One of the most critical elements in successful franchising outside of defining the “how” of the brand is most certainly the “where.” A franchisee prospect, from both a professional and personal perspective, has a vested interest in the where, especially if they have family, friends, investments, interests, or preferences that are tied to where a brand offers location opportunities. Many also want to understand, as a part of their business investment decision, how and why franchisors draw their areas in a certain way. This leads us to a basic rule most franchisors follow when it comes to the where: you offer market areas where there are people who want or need the franchisor’s product or service at the level required to make the case for a financially and personally fulfilling business ownership opportunity.
At TWO MEN AND A TRUCK®/INTERNATIONAL, Inc., we draw our market areas typically around a certain population size, factoring in the physical size and then the features of the geography, such as roads and potential physical impediments to getting to customers, such as bodies of water, mountains or other natural boundaries. In summary, we simply answer three questions when drawing market areas:
- Are there enough people?
- Where are they?
- Can we get to them?
We keep it simple because this has worked for the brand during our many years in franchising, but also because it creates the right type of decision-making dynamic when a prospect is considering our brand. The prospect must make the effort to look at the market carefully, considering factors that will affect their success, from the demographics of the population, to where they can locate an office including truck parking, to whom they can network with to grow their market. In short, they have to ultimately make the decision of whether a market will work for them from a business perspective. But this perspective is not enough on its own. A prospect should be looking at the personal implications to a location decision as well.
The way we run our opportunity process also gives the prospect enough time and engagement to decide whether a market works for them personally. Sometimes, this can get lost in the rush of looking at an opportunity, or in situations where choices regarding locations are significantly controlled. Every brand is a little different regarding their basics for drawing market areas, but an engaged potential franchisee is always a good thing. While franchisors want their franchisees to give their all in developing the markets they are awarded, the work, live and play aspects should also be important, especially if there is a relocation involved. Nothing can negatively impact business success like personal distress. It is in both the franchisor and franchisee’s best interests as potential long-term partners to make sure the location decision is made in an informed manner.
To make an informed location decision as a franchisee prospect, there are some questions you can ask yourself in regards to any of the locations that are in your decision matrix. You probably want to conduct more detailed research, but these questions will at least give you some of the basics to potentially short list locations:
- Does this location offer the type of business culture and climate in which I want to run a business? If there are issues, such as costs and regulations, am I prepared to deal with them?
- Do I understand in general what is going on in the economy of the area? Do I think this franchising brand is a fit to meet a need or want in that area?
- Do I like the business organizations and networking the area offers? If not, how do I intend to compensate for this while building my business?
- Does this location have social, cultural and educational (if needed) amenities that appeal to me? How about the climate and natural offerings of the location?
- If I am relocating with others, how do they feel about the more personal amenities that the location offers?
- Do I like the housing and general cost of living in the area?
Answering these questions before diving too deeply into demographics might be enlightening.
One piece of closing advice, to help you avoid something everyone is prone to: do not get caught in the trap of choosing a location based on a place where you like to vacation. This may work out for you in some cases, but be sure to answer the questions above and look at the demographics as they relate to the type of franchise you want to open. You will be running a business, not permanently vacationing (at least not right away!), so be sure not to lose sight of the work environment, versus the live and play opportunities.
Mapping your franchising future can be challenging, but because location is such an important part of peoples’ lives, meeting the challenge with some careful questions and research can make for a better business and personal decision.
To learn more about the TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® franchise system and franchising opportunities visit our website.