Roadmap to Opening a Franchise

Opening a franchise business is not for the faint of heart. It is indeed a family decision that requires a great deal of preparation, planning, and self-evaluation.

The entrepreneurial process requires that you evaluate the decision personally, sociologically, organizationally and environmentally.

Roadmap to Opening a Franchise

Personal Evaluation

  • Level of Achievement – Degree of commitment – Entrepreneurs have a higher degree of involvement.
  • Risk tolerance – Loss of job = loss of control
  • Risk-taking
  • Personal values – Age consideration
  • Experience – Do you have the right stuff to be an entrepreneur? Do you procrastinate or are you decisive? Are you dedicated to a project when you decide to move forward?
  • The devil resides in the details. If you’re thinking about starting a franchise or new business, you better be detail oriented.

Sociological

  • Family – Sacrifice & Commitment
  • Children – Loss of time with kids
  • Role Models – Mentors & Vision

Organizational

  • Franchise vs. Business Opportunity
  • Strategy – Benefits of franchise prototype vs. trial and error
  • Structure – Franchise or New Business
  • Product or Service-based

Environmental

  • Competition – Competitors in your local market
  • Customers
  • Suppliers – Franchise vs. New business
  • Resources – Bankers, lawyers, investors, friends, and family

Research

The franchise universe is made up of thousands of franchise systems inside hundreds of industries. Are you the perfect entrepreneur for a food franchise or quick-casual restaurant? Do you see yourself in a retail setting selling products or services or are you more comfortable in a service based business managing a team of skilled workers?

Whatever franchise business you choose, you will need to spend hours upon hours researching and evaluating the investment merit of the franchise opportunity.

It all starts with an inquiry orchestrated from a franchise web portal or a keyword search in Google, Bing or Yahoo. It may come from a referral from a business associate or a Facebook ad promoting a particular franchise for sale. Either way, validate your decision with research.

Discovery Day

You may find your self-attending several discovery days for different franchise opportunities. A discovery day is an up close and personal meeting with the franchisor team. The very people you will be dealing with on a daily basis if you decide to buy a franchise. Typically, discovery day is held at the company’s corporate office and may take more than one day. Sometimes, the franchise will pay part or all of your expenses to attend their Discovery Day.

Evaluating Financial Performance

If your early communications with the franchisor indicate that you may be a good fit, they will ask you to complete a Request For Consideration or Franchise Application. If you decide to do that, they will send you a copy of the Franchise Disclosure Document or FDD. Here you will find virtually all the information you will need to validate a smart choice in franchising.

Item 19, Financial Performance, may itemize financial performance for company units or a specific number of franchisee units depending on maturity.

The best resource for determining financial performance is to talk with current franchisees. The FDD will include names and telephone numbers of current and even former franchisees.

Choose a Franchise and Arrange for Funding

At this point, you have decided on the franchise business for you. To secure funding, you will need a business plan. Your outline should include an executive summary, industry, customer and competitor analysis, company and product description, marketing plan, operations plan, development plan, risks and the financial plan.

Sign the Agreement

My recommendation would be to seek counsel from a franchise attorney to ensure that negotiations are all above board.

Hire your team and attend training

The size of your team will depend on the franchise that you have chosen. Sometimes, the franchisor will train additional members of your team at no cost and sometimes they may charge an additional fee.

Open Your Franchise

The franchisor will assist with the Grand Opening of your franchise business. You want to alert the customer base in your territory that you are open for business with signage, promotional ads and other marketing initiatives.

Why Travel Agency Franchise Owners Need Training and Support

Being a travel agent is enticing to many because of the fringe benefits of travel discounts and opportunities to see the world. Owning a franchise can be exciting and overwhelming at the same time. As a travel agency franchise owner there is specific training, education, and certification that will help you reach your future business goals. Making the investment of proper training in the beginning of your franchise ownership will pay dividends with the high quality of service you are able to offer, giving you an edge over your competition.

Dream Vacations Franchise

To be profitable you will need to make several bookings, not just a few a week. The only way you can be successful is through proper training and experience so that you can meet your customer’s needs quickly and smoothly. This kind of operational success requires proper training.

A Travel Agent’s Expertise
As a travel agent, you will need to be aware of all the details involved with travel that your customers may not be aware of. In order to be empathetic and give your customers the best service, you cannot be consumed with the menial semantics of running your business. Here are some of the details you and your staff need to be experts in as members of your agency:

Booking and reservation operational procedures

  • Local, domestic, and international travel laws and restrictions
  • Geography
  • Making reservations
  • Completing payments within your reservation system
  • Weather-related travel advisories
  • Policies with specific airlines
  • Stay abreast of the global political climate

Marketing

You will start branding and earning the reputation of your franchise the first day you open your doors. Be sure the impression you leave your customers is a positive one that sticks. Referrals will be your strongest future customers, and your customer service will need to be uncommonly superior to set your agency apart from the rest. Travel agent training programs cover what you need to know to successfully market your new business. Your enthusiasm will fuel your success!

Necessary Licenses and Certifications

In the United States, there is not a formalized process required by law for becoming a travel agent. There isn’t a minimum level of education or certification to qualify a person to be a travel agent or own their own agency. This leads to agents in the industry with many differing levels of skills and expertise.

To set yourself apart you can seek out travel agent certification education through franchise ownership. Having a business that you own and becoming a licensed travel professional can give you an edge as a qualified, travel professional. Seeking out these certifications as continuing professional education is a worthy goal to maintain your expertise in the field of travel and tourism.

  • Travel Agent License
  • Specialty Certifications through your Franchise
  • Certified Travel Associate (CTA)
  • Certified Travel Counselor (CTC)
  • Certified Travel Industry Executive (CTIE)

Travel Education

College Degrees
You do not need a college degree in travel to be a travel agent, but it is helpful. In these degree programs, you not only learn about travel and tourism, but you learn about how to run a travel agency or other tourism business. This path of education is ideal for those who plan to run their own agency. College degrees in travel and tourism are typically available in Associates, Bachelors, and Masters degree programs. Some examples of those degrees are:

  • Hospitality Management
  • Tourism Management
  • Travel and Tourism Management

Training and Support
Aside from certifications and college degrees, there are training and support programs available to travel agency franchise owners. Dream Vacations offers full, affordable training for their franchise owners. And you’re automatically welcomed into a professional network of other travel agents just like you. When you work with Dream Vacations this is some of the training and support you will receive for your investment in your new franchise:

  • Franchise and travel licenses
  • 6-day training at our world headquarters
  • Award-winning marketing strategy
  • Affiliation with World Travel Holdings
  • Support from a corporate team available by phone, email, and chat 6 days a week
  • And so much more!

Professional Networking
Connecting with other travel agents will allow you to have a network of support. The more support you have, the more successful you will be! Ask questions when you need help with customer needs, learn from the successes and failures of others.

Travel is a hospitality industry business, and as such you will need to meet your customer’s needs with superior service. Your ability to grow your travel agency franchise is up to how well you maintain your professional training and passionately exceed your customer’s’ expectations. Contact us at Dream Vacations to see what training and support we can offer your travel agency franchise today!

Best Ways to Research Before Buying a Franchise

Buying a franchise is a big decision. Since this decision will be one of the largest you will most likely ever make, you will want to consider the fact that a successful franchise, with a proven record of success, could serve as a shortcut towards creating the successful business you desire. Buying a franchise is like investing in a top performing stock that has continuously held its value for decades.

Buying a Franchise

When you buy a franchise, you’ll want to have a plan. It starts with commitment, then budget and lastly you must have the support from your family. Sit down at the kitchen table and have a family meeting to discuss the changes that will take place if all of you commit to starting your own business. Buying a new business means you will be putting in a lot of hours. You may not have time for children’s sporting events or even vacations. In the beginning, the business will have to come first.

If you can all agree to the sacrifices that will take place, you need to do everything you can to make a smart choice in franchising. Know who you are. Dig deep to understand the type of work that brings out the best in you. If you choose a franchise and learn later you’re not passionate about going to work every day, you have a problem.

Researching you, is just as important as due diligence on the franchise opportunity. Get up close and personal with you and be sure you know what you’re getting into.

One of the single most important aspects of any venture is preparing and gathering information. At this stage, you’ve completed your personal evaluation and have weighed your franchise options. Whether you have decided to validate service based franchises or cheap franchises or a high-value food franchise, you’ll want to compare business models and look for patterns of success over time. Bottom line, once you know what you want, you need to compare all your options and begin a deep dive into each franchise system you want to validate. Below are the best ways to research before buying a franchise.

1. The Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD)

Initially, you will have a series of communications with each franchise system you’re talking to. They will be aggressive in their demands of your time so be prepared. They are eager to learn if you’re a good fit for their franchise business. If you are, they are essentially recruiting you and are not concerned with the other franchise opportunities you’re considering.

Take your time and stick to the schedule you and your family have agreed upon. Don’t let them make you go faster than you’re willing to go. Do not let them pressure you into making a decision.

If you’re interested in moving forward with a franchise, ask to receive the Franchise Disclosure Document. This is a one-hundred plus page document that serves as the basis for the Franchise Agreement.

If you’re really serious about this franchise opportunity, hire a franchise attorney or a CPA to assist with your validation of this franchise. They will start with the FDD and consult you on the pros and cons of the investment.

2. Know the Success Rate

Item 19 of the FDD is all about Financial Information. Here you will find franchisee performance data over time. Not all franchise systems choose to share historical financial performance but if they do, take advantage of it.

The best source of information regarding franchisee success will come from current franchisees. The FDD will provide you a list of current franchisees including contact information. Contact franchise owners with similar demographics to where you live and contact all franchise owners that will have territories adjacent to where you want to operate your business.

3. Visit Existing Franchises

If applicable, another place to start is visiting other existing franchises to see how they operate. Try to arrange a meeting with the owners. Get their feedback on if they think the franchise is a good opportunity. It is in your best interest to visit as many franchises as possible. This will help you gather a wealth of information before buying a franchise.

After you have taken these steps you will have gathered information on a specific franchise. This will generate some new questions that you may want to ask the franchisor. You may want to look elsewhere if you feel that you are not being given straight answers.

4. Discovery Day

If you’re invited to Discovery Day know that the franchisor will want to close the sale on that day. Discovery Day is held at franchise headquarters and is designed to convince you to move forward with their opportunity.

Don’t get overly enthusiastic in this process. In fact, you may find yourself attending more than one Discovery Day for other franchises as well. Your goal is to get to know the people you would be working with on a daily basis. Do you like them? Are they supportive of your franchise goals? Is what they’re saying true to the Franchise Disclosure Document?

Everyone there will be part of your team. So, make sure the management team and the operations team and the people involved with your training and ongoing support are people you can work with for the next ten years.

The main thing to keep in mind here is to keep your brain on and think. With the larger brand names, buying a franchise can be seductive. Remember to research. Carefully think through every aspect of the buying process. Use these research ideas to get you going in the right direction.

What to Expect Your First Few Months of Owning a Travel Franchise

Booking a trip has become both easier and vastly more complicated because of the internet. While most people have no problem navigating websites and flight schedules, they face literally millions of options when they run a simple Google search. This barrage of information can leave a lot of doubt as far as finding the best deal, understanding terms and conditions, and being surprised by hidden fees. This is why the travel agency industry has remained stable despite the growth of the internet. But for those who are just starting out as travel agency franchise owners, what can you expect the first few months of business to look like?

Hands-on Work
The life of a franchise owner includes hard work and seemingly endless tasks. From managing the finances and paperwork, making marketing and advertising decisions, providing superior customer service, and also networking with other professionals and experts in the industry, your job title basically encompasses every duty needed to run your operation. Delegation doesn’t happen until you’ve built your franchise up, established yourself in the market, and had consistent, measurable success.

Once you’ve learned the ropes, gone from apprentice to master, and built a considerable customer base, then you can consider bringing others on board. But many travel franchise owners have no problem getting into a routine and working by themselves or with a spouse or partner, enjoying all of the rewards for their hard work and dedication.

Working From Home
Keeping costs at a minimum is important, especially in the early stages of operating a franchise. This is why home-based travel franchising is attractive—it can be done from home. Without the overhead that comes with an office, you’ll save a substantial amount of money. As long as you have a fast, reliable internet connection and access to all the technology you’ll need, you’ll have no problem working with clients and travel companies over the phone and through email. Even from home, you may have clients who wish to meet with you in-person, but it doesn’t take much effort to set up a comfortable, professional home office suitable for meeting with clients.

Finding your niche
Although you’ve done considerable research before you became a franchise owner, your learning is not over now that you’re officially in the industry. On the contrary, trends are always changing and in order to remain successful, and you need to remain relevant.

You may consider becoming an expert in a particular area of travel that is appealing to the demographic you’d like to attract. Perhaps it’s a particular destination, such as Alaska, or a particular hobby, such as snorkeling. People often travel based on these preferences, your franchise can help you do some research to find what is trending and how you can brand yourself as an expert in a niche that will work for you and your business.

Getting Certified
Professional certifications help establish yourself as an expert and show your clients that you’re serious about your profession. You can also gain access to offers, deals, and information only available to certified professionals through various organizations. While it’s not always a requirement to become certified, it will help you stay competitive and relevant. A certification through an organization such as the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) is a good certification to obtain. Plus, as part of your training experience with your travel franchise you’ll have the opportunity to earn certifications.

Skills to Develop
People from all walks of life become successful travel agents. However, many of them share certain characteristics that make them successful. Knowledge of the travel industry is a must, of course – and your travel franchise will train you so you can hit the ground running. Customer service skills are also absolutely essential, as your entire job depends on your ability to connect with and sell to customers. Experience in business is important, but can also be obtained as you go through your initial and ongoing franchise training. And of course, your own business experiences will be the best chances at learning.

Understanding other aspects of the travel industry is also important, as your clients will come to you for advice for other parts of their trip. Travel insurance, ground transportation, currency conversion, and many other small details will become important to know about and knowledge of these subjects will show your customers that you truly are a travel expert.

Contact us to discuss travel ownership at Dream Vacations.