last updated 03/08/2021
Buying a mobile franchise
last updated 03/08/2021
Thinking of buying a mobile franchise or a man-in-a-van business? Here are some questions to ask
Some of the most popular franchises in recent years have been those which take their product or service out to their customers. They come in two forms: those that are mobile because they have to be (such as those which provide cleaning, courier or electrical services to homes and the workplace), and those that are mobile businesses which take a traditional product or service such as coffee, car tuning or carpet retailing to new customers.
Both offer the benefits of getting out and about rather than waiting for your customers to come to you, and the opportunity to build your customer base through referrals to neighbouring homes or businesses. There are no expensive premises, but you will need a properly-equipped vehicle. Of course, you’ll be working from home as well as your vehicle, so you’ll need to be organised as well as self-motivated to make the most of any opportunity.
When you’re looking for a mobile franchise, it’s important to do more than ask ‘How much does it cost?’ Do your research – we recommend putting in an hour of research for every $1000 that you plan to invest. Here are some questions to ask:
- How long will my working day be? Start and finish times? Are there ever emergency call-outs? How long will I spend on the road? With customers? Doing admin after hours?
- How physical is the work? Is it seasonal? Is it weather-dependent? What do I do in the down-time?
- Do I need to buy a vehicle or trailer? What kind? Need it be new? Do you have preferential leasing arrangements?
- Does the vehicle or trailer need to be specially signwritten? Does it require special equipment or fitting out? Is this included in the franchise cost?
- What space do I need at home for the vehicle? For stock or equipment not carried every day? What sort of home office space do I need?
- What is the advantage of being mobile in this particular industry?
- Do I have an exclusive territory? If business is good, can I divide it and sell off an area, or sell customers back to the franchisor, or sub-franchise, or employ staff and operate another van?
- Do I get an initial client base? Do I have to make sales calls? Do I quote for jobs myself? What help do I get to ensure I am doing this properly?
- How often do I get a visit from a field manager or the franchisor to help me stay on target? What other support is there? How often do franchisees get together?
- Is there an 0800 number? A call centre? A website/Facebook page? How are messages relayed to me? Do you schedule my work for me?
- What sort of technology is provided? How will it make my life easier? On-the-job quoting? Customer data management? Online accounting? Are all the systems integrated?
- Do I make out my own invoices? Is there a standard format for these? Do I follow up unpaid bills or is this handled through the franchisor?
While there are many good mobile franchise opportunities for sale, they are all different. Some offer work guarantees or income guarantees, but you need to be clear on what’s really guaranteed. Before making your decision, you should consult a lawyer specialising in franchises. You’ll also want to know how much you can make from a mobile business so consult a financial advisor or accountant experienced in franchising.
Remember, whatever type of business you buy, it will be hard work at first so choose something you will enjoy. That way, both you and your customers will be happy.
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