THINKING OUTSIDE THE BOX: TAKING YOUR FRANCHISE DREAM MOBILE

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George Knauf

Mobile is not just for phones, it could also be how you pursue your dreams of independence, control, freedom and financial autonomy.

There is no requirement that a successful business has to be based in a retail site. There are many different approaches for providing services, goods and even food via mobile operations. The key is knowing what you want, what fits your skills and working preferences as well as what your goals are.

Let’s assume you have built a solid model outlining the parameters of your perfect business. If you don’t know how to do that, feel free to contact me and I will walk you through it. Use that model as the first check of any concept you screen.

After that you would be best served setting preconceptions aside and focusing on building a good knowledge base on a number of companies.

Interesting aspects of Mobile franchises:

• Most mobile franchises have a lower cost of start-up and operations than what we might see in a traditional brick and mortar business. The cost of a vehicle is less than the cost of a lease and build out of a retail location.

Most don’t carry the same staffing levels or overheads.

• Speed to market is another big benefit mobile franchises take advantage of. Leasing a van or truck, wrapping it in a graphic package and loading it with tools, materials and samples can happen very quickly.

• Don’t wait for your customer to come to you, fire up that engine and go to them. In a mobile franchise you often have a protected territory with identifiable customers. If you don’t have a busy day you can supplement your marketing plan by going out to network or sell into new revenue.

• Variety in your day may be very different outside the box. You will be out and involved in your community, meeting new people, expanding existing relationships and seeing new things. Sunscreen in the summer and a jacket in the winter may be more called for than maybe the khakis and polo shirt in a retail setting.

One of the really interesting sides of mobile franchising is the evolution the business model has taken. In years past it would have been most common that this type of business model would have been an owner operator, a man in a van/truck.

Growth in that owner operator model may have been limited by the number of hours or the volume of customers that the man in the van could service.

Today, though, we see an expanded range of offerings. While the owner operator role still exists (and can be a great fit for some candidates) there are also executive and more absentee roles using the same mobile model.

More and more we are seeing franchisors in these systems creating business models catering to corporate executives and existing business owners that want to build multi vehicle fleets to service consumers or businesses.

These newer generations of mobile franchise owners are aiming to build large businesses where they are not the daily providers of services or goods. They are more likely to work out of a central office where their teams will come into the office and be dispatched to the day’s work.

Stepping out of the van gives these owners more flexibility and freedom to spend time with their families.

With this growth option, that owner operator may be now able to add new mobile units and grow an executive business over time. This creates an interesting opportunity if mobile franchises are attractive to a new owner

due to initial investment fund limitations.

Starting small does not mean you are limited in terms of growth potential. You can work towards creating any outcome you can envision.

Unique considerations:

• In this type of business you have to be self-motivated, there is no set location to report to every day and customers will not wander through the doors of your location in the local shopping center. While you may well have a robust marketing program there will be a component of growing your business that will be up to you going out and introducing yourself to prospective customers.

• Not only will you be chief relationship builder, head of sales and team leader, you will also be the technician if you are in an owner operator role. Make sure you will be comfortable wearing all of those hats. This may require comfort with both white collar and blue collar roles.

• As an owner operator you will be the cash flow stream, if you go on vacation or take a sick day then there may be no revenue that day(s). This may require that you plan ahead and bank cash for those times that you will not be generating revenue.

• Lower barrier of entry for you may also mean lower barrier of entry for competitors. Look for barriers other than initial investment that could keep competitors at bay such as technology, marketing, National accounts, etc.

• Territory based businesses sometimes grow over time by adding territory, at some point you may find that the distance from one end of the territory to the other is as far as you want to drive and that may be the natural limitation for your growth in that brand.

• In highly populated areas traffic may be a factor. I am not aware of any mobile franchises that make money when sitting in traffic.

There is not a single unique consideration that would be likely to be a deal killer on its own, but they are important points to work into your evaluation process. They may help you pick one mobile brand over another.

Looking for a cost effective way to start a business or just a role with variety and not being stuck in the office or retail store every day? Mobile franchising may be just the ticket and could offer a long term growth plan.

There are some great options out there that get you out and involved in your community!

Mr. Knauf is a highly sought after, trusted advisor to many companies; Public, Independent and Franchised, of all sizes and in many markets. His 20 plus years of experience in both startup and mature business operations makes him uniquely qualified to advise individuals that have dreamed of going into business for themselves in order to gain more control, independence, time flexibility and to be able to earn in proportion to their real contribution.

For more information visit: www.georgeknauf.com