Tag Archives: franchising tips

Best Business Advice From Our Franchise Owners

Are you considering investing in a home and commercial property inspection business? National Property Inspections and Global Property Inspections offer fantastic opportunities with a top-ranked franchisor. But don’t just listen to us — here’s some practical business advice and commentary from our franchise owners.

Vaughn_JimJim Vaughn, NPI Franchise Owner, Cape Coral, Florida
“With a franchise, you do not enter a new industry alone. You have technical support, technology support, world-class training and marketing, not to mention the tools, inspection software and commercial inspection leads. If I had gone the independent route, there is no way I would have been as successful as I am in my first year. No way!

“Joining NPI was my best business decision I have ever made in my entire life. The single biggest reason that I choose NPI over the other four or five home inspection franchises that I looked at can be expressed in one word: integrity. Every single thing that NPI said I would receive, gain, do, learn and experience has come true. There is not one instance where anything has gone sideways or turned bad. It hasn’t always been easy or unchallenging, but NPI has always stood by their word and come through.”

newhook_toddTodd Newhook, GPI Franchise Owner, Markham, Ontario
“I joined the GPI team approximately eight years ago. Owning a franchise allowed me to start my inspection business within a fairly short period of time. The benefits of owning a franchise are being able to utilize the marketing program, technical support and business support provided by the franchisor from the get-go. Another benefit of owning a franchise with GPI is the friendship and comradery with the team and other inspectors, and taking advantage of learning from the top-performing franchisees to help grow our business. GPI taught me to diversify my business with additional services and build the business to a point where I could bring on additional inspectors and run the franchise like a small business. We’re now a team of four and growing. We’re excited about the future with our friends at GPI!”

yost_clydeClyde Yost, NPI Franchise Owner, Kansas City, Missouri
“The inspection field has given me the opportunity so see the interior of homes and commercial buildings that are not open to the general public, meet interesting buyers, and become knowledgeable in various styles of construction.

“I chose the franchise route for starting my business because I had a lot of experience in large commercial projects but very little knowledge in residential properties. I was also looking for help in starting a new business and not being an employee. I have had a very good experience with NPI and look forward to the annual meetings.”

If you are ready to make your dream of owning a home and commercial property inspection business come true, National Property Inspections in the United States and Global Property Inspections in Canada have franchise opportunities available in your area. Contact Julie Erickson at 1.800.333.9807, Ext. 24, for information about our franchise opportunities.

Should I Start My Own Business or Buy a Franchise?

Couple + Inspection Report_shutterstock_186413990You have reached a point in your life that brings you to making a decision about your career. You know what kind of work you want to do, and you know you want your own business. Now you are down to the final decision of choosing to start a business or buy a franchise. What should you consider before making that choice?

  • Ownership: Whichever way you choose to start your business, you will still be the owner of the business.
  • Time: Neither owning your business independently nor owning a franchise will have a factor on the time you spend running your business. More than likely, much of your time will be spent on the business, especially during the early years.
  • Ambition: Make sure you have the ambition to start a business. Starting and running a business is a lot of hard work, and you will face obstacles and challenges.
  • Financing: Of course, you will have to provide a certain amount of funding to get either business started. Click here to read our post about how to fund your small business.
  • Knowledge: You will need some type of knowledge or experience related to the business you are starting. If you choose to purchase a franchise, your franchisor may provide the training you need.

Now that you have considered the fundamentals that you need to get started, it’s time to narrow your decision-making — possibly by considering the pros and cons of starting your own business versus buying a franchise. Consider the following:

Marketing: If you start an independent business, you will have to begin marketing your product or services by either attempting it yourself or hiring someone to do it for you. If you purchase a franchise, the franchisor will already have an effective, ongoing marketing plan that has been tested and proven.

Methods: Starting your own business independently will take a lot of time, money and effort to find the methods and models that work. A franchise already has proven methods and models in place, as well as an established brand. This in itself proves that there is a demand for this particular product or service.

Area: If starting your business independently, you don’t really have a set area to sell or market to — you will have to try diligently to capitalize on certain areas to become established. This can be difficult and expensive, as there is competition and you may spend a lot of time that results in low sales as you try to get established. A franchise will provide you with a specific territory to work and provides you startup power as you work to gain recognition in that area.

Ownership: One benefit specific to franchises is that people tend to work harder and be more accountable if they are part of a larger company.

Guidelines: If you become part of a franchise, you will have rules to follow without exception. While you won’t have these rules if you start your business independently, many of the rules are based on best practices and are in place to help franchisees succeed.

Royalty Fees: As part of a franchise, you will pay a royalty fee based on your sales. When comparing franchisors, be sure to compare royalty fees. Some franchises charge a straight royalty, while others have multiple royalties — such as a royalty on your sales and an advertising royalty.

Association. As part of a franchise, you are associated with that company, so bad products or services can affect the whole.

If you are ready to make your dream of owning a business come true, National Property Inspections in the United States and Global Property Inspections in Canada have franchise opportunities available in your area. Contact Julie Erickson at 1.800.333.9807, Ext. 24, for information about our property inspection franchise opportunities.

What You Need to Know Before Signing a Franchise Agreement

IMG_1300When you decide to become an entrepreneur, making the investment in your financial future can be a big decision. Your thought process should be thorough and precise before you make the final choice about how you will invest your money and time. Some people may choose to start their own businesses and create their own business models through trial and error. They feel ambitious and confident enough to do it all on their own.

Other business-savvy individuals choose to take what they feel is a safer, more secure approach to starting a business. They believe that a franchise is the best decision for them, as the business model is already in place and proven, and the company already has brand recognition.

Once you have decided to become a part of a franchise system, you should be aware of some things and make some considerations:

  • Understand the franchise agreement. The franchise agreement is the legally binding contract between you and the franchisor. Read this document carefully and make sure you understand every statement in it. The franchise agreement specifies the obligations, responsibilities and rights of both you and the franchisor, and it outlines actions that you and franchisor are prohibited from engaging in. Both you and the franchisor must sign the franchise agreement. If there is anything in the franchise agreement that you do not understand or do not totally agree with, then you shouldn’t just sign on the dotted line thinking it will work itself out in the future. It probably won’t.
  • Respect the franchisor’s supervision. Although you may not have an onsite supervisor for your franchise, being a part of a franchise means you must abide by the franchisor’s rules and protocols. If you don’t like taking direction from someone else, then you may want to reconsider becoming part of a franchise. A reputable franchise has proven methods and models for success, and the franchisor will stand by those — after all, they have succeeded based on the processes that work.
  • Obtain legal advice. It may wise to hire a franchise attorney for your own protection. An attorney can explain the entire agreement to you and possibly renegotiate terms that you may be concerned about or want to amend before you sign and are legally bound to the franchisor.
  • Investigate the opportunity thoroughly. Learn how much money you will need and the support and training that is available for you once you purchase the franchise. Make sure you like what the franchisor offers, and research the franchisor’s reputation. Ask lots of questions:
    • Will you have an exclusive area to provide your services?
    • Will you have minimum sales numbers to meet?
    • Can you get out of the agreement, and what would that entail?

Investing in a franchise can be the best business decision for you to get your business running. Just be sure to take the necessary steps so you know the legalities you could potentially encounter, the franchisor’s expectations and reputation, and the market for the franchise. Finding answers to your questions or concerns ahead of time can save you time and energy. Besides, a legitimate, reputable franchisor would not want you to enter into an agreement with them with doubts. Your success and confidence is a reflection on them.

Choosing the Right Franchisor

IMG_1108Do you find yourself thinking that you are just not where you want to be in life? Maybe your daily work routine is too monotonous and you need to do something else. Or have you come to the conclusion that you really want to make an investment in your life, to discover and flourish your own potential?

You’ve likely spent many years working for someone else, and you have gained a lot of business knowledge. After all the years of working 8 to 5, you want to become your own boss. You want to start a business.

Maybe you’ve decided the field you want to work in and you have the investment money you need to get your business going. You are confident the in the direction that you are going, and you have decided to purchase a franchise. With a franchise system, you’ll get brand recognition and the training you need. You’ll receive proven and tested business, sales and marketing plans, and you’ll have support from the franchisor’s home-office team. You understand the advantages of becoming a franchisee and all of the resources available to you.

The final step is choosing the right franchisor. You should know what to look for when choosing a franchisor. Here is some key information to seek when considering the purchase of a franchise:

Supply vs. Demand — Inquire about the market for the franchisor’s services or products, and find out how many people really need the service. Research competitors in your market. Ask the franchisor why and how their franchise stands above its competitors.

Track Record — Learn about the company — how long it has been operating, and how it survived economic recessions. This information may be indicative of business strategies and the market demand under any given circumstances.

Technology — What types of technology do the franchisees use and how does the technology compare to that of competitors? What are key differentiators in services or products for marketing and customer service? The quality of the technology may also indicate financial stability of the franchisor.

Education — Does the franchisor provide thorough training and continuous support and assistance if needed?

Franchisee Selection — Is the franchisor selective as to who they choose to become part of their company? Requiring certain criteria or qualifications is beneficial and necessary. If you are trying to protect your investment, the franchisor should be trying to do the same.

Franchisees — Franchisors want franchisees who show the most promise. Most franchisors will look at the big picture when selecting new franchisees so everyone in the company benefits. Be flattered that a franchisor wants to get to know you and asks for information about you. Likewise, the franchisor should provide you with contact information for franchisees who can help answer questions you may have.

Corporate Office — How does the franchisor’s corporate office assist you when you have a problem or need? Whether it’s a marketing matter or something to do with accounting, will they help you? What is the turnaround time for your issue to be addressed and resolved? These could be questions you ask of current franchisees.

Royalties and Legalities — This area is one you must inquire about with the franchisor. Any fees or legalities should be clear and concise, well-documented, and upfront before you sign on the dotted line. You should not be pressured or misled. You should be given time to review all information and take precautionary steps before closing the deal.

Integrity — A franchisor’s integrity will come into play in all areas of your business. Make sure your franchisor has proven integrity by all means of business. Check with current franchisees to find out about a franchisor’s integrity.

What to Know Before You Buy a Franchise

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You made your decision and have evaluated the franchise you want to purchase. You are ready to make the investment and complete the required training to start your business. Before you make a final commitment, you should check out two things: the FTC and the FDD. Let’s look at what each of these acronyms stand for and what they mean to your business.

  • U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC): The FTC’s mission is “to prevent business practices that are anticompetitive or deceptive or unfair to consumers; to enhance informed consumer choice and public understanding of the competitive process; and to accomplish this without unduly burdening legitimate business activity.”
  • Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD): The FDD is a legal document that the FTC requires franchisors to provide to franchise candidates. The prospective franchise owner must receive the FDD at least 14 days prior to purchasing the franchise. An FDD is intended to give candidates the information they need to make a wise decision about whether to buy the franchise.

The FTC more or less provides legal guidelines that a franchisor must follow in order to protect both consumers and franchisors. FTC guidelines are designed to promote integrity for both franchisors and franchisees, and the information is upfront, clear and concise.

However, a franchisor’s FDD may be lengthy and contain legal descriptions that a potential franchisee needs clarified. With the FDD, both parties are protected, as all information is documented and available before closing the deal — there are no verbal agreements that may prove to be worthless for the prospective franchisee.

The franchisor’s information in the FDD is accurate and legally binding for both parties. In the event that you are not comfortable with the FDD, you could hire an attorney to provide you with the legalities and commitments written in the document. It would be good practice to review with a qualified franchise attorney regardless of how comfortable that you are with the agreement.

The FDD is an important part of your business venture. It provides the rules and regulations that must be followed, as well as information that you may not be able to easily obtain on your own. Some types of information that you will find in the FDD:

  • Industry trends
  • Competition
  • Advertising costs
  • Current and former franchisees
  • Territory
  • Renewal and termination
  • Royalties
  • Financial statements
  • Obligations

Most of the time, franchisors have worked hard and succeeded with a proven business model and they have prospered. They will have in criteria in place to which franchisees must adhere to, or else you may not be eligible to continue to do business with and for the franchisor.

When Choosing a Franchisor, Consider These Things

By Roland Bates, President, NPI/GPI

Roland_101614National Property Inspections and Global Property Inspections have been training and supporting franchise owners for a long time — nearly 30 years — and we always have our ears open as to what our competitors in the property inspection franchising industry are doing. We also pay attention to what other franchisors are doing in other industries. We realize that if our competitors are doing something right, then we can learn from that. And, if they are doing something wrong, we can learn from that, as well.

I believe that our competitors make us better. It’s like running a 100-meter race: You don’t know how fast you are until you have an opponent. But when I say “race,” I don’t mean that it’s a literal race to see how many franchises you can sell or how fast you can sell them. In fact, I think that is one of the biggest mistakes a franchisor can make.

I cringe when I hear, “the fastest-growing” anything. I think most of our property inspection franchise competitors are good in one way or another, and we all make each other better. On occasion, however, I have been shocked and saddened to learn how little training and support some franchisors in other industries have provided to their franchisees. We franchisors live on royalties; thus, it behooves us to give our franchisees the best training and support we can. Not only is it the right thing to do, it’s just good business.

At NPI and GPI, we must provide the classroom and field training necessary for our franchisees to obtain their home inspector licenses. But it doesn’t matter if they are great inspectors if they don’t know how to make the phone ring. In addition to all of the technical training, we have our own unique way of teaching franchise owners the business of property inspection from beginning to end. Yes, our franchise owners need to know and understand the technical side of home inspection, but managing and marketing their businesses effectively is just as important.

In our minds, support from a franchisor shouldn’t end when a franchisee heads home — that’s when it begins. We take pride in the way we do things, and it works for us. So, I’d like to give a quick shout-out to all franchisors and business opportunity providers: Don’t forget that your franchisees have paid you a huge compliment by showing faith in you (and probably writing you a check), so please provide them with the best training and support you can. Then, everyone wins.

Teach Yourself to Think Differently

By Roland Bates, President, NPI/GPI

NPI Inspector2We have to think and make many conscious decisions every day, even if it’s deciding what color socks to wear or what to have for dinner. The question I pose is this: Can we teach ourselves to think from a business perspective of solving problems and coming up with great ideas?

As a franchisee, every time you make a business decision, you will become better at running your franchise and thinking like a business owner. As you probably know, it’s always better to use sound reasoning and the voice of experience to avoid painful mistakes. Sometimes you’ll know just what to do when a problem arises, based on your past experience. Other times, though, you’ll be stuck. That is one of the advantages to owning a franchise.

Franchisors track what has worked for franchisees, as well as what didn’t work for others. They experiment with different marketing and business strategies. Although you will do a lot of your own thinking when you own a franchise, you should still follow your franchisor’s business model — they know what works. Furthermore, for most issues you’ll encounter relative to your business, your franchisor likely has experience and has helped other franchisees resolve the same or similar issues before. When you learn to use your franchisor as a resource, you’ll be able to spend more time working on your business and not quite as much working in your business.

A business owner or franchisee needs the ability to think and focus intently. But for my two cents, rather than forcing ourselves to think, we should let ourselves think. Some of your best ideas will just come to you if when you least expect them.

 

National Property Inspections, Inc.: The Genesis of a Franchise Business

By Roland Bates, President, NPI/GPI

Roland_101614New franchisees oftentimes ask me how I first started National Property Inspections, Inc. Hopefully the following information will be helpful for anyone thinking of starting any type of business and certainly to someone thinking about franchising their business.

Just to preface things a little, when I first started this business there were not a lot of property inspections being done, and selling property inspection franchisees was rare indeed.  I was, in fact, doing inspections at the time, and being an entrepreneur at heart, I had a strong sense that the property inspection business was poised to take off. It’s a maxim that you have to spend money to make money. And sometimes you have to spend a lot of money on research so you don’t blow a lot more money on a bad idea. One last preface: I thought the property inspection business held a lot of promise, so I wanted to take it to another level by franchising it.

I went to a marketing and public relations firm here in Omaha. I told them I thought that I was on to something with the property inspection business and shared with them what I was thinking. But I first needed something a little more scientific to go on. Four weeks and several thousand dollars later, the agency came back to me with a study that more or less said, “No guarantees but we, too, think you are on to something.” (They were kind enough to accept cash, check or money order.)

Now I more or less had my instincts confirmed, but I felt I needed one more test. I ran a rather expensive ad in a national newspaper, which said, “Property Inspection Franchise … call for more information.” I received enough phone calls to convince myself that I could go forward. I spent money to make money, but the other side of that is I ultimately spent money to confirm that I had a high probability of success. And in business, that’s all you can hope for.

Now, for anyone who might actually be considering franchising their business: There’s a lot more involved with franchise attorneys, developing training and support programs, and the like. Make sure you have a business model that you can duplicate, as well as that you will, in fact, be adding value to the franchisees for becoming part of your program. Think it through, do your homework and spend money on research. Good luck.

What Makes a Successful Franchisee?

By Roland Bates, President, NPI/GPI

Real estate agent on cell phone uid 4It’s hard to quantify everything that’s important in a successful franchisee — for example intelligence, providing quality service, having a positive attitude and sincerely wanting to help people. However, if these attributes are not present, then it’s just a matter of time before a drop in sales is inevitable. And, of course, sales are quantifiable — just ask the IRS.

A number of years ago, NPI/GPI used sales figures and as best we could, some unquantifiable traits to identify our top 25 franchisees. Once identified, we asked each of them to take a personality/aptitude evaluation. For the sake of brevity, I will talk only about personality. In a lot of ways the inspection business is a public relations business. Thus, you would think these 25 most-successful franchisees would all be extroverts. That was not the case at all. Perhaps 15 were extroverted, but the other 10 had the skills and self-confidence not only to conduct a good inspection but also to communicate their findings. And, the 10 slightly introverted franchisees learned the sales skills to book the inspection when they got the call.

In short, what makes a good franchisee? Intelligent, honest and hardworking are good places to start. Add in a willingness to learn new tricks. The Internet, computers, software, websites and social media are all important to our business, and they are forever changing. The last two points I would add for success are an appreciation of being part of something bigger and a willingness to tweak and work a proven business model.

What Does It Take To Become a Successful Franchise?

Inspector + Electrical10If you’re interested in starting your own business, you may decide that a franchise is the way to go. After all, why reinvent the wheel when franchisors have proven marketing and business plans and methods?

Sometimes a franchise concept is just not designed for success. Other times franchisees may choose poor locations for their businesses. Yet, the biggest factor in the success of your franchise is you, the franchise owner. Here are 10 franchising tips from FranDevelop Consulting that will help you avoid pitfalls and flourish with your business. To read the full article, click here.

  1. Choose the right business for you.
  2. Improve your business skills.
  3. Follow the system.
  4. Have a business plan.
  5. Play well with others.
  6. Take control.
  7. Never stop marketing.
  8. Avoid credit cards.
  9. Learn your industry.