Recession May Lead to Increased Franchise Interest

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Previous Economic Downturns Fueled Interest in Taking Control of Career and Family Futures through Franchise Ownership

Historically, we have seen that a prolonged economic downtown causes many individuals to think about going into business for themselves

If previous recessions are any indication, we may begin to see increased interest in entrepreneurship, including proven franchise opportunities. After completing exhaustive and unproductive job searches, many experienced managers will likely reach the conclusion that they will have to take control of their own destinies by going into business for themselves.

"Historically, we have seen that a prolonged economic downtown causes many individuals to think about going into business for themselves," said Chris Grandpre, president and CEO of Outdoor Living Brands, a Richmond, Va.-based franchise company focused on outdoor living products and services.

"Some of these individuals have completed exhaustive job searches and cannot find an appropriate position, while others are concerned about continuing layoffs. In both cases, these individuals are ready to gain greater control of their professional and personal lives by running their own businesses."

Starting a new business, of course, comes with substantial risks. One of the most common ways to reduce this risk is through franchising.

"Franchising offers a way to go into business for yourself, but not by yourself," Grandpre said. "Research sponsored by the International Franchise Association has shown that franchise businesses have a higher success rate that go-it-alone enterprises. You have a proven product or service, recognized brand name, training, technical support, operational systems and marketing infrastructure already in place. The key is first to determine if you are a good candidate for being a franchise business owner and, second, finding the right franchise opportunity for you."

Because the stakes are high in franchise recruitment - for both the franchisor and franchisee - the best franchise companies devote considerable resources to the franchise recruitment and evaluation processes. To make sure the fit is right for both parties,
Outdoor Living Brands has a highly disciplined method for each inquiry it receives for any of its three franchise opportunities - Archadeck, Outdoor Lighting Perspectives and Mosquito Squad.

All aspects of a potential new franchise relationship are covered during the Outdoor Living Brands' recruitment process, from the basic investment requirements and franchisee support to organizational skills, training and self-motivation. The company is highly selective and only a small percentage of franchise inquiries result in the launch of a new franchise location.

"When talking to potential franchisees, we discuss their careers, lifestyle objectives and the economic livelihoods of their families. This is a responsibility - a moral and ethical responsibility - that we do not take lightly," Grandpre said. "From the franchisor's perspective we must make the right choice because a franchise agreement is a long-term contract - somewhat similar to a partnership. If we don't make a good selection and the fit isn't right, then we will miss important growth opportunities in key markets over an extended period of time. Also, the candidate will be making a substantial investment of time, energy and capital so it is equally important that the fit is right from their perspective."

Some franchise opportunities require substantial investments in bricks and mortar, while others, such as those offered by Outdoor Living Brands, can be operated as home-based businesses, which greatly reduces initial investments, an important consideration in today's tight credit markets. Work schedules and time commitments also vary greatly from one franchise opportunity to another.

"Retail opportunities can be very time intensive and confining because you have to keep the 'store' open," Grandpre said. "Our franchisees enjoy greater flexibility in their schedules because the business model is based on appointments. The model is also ideal for couples who want to work jointly in the business with time commitments varying for each partner."

As with any new business agreement, the consideration process requires candor and due diligence on both sides.

"We are highly disciplined in our search to find the right franchise partners with the skills, talent, drive and ambition to be successful," Grandpre said. "When we make the right selection, nothing gives us greater satisfaction than watching our franchisees enjoy the success and lifestyle rewards of their business."

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Mark Brock

Amanda Williams

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