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The perils of the comfort zone and when buying a franchise and how to avoid it.

Updated: May 16, 2023

Most people want a reasonable work-life balance and very few remain passionately focused on building their business for their entire working life. How this applies when selecting a franchise is simple.

If a franchisee joins a brand while the passion and drive of the leader of the business is high, there is a good chance that they will receive plenty of support. The franchisor will be continually looking for new ways to grow the business, investing in new technology and finding new customers. The largest possible advertising and promotion budget will be available. This is great news for the franchisees of the business.

Sadly, over time, things can change. Many founders eventually become complacent, play more golf and take increasingly frequent holidays. As his or her passion for the business diminishes so will the level of investment in the future. Contact with the franchisees will decline as will the general momentum of the business. This is all very bad news for the franchisees. Particularly newly recruited ones who haven’t enjoyed the good times in years gone by.  

For a prospective franchisee this situation is hard to detect in its early stages. The franchise under consideration is well established. Existing franchisees are doing well and when asked offer positive feedback because they haven’t yet experienced the full effect of the decline that will soon begin to overtake the businesses. 

So, what are the danger signals? A franchise that continues to be run by an elderly founder, the lack of a strong management team and a declining advertising budget are three obvious clues. A less obvious warning sign is if the senior figure in the day to day management of the business has an overseas holiday home.

This not an exact science. There are a few excellent franchises that continue to be driven vigorously by their elderly founders and some do have holiday homes in exotic places. But are they intending to sell the business to venture capitalists! Sacré bleu! That could be even worse. (which is another story for another day)

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