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Entrepreneurs Panel

Michael Oliver
Laura Tenison
Richard O'Sullivan
Julie Meyer
Steve Purdham
Jennie Johnson
Brian Hay
Tony Caldeira
David Pollock
Jeremy Roberts
Debbie Pierce
Charlie Mullins

Franchise time?

Richard O'Sullivan

Founded Millie’s Cookies in 1985 and went on to sell the Bury-based chain to catering giant Compass in 2003 for £24 million. In 2007 he signed an agreement with Boost Juice Bars – an Australian-based juice chain – to operate its UK outlets. The tenth Boost unit opened in the UK in Bristol in June 2009. O’Sullivan has been chairman of the Liverpool bar chain Baa Bar since 2006 and the Mexican food chain Barburrito since October 2008.

Question: 

Having run a specialist retail business for the last four years, I am now considering franchising the concept. I reckon there will be a lot of talented senior retail people with large redundancy cheques to invest after Christmas – could this be the time to make my move?

Answer: 

Franchising is often perceived as an easy route to expansion, reducing capital outlay and capturing the motivation, added sales and cost controls associated with owner-driver businesses. To be an effective franchisor you will need to be able to demonstrate considerable advantage to the franchisee for subscribing to your concept. Franchisees expect success and are often ill-prepared financially or mentally for the challenges ahead.

With only six existing operations, your concept is far from proven. Firstly, you will need to create a solid business plan to demonstrate to your potential franchisees that your concept is likely to succeed beyond the current six company-owned stores. You will need an experienced franchise lawyer to draw up a suitable franchise agreement. You will need an in-depth franchisee training programme and suitable in-house systems and support personnel to ensure that the franchisee is well trained and financially prepared for the challenge of a new business.

The British Franchise Association will be able to help with most of the above. Franchising is a marriage made in heaven for some, but a good pre-nup is a worthwhile investment.

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