What is franchising? A franchise is an arrangement where one party (the franchisor) grants another party (the franchisee) the right to use its trademark or trade-name as well as certain business, marketing systems and operational procedures to produce and market a product or service in accordance with the terms set out in a franchise agreement. The franchisee pays a one-time initial fee in return for training, often an exclusive franchise territory, a five year renewable franchise agreement and a business start-up package. Franchisees normally pay a percentage of their sales revenue on a monthly basis in return for on-going support and training from the franchisor. Why you should explore franchising The beauty of a franchise is that a lot of the hard ground work is already done for you – you are effectively buying a ‘business in a box’. The franchisor needs to have proven that their franchise can form the foundations of a profitable and sustainable business. It is like being your own boss but having the support, marketing strategies and back office systems of a large organization behind you. Many of the best-known brands such as McDonalds, Subway and Domino’s Pizza are franchise operations. However, there are a huge variety of other franchise businesses in every sector imaginable from property lettings to family magazine publishing. There are also many different styles of franchise from management franchises where you appoint a manager to run the franchise to part-time franchises, which you can fit to your own unique lifestyle, social and family commitments. How to Choose a Franchise Buying a franchise is a large commitment and not just financially. It is usually a five year agreement so you have to be sure that you can work well with the franchisor. I recommend attending some of the key franchise exhibitions held in the UK and overseas where you can meet franchisors and franchisees face-toface. Once you have shortlisted your chosen franchises attend one of their ‘discovery days’ where you can find out more about the franchise. It is essential to be able to speak openly to franchisees about their experiences – good and bad – most ethical franchisors will encourage this.