How Long Does Opening a Franchise Actually Take?

Welcome to another episode of Atlanta Franchise Today with host Leslie Kuban, expert franchise consultant and owner of FranNet Atlanta. Atlanta Franchise Today is dedicated to bringing entrepreneurs and business owners the best practices and tips for their franchise goals. Many people exploring buying into a franchise opportunity, frequently ask about timing. How much time does it take to choose a franchise and then get it started? On today’s episode, Leslie shares her insight into the phases of the franchise process and the timeline franchisees can expect. 


Leslie Kuban:
Phase one is the choosing your brand part. If someone is willing to put forth a focused effort, and I would qualify that as about 10 to 15 hours a week in research, and you’re getting qualified help from experienced franchise consultants, experienced franchise attorneys. If that’s the path that you’re on, it’s very feasible to choose the right franchise brand for you in about 90 days on average.

Leslie Kuban:
And in doing so, I would encourage you to explore multiple options. Think about exploring different industries. Industries that are different from where you’ve had your corporate or your prior business experience. Look at different business models. Look at some businesses that are emerging and look at some brands that may have been around for a while. That diversity of exploration is what helps you come to an educated yes. It’s important to go through this via process of elimination. That the way we get to a good yes is by making sure that we’re making educated nos.

Leslie Kuban:
So once we’ve chosen our franchise brand, we move into phase two, which is the getting it started part. The big x-factor in the startup is if you do or do not need real estate for your franchise brand of choice. If you need a prime location, let’s say it needs to be next to Trader Joe’s or next to the super Publix, it’s going to take some fine to find that location, negotiate with the landlord, go through the buildup process. So I would suggest it’s going to take at least six months from the time you sign your franchise agreement, until it’s realistic that you’ll be up and open and operating and serving customers in your business. And some examples would be franchise brands in the restaurant industry and fitness and haircare, where you really do need that prime consumer-facing location as part of your success strategy.

Leslie Kuban:
Now, there are many franchise businesses, hundreds of service franchise businesses, where you don’t need that piece of real estate in order to be successful. They may be home-based or you’re servicing your customers via mobile vehicles. In that case, it might only be four to eight weeks after you’ve signed your franchise agreement and go through your training, that you can be open for business and generating revenue. There are many examples: business consulting, pest control, handyman services, are just a few. Your timing is something you need to consider on your list of criteria when choosing a franchise opportunity. Some people need to get a business up and running quickly. Others have more leeway in order to consider bricks and mortar franchises where it may be six, nine or 12 months or a year before you’re actually open.

Leslie Kuban:
Now there’s no right or wrong as to how long it takes to choose your business. Some people take longer, some people take shorter, but there is a time pressure factor that you might want to keep in mind. And I call that factor candidate competition. Strong franchise brands are aggressively recruiting franchisees in hot markets like Atlanta, so it’s very likely that the brand is talking to other people besides you, interested in franchise licenses. And some of those people may be interested in areas of the market that you would also be interested in opening that business. A brand is typically only going to award so many licenses in a market, so there usually is a period where they stop recruiting new franchisees. And at that point allow their existing franchisees to continue to expand.

Leslie Kuban:
Another point to think about, is that just because you’re not seeing a particular type of business open near you, doesn’t mean it’s available for development. Somebody else might have signed a multiunit agreement six months ago or 12 months ago, and they just haven’t opened that business yet in your area, but it’s coming soon. My tip would be, ask the franchisor about availability before you spend weeks or even months doing your due diligence. I’ve seen people do that only to be very disappointed to learn that the business they had their heart set on, actually was never available in the first place. So that’s a easy thing to accomplish is to reach out to the brand and make sure they’re open for development in your area of interest. I hope this has been helpful for you, and thank you for joining me today. I look forward to seeing you next week on Atlanta Franchise Today.

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