The ABC’s of Franchising

Do you know your franchise industry ABC’s? 


A is for Autonomous — Why did you want to become a franchisee in the first place? More than likely it was because you wanted to be your own boss. Who doesn’t crave more autonomy at work?

B is for Blue Mau Mau — If you’re looking for the best original and curated content, press releases and articles on franchising, business opportunities and small businesses, Blue Mau Mau is the place to go.


C is for Crowdfunding — Funding remains a challenge for all entrepreneurs, not just those who are hoping to open a franchise. New legislation is sure to help crowdfunding’s popularity as a way to raise capital.


D is for Discovery Day — One of the most important days for a potential franchisee is discovery day. While each concept’s discovery day is a bit different, it normally includes a visit to the franchise’s headquarters, a sit down with the development team and often a meeting with the franchisor. Often, the franchise discovery day is the last stop before you sign on the dotted line and become a franchisee.

E is for EntrepreneurEntrepreneur magazine has long celebrated franchising with its “Franchise 500”, their annual ranking of the industry’s top franchise concepts. The magazine also features a franchising section and often covers topics pertaining to the industry on its website.


F is for FDD — The franchise disclosure document (FDD) sounds just like what it is: a legal document that discloses the major facts and figures that make up each particular franchise concept to a prospective buyer. The FDD is intended to provide potential franchisees with enough detailed information to make educated decisions about a possible franchise investment.


G is for Growth — Growth despite economic challenges and uncertainty has become a hallmark of the franchise industry. Despite the woes experienced by many during the Great Recession, the franchise industry recovered well. The IFA expects the number of franchise establishments to grow by 1.4 percent in 2013.



H is for Healthcare — As the Affordable Care Act became law in 2012, the franchise industry took to the podium to speak out against the potential damages of the healthcare overhaul on small businesses. Many franchisors, including Papa John’s CEO, John Schnatter and Catherine Monson of FASTSIGNS have spoken out against President Obama’s healthcare reforms.


I is for IFA — The International Franchise Association (IFA) is the world’s largest and oldest organization representing franchising worldwide. It acts in the best interest of the franchising industry to promote, protect and enhance the franchise industry through policy, PR, and education.


J is for Jobs— No, not Steve Jobs, although we’re sure he’d appreciate the economic fortitude that is the franchising industry. According to the IFA, The franchising community provides nearly 18 million jobs!

K is for KingJoel Libava, aka “The Franchise King”, writes a phenomenal blog on all aspects of the franchising industry. His posts range from evaluations of franchising concepts, helping potential franchisees and issues the industry faces. Follow him on Twitter @franchiseking.


L is for Las Vegas — This year, the annual IFA Convention will be held in Las Vegas. The IFA’s annual convention allows for all members of the franchising community to congregate and connect. This year, Franchise Clique’s CEO David Schwarz will attend with his key managers as an “Entrepreneur of the Year” award nominee.


M is for Military — Military veterans have been welcomed profusely to franchising by franchisors and the IFA alike. The push to hire military veterans has been facilitated by websites like Veterans, VetFran and crowd funding platforms like Boost a Hero.

N is for Nation’s Restaurant News — This magazine delivers breaking news about the $600 billion food industry, including franchises. Since 1967, NRN has been covering trends, operators, suppliers and major figures in all areas of the food service industry.


O is for Operations — As a franchisee, a large part of your day deals with the day-to-day operations that make a franchise unit run smoothly. Luckily, those with varying degrees of business experience can count on their franchisor counterparts to lead the way. After all, one of the best parts about franchising is the proven track record and support provided to each franchisee by its franchisor.


P is for Portal — As the franchise industry picks up speed, leaving the Great Recession behind, portals have become an invaluable source of leads. Some, like Franchise Clique, Franchise Buy and Veterans Franchise, have begun call-verifying leads as franchise sales and development teams field an increasing number of inquiries.


Q is for Quick-Casual — If you didn’t catch our recent post on food costs and the franchising industry, you missed out on a short and sweet explanation of how food franchises continue to grow despite rising food, oil and transportation costs. The real winner in the food franchise category? Quick-casual restaurants, which are predicted to grow 1.7 percent in 2013, the third largest growth percentage according to the IFA. Also, quick-casual restaurant franchises make up two-thirds of all food related franchise establishments.


R is for Restaurants — When you think of franchising the golden arches and drive-thrus probably spring to mind first. It’s no wonder, considering food franchise establishments comprise 33 percent of all franchise establishments.

S is for Steve Caldeira — Stephen J. Caldeira is the President & CEO of the International Franchise Association. As the President and CEO, Caldeira works with the IFA’s board to set the course for the organization’s strategic priorities: policy, research, education, PR, and various development programs. Mr. Caldeira has 30 years of government relations, political communications, fundraising and professional development experience. Prior to his current position, Caldeira served as the Executive Vice President of Global Communications & Chief Public Affairs Officer for Dunkin’ Brands, Inc.


T is for Trillion — Yes, that’s trillion with a “T”! The franchise community represents $2.1 trillion of economic output just for the U.S. economy.


U is for Understanding — Let’s talk it out. No, really. When you’re deciding which franchise to buy, it’s important to do your research, ask questions and find out all you can about the concepts that interest you before taking the next steps. A franchise is a long-term business investment


V is for Vision — If the franchising industry were a word it would be “expansion.” Beyond the U.S. and Canada lies opportunity– and the franchise industry knows it. More and more brands are expanding their vision to Africa, Asia, Australia, South America, Europe and the Middle East.


W is for Work — Despite the autonomy inherent in becoming a franchisee, there’s also a lot of hard work. Ask any small business owner and they’ll tell you how much they wish there were more than 24 hours in a day.


X is for Xenophile — Now that’s an SAT word! As far as we’re concerned, one of the very best things about the franchise industry is its acceptance of other cultures. Whether it’s a franchisee expanding outside of the U.S. or the birth of a new food franchise celebrating a cuisine that’s not quite mainstream yet, the franchise industry makes a point to bring “new” and “different” to the masses.

Y is for Yogurt — How many frozen yogurt places can you count driving through your city or town? The frozen yogurt franchise craze, which hasn’t cooled yet, has been going strong for years. Though it’s not the oldest type of franchise concept in the industry, it’s certainly one that’s made other consider franchising as a viable means of making a living.


Z is for Zany— As of late,new franchise concepts have gotten creative and outright zany! Nail art vending machines, make your own sushi franchises and dog walkers have become incredibly popular. What could be next?

FASTSIGNS, Fast Growth?


When traveling, it’s best to have a guide: someone who knows the best places to eat, the best sites to see, and, perhaps most importantly, the safest areas in town. When expanding your business, it’s best to have more than just a business plan. Catherine Monson speaks with experience when she says, “having a local [business] partner is important.”

Catherine Monson has served as chief executive officer of signs franchise FASTSIGNS for three years. When she was recruited to assume the role, the original founder was uninterested in expanding the concept internationally. Well, Monson was.


The fact of the matter is, as Catherine aptly points out, that “Businesses need signage.”


FASTSIGNS fills an obvious global need: businesses need signs to alert potential consumers that they exist. With the global economy expanding, especially in the Middle East, Asia, and South America, there’s a lot of opportunity for FASTSIGNS to grow quickly– except Catherine Monson isn’t really interested in rapid expansion.


“It’s very important to modify your business model to embrace the culture of where you’re expanding,” explains Monson. That’s why FASTSIGNS has a specific three-pronged expansion strategy.


First, when expanding, the signs franchise looks for international partners with a knowledge of the culture and business climate of the proposed expansion location. The partner can be the owner of an existing signage business or wishing to start from scratch. Either way, his or her knowledge is integral to FASTSIGNS’ steady and successful expansion plan.


Second, FASTSIGNS likes to convert existing independent sign stores into FASTSIGNS franchises, if they’re interested, of course. “We’re willing to expand anywhere we can help,” adds Catherine. For example, FASTSIGNS recently expanded in the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico thanks to three Puerto Rican business leaders who owned a sign store. Instead of coming in and siphoning business from existing independent business by establishing a new FASTSIGNS franchise, FASTSIGNS chose to approach existing businesses and business owners.This way, the business owners receive marketing support and brand recognition from FASTSIGNS (along with new technologies and materials) and FASTSIGNS goes into business with an established customer base and a knowledge of the local community.


Finally, occasionally FASTSIGNS expands the old fashioned franchise way: by selling a new location or territory. Just like every other option, there’s a lot of research that goes into building a new location.


When asked what she felt was the most important thing for franchises to consider when expanding internationally, Catherine Monson answered, “Spend a good amount of time really studying the culture, the labor market, and as a result, what might need to be different about your model.” By that she means, what works in the U.S. might not work elsewhere, like in Saudi Arabia. “I don’t think we’d be as successful [in Saudi Arabia] without having a Saudi partner.”


“If you fail,” she says, “you have a bad mark against you.” As a well-known brand in a hoping to expand in relatively unknown lands, that’s not a good sign. Fortunately for FASTSIGNS, with Catherine Monson at the helm I doubt there will be anything but all signs pointing to ‘go.’