Monday, October 13, 2014

Michael Martuza Discusses His New Book, "The Franchise Rules"

Michael Martuza is the owner of FranNet New England and the author of recently released The Franchise Rules: Find a great franchise that ‘fits’ your goals, skills, and budget. As a franchise consultant, Mike works with individuals considering business ownership to match them with franchise businesses in the local market. The book (paperback, ISBN 978-1500615734, $5.99) is the culmination of “rules” he’s gathered over his career to help others discover their ideal business opportunity.

What made you decide to write The Franchise Rules?
While working with clients, I continually come across the same situations and questions. Everyone tends to get hung up on similar issues, so I thought I would write about the underlying guidelines that I recommend clients follow when considering franchise ownership. Not only does it help me as a consultant, but it helps the client be better prepared and educated when they begin their investigation.

Much of the book's content was taken from my franchise business ownership seminars, which feature three basic rules. The book expands on that idea and is really a culmination of all of the rules I’ve figured out over my years of doing this.

How long did the book take you?
Three to four months.

What was your writing process?
I had all of these thoughts and stories I wanted to tell to clients before they began to look at a specific franchise. Prior to outlining the book, I really had to consider how to organize it. How do I make it easy to read and follow?

The book is formulated along the lines of a client’s thought process, beginning with what a client should do or how they should decide if a franchise is the right opportunity. And finally, how best to approach the due diligence process.

I would say 90 percent of the effort was in the organizing and editing. The goal was to provide a lot of great information in a very easy to read book.

How did the title come about?
I was sitting there with this list in my hand thinking about how best to get readers/potential clients to really understand that finding a great franchise is a step-by-step process. It occurred to me that this wasn’t just a list or a process, but for the most part "rules" that should always be followed. I think the title really sums up the contents of this book.

Your first rule, “Don’t Do Anything Stupid,” is pretty blunt. What was the inspiration behind that?
I often talk about people who end up making emotional buying decisions. What I mean are those potential business owners who, without doing any research, think “I want to be in this type of business because …” or “I saw this concept when I was on vacation and it worked there.” I stress that it’s important to inform them so they know what they’re doing and what they’re getting into.

It’s the first rule and phrased that way, because I don’t want readers to rush into a buying decision. Read the book. Read all of the book, and come away better educated on the process before making any decisions.

If there were one thing you would want readers to take away from The Franchise Rules, what would it be?
Utilize experts. They can help the potential franchise owner find the right opportunity; something that will ‘fit’ their goals, skills and budget.

How do these rules come into play when you’re working with clients at FranNet? 
Before a client comes in for a consult they are required (call it homework) to read the book. If they have attended a seminar, I will give it to them in person, otherwise I send it (via Amazon Prime) immediately after a Personal Franchise Assessment (PFA) review call. It takes about two hours to read, so if they are serious about looking at franchises, there is no excuse.

It’s great prep work. Not only does it help educate clients on the process they’re about to start, but it sets expectations and commitments for both parties.

Where can The Franchise Rules be purchased?
The book is available on Amazon, both in electronic ($2.99) and paperback ($5.99) versions.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Five Must Ask Questions Before Investing in a Franchise

There are so many opportunities in franchising that it’s tough to know which ones are worth further investigating and which ones may not be a good fit for your personal and financial goals.  Before you sign anything with a franchisor, here are five questions you must ask (and answer) yourself.
When potential candidates begin talking with franchise systems, they tend to ask pretty standard questions: How much money can I make? How much will I have to spend? How big can I get? Is the franchise territory exclusive? But the deeper you go in your research, the more pointed and detailed the questions get, and they’re critical for a franchisee candidate to ask before signing the franchise agreement.
What does your first-year support look like?
Most good franchise systems, understanding how important the first year of franchise ownership is and how likely a new owner is to struggle, provide extra support and coaching. It could mean the home office assuming all responsibility for marketing, or using customer service reps in a call center to schedule jobs while the franchise owner concentrates on executing the baseline work.
There are all kinds of ways of offering support. But it’s important for any franchisee to know what kind of help they’ll be getting at a time when they’ll really need it.
What are the most common problem areas for franchise owners in your system, and how do you help solve them?
The test of a good franchise system isn’t how well it works when business is going strong. It’s how it helps its franchise owners when they struggle. Even the smartest and hardest-working business owners in rock-solid systems run into challenges every now and then.
When that happens, the franchisor’s operations staff should be prepared to help the owner respond to the problem effectively. In the best systems, they’ve seen and can anticipate many of the pitfalls the business may face.
What kind of insurance should I have?
Don’t overlook this. Some businesses even require certain types of insurance (this would be addressed in the franchisor’s Franchise Disclosure Document).  It’s important to be protected in case of accident or natural disaster, and you need to make sure you’re including the ongoing expense in your business plan.
What kind of ongoing training is available?
Smart franchise systems understand that their franchisees need to keep their skills honed, and franchisees in the system need to stay up-to-date on best practices. Ongoing training opportunities are great for a secondary reason: they send the message that the franchisor cares enough about its franchise owners to give them the tools to succeed.
What’s the relationship among franchisees like?
A culture of cooperation among franchise owners can make the difference between success and failure, and good franchise systems go out of their way to foster good will. Incentives help: franchisors can single out especially helpful veteran franchise owners in internal communications, or they can give monthly “helping hand” awards for the franchisee who most helped first-year owners.
Going into business for yourself requires careful consideration and due diligence – and it’s not a decision to be taken lightly.  But it can be the most rewarding things you can do for your career. features some of the best franchises in their respective industry and is a great introduction to those brands.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Many Businesses Thrive in All Economic Conditions

If you’re considering franchise business ownership, then you’re most likely aware of the number of options available to you. From quick-service restaurants to IT services and health and wellness businesses, there are more than 3,000 concepts available across more than 90 industries.

Having experienced an economic recession, you may be among the potential business owners thinking, “What about the economy?” Fortunately, the franchise industry is expected to see a continued increase in employment growth and franchise units established for 2014, according to a report released by the International Franchise Association.

Even so, if the economy is on your mind, you should know that there are many businesses that thrive in all economic conditions. So what are they and why is that the case? Below we discuss three areas of franchise businesses considered to be recession-resistant.

Growing markets driven by demographics
Senior care, residential repair and cleaning are just a few of the markets that continue to see steady growth within the franchise industry. What sets these markets apart is how they are driven by demographics.

Take senior care, for example. There are nearly 76 million baby boomers, those born between 1946 and 1964, in the U.S. They make up approximately 24 percent of the U.S. population. As a matter of fact, there’s a person who turns senior age every seven seconds in the U.S. As this generation ages, we will continue to see a growing need for specialized services, care and products. These are needs that, regardless of the economic climate, will need to be met.

Essential services
Essential services are those things that, for the most part, we have to have. These types of services range from the automotive and damage restoration industries to health and wellness, and even hair care.

Let’s look at the automotive industry. From getting to work, to driving to school or dropping the kids off at practice, many of us depend on our cars daily. The best way to keep your car in tip-top shape is to perform routine maintenance, cleaning and detailing.

If you’re thinking, “I can do an oil change myself,” consider that cars today can have fairly advanced issues. Problems with the electrical or fuel system, for instance, may require the expertise of a professional. Plus, many people just don’t have the time, even if they have the knowhow, for DIY. In other words, if you’re a car owner, it’s likely you’ll make needed financial adjustments in order to keep your vehicle up and running.

Businesses that help other small businesses
Franchise opportunities that help other small businesses are things like business coaching, professional consulting, expense analysis and sales training. These types of franchise businesses are great for taking the skills you’ve developed over your tenure and applying them through your own business to help others succeed in theirs.

In an economic downturn, companies may need to re-budget, improve their sales process or decide how best to retain current clients. Often times, additional expertise is needed in these situations. But if you think about it, even in a good economy, these types of business issues are equally important, helping companies focus on business growth or staff development.

There are more than 3,000 concepts to choose from in the franchise industry. We’ve touched on just a few. If the thought of an uncertain economy makes you weary about business ownership, remember that many businesses thrive in all economic conditions.