs and committed to a franchise, take the training program seriously. Learn everything you possibly can and make sure you know where to turn for answers in the future. A responsible franchisor will have built a training program based on trial and error in the past, and you’ll eliminate a lot of your own trial and error if you stick with what you’re taught—and that will get you on the road to success much faster as a new franchise owner.   Confused by FDD Item 19? Why It Matters and What to Look for Item 19 is optional in the Franchise Disclosure Document, and this makes it a very big deal...

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Passion Before Profit: Choosing a Franchise With Both Heart AND Mind

You’re buying a franchise. It’s a big deal. You have a lot to consider because you’re making a financial investment, yes, but you’re also making an emotional and intellectual investment too. This isn’t only about how much money you can make. It’s about doing something you care about and want to do all day every day for a very long while. That’s why you have to take passion into account when considering your franchise options. This isn’t to say the monetary stuff doesn’t matter, because it does. You’re not buying a franchise to do charity work. You’re doing it to provide for yourself, your family, your future employees…your future life. The financial aspect is a huge part of the decision you’ll make. How much will it cost to buy into the franchise? How much will it cost to run? How long until you start to see a profit? What kind of profit? There are many questions that need answers when it comes to the balance sheet of dollars and cents. But when it comes to the balance sheet of life, you need to make sure you have a passion for the franchise you choose as well. Here’s why: Chances are, you won’t be turning a profit right away after buying a franchise. What will carry you through until you do? Passion. When you care about what you do so much that your feet hit the ground running in the morning and you can’t wait to see what the day brings, you’ll weather the tough times with ease. And there will be tough times. In addition to getting the business built, there will be things that simply go wrong. That’s life. There will be days employees call in sick, customers cancel contracts, or weather wreaks havoc on your daily operations. Having a passion for your franchise business will carry you through the tough times. You have to believe in what you’re doing, that you’re doing some good in the world through the products or services you’re providing, the employees you’re hiring, and the example you’re setting for your kids. Passion trickles down! If you as the owner of the franchise lack a passion for the business, how can you possibly expect your employees to care? And non-caring employees do not deliver good or quality customer service! It will keep you from getting burned out because who can burn out doing something they love and thrive on? And remember what we said above about passion carrying you through during the bad days? Passion brings immeasurable joy on the good days. When you really truly care about your work and your business, the good days are just that much better, re-energizing you for whatever lies ahead! Does all of this talk about passion sound idealistic? Probably. But isn’t becoming self-employed idealistic anyway? Aren’t we pursuing dreams when we choose to be self-employed, to be our own bosses and choose our own destinies? Yes, and it’s a driving force behind successful entrepreneurs. Passion. When you’re considering your franchise options, it needs to come before profit. So choose with your heart and your mind both.   Why Competition Is a Great Business Tool The idea of competing with other businesses shouldn’t scare you but rather it should strengthen you and your resolve, leading to...

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