Buying a cleaning service franchise: Worth the money?
A lot of us dream about getting into our own business. But it can be a risky affair, both financially and emotionally. It is important to find ways to reduce the fear that your new enterprise just might not make it. Most of us try to eliminate the unacceptable risks right from the get-go. This is one reason franchises have been popular. But is buying a franchise actually going to keep you from taking risks? The answer might surprise you.
Buying a cleaning-company franchise may have been the answer to an entrepreneur's dream in decades past. Without the resources and support offered by a well-known company, a person opening their own small business would have been like David vs. Goliath, up against the giants. A franchise in those days offered a port in the storm, the safety of a large well-branded name behind the mom-and-pop, who wanted a little slice of the pie. And for the resources they supplied, the franchise exacted a healthy sum from mom-and-pop. The parent company was designed to succeed even on the backs of those who bought into the franchise and worked diligently. And because the franchisee had a lock on the resources, the franchisers, the little Davids, were limited and capped by whatever rules the franchisee wanted to lay down.
But as technology evolved, the Internet emerged as a game-changer for everyone. Even Goliath.
The resources once available only for a fee, are now available for those who understand how to find them. In the past, money was required as a passport to starting up a small business. The fees charged by franchises were, and still are, exorbitant. But some people still assume that because a franchise has a brand name and will, for a price, sell them a list of “pre-qualified” customers, they mitigate those unacceptable risks of starting up a business.
Let's look at the facts to see how this argument holds up.
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What a franchise provides for ~ $10,000.
Brand name – but no guarantee that the brand name will hold up under scrutiny
List of pre-qualified clients – but no guarantee that those clients will hire you
Marketing materials - but those are easy to get these days online
What a small business consulting firm provides for ~ $500.
An overview of the industry
Business systems to use
Software to use
How to brand your name locally
How to make your own marketing materials
So what is the extra $9,500 for? Good question! Oh yes, and the franchise will take a percentage of your profits for years into the future.
Just as many potential clients do not like national franchises as do, so is the "brand" really a draw? It's a wash. Conservative worldview people tend to favor franchised branded businesses, and liberal worldview people tend to favor small local businesses.
What the franchises really sell you on is fear! Fear of failure, which is a healthy and sort of unavoidable fear to have. But do they provide you with courage to overcome that fear? No. Do they actually provide an advantage over the start-up entrepreneur who has the drive to use direct online consulting and self-implementing business systems? In the 1980s, yes, definitely. But today? Doubtful!