How to Start a Franchise That Stands Apart

A Scooter's Coffee kiosk illuminated at dawn.

First-time entrepreneurs with the drive to launch a business concept are anxious to get started, but the learning curve to make it happen as a moneymaking endeavor can be steep. In addition to just the idea for the product or service to be offered, there are plenty of nuts and bolts, so to speak.

Partnering with a franchise brand, instead of launching an independent business, drastically reduces that learning curve and sets the owner on a faster path to profit.

But make sure you know how to start a franchise that stands apart from the pack.

Making a Splash

Some entrepreneurs make the mistake of thinking that to truly stand apart they must open an independent business. That is just not true. By choosing the right franchise for the market, a franchise business can shine and separate itself from the competition.

Going independent and becoming a franchisee each have pros and cons. If you start a business yourself, you make 100 percent of the decisions, but you do so without a strong foundation of wisdom, market insight, and support. Especially if you don’t have a background in the particular industry or segment, you’ll make honest — but costly — mistakes along the way. You will have learned a lot, but at a cost, with a steeper learning curve.

Also, a franchise brand has methods to strategically size up their biggest competitors and determine how to differentiate themselves from them. A franchise relationship with an existing brand allows you to catch the wave of growth trends and get running more quickly and smoothly.

Plus, marketing and grand opening strategies enable an entrepreneur to make an immediate splash with the right franchise.

How Can My Franchise Business Stand Apart From Others?

The first order of business is to choose the right franchise.

Deciding on the type of concept for a business may start with two threshold factors: (1) an entrepreneur’s available budget/capital and (2) a determination of what unique product or service — or twist on existing products or service — the market in question needs.

The options available could range from a home-based “side hustle” type of concept or a retail or foodservice business open to the public. Entrepreneurs can choose from a wide range of franchises at initial investment costs from relatively inexpensive to pretty pricey.

For starters, you can save time in your search by looking to the experts for guidance on which franchises are special. For instance, Entrepreneur annually ranks the 500 best franchises in the country. Scooter’s Coffee this year came in at number 225 for its outstanding performance in areas including unit growth, financial strength and stability, and brand power.

Points of Difference

The business model will be important in setting the establishment apart in the market. Study the landscape of businesses in the area and what they offer — and what they don’t. For example, perhaps there are a couple of popular coffee shops and even one with a drive-thru, but a burgeoning area of town needs one, too.

That presents a window of opportunity. Success in business thrives with not only a unique-to-market brand but also a real point of difference, which could be the product itself or convenience or service approach.

And what better way to stand out than to introduce your area to a new brand that is a break from the norm?

Little differences add up to big motivation for people to take their business to unique concepts. For example, Scooter’s Coffee differentiates itself from competitors in a number of ways. The brand focuses on serving amazing coffee with great service.

Differences for Franchisees, Too

A franchise should stand out not just to consumers but to potential franchisees as well. Scooter’s Coffee separates itself from the pack by being an established brand with a reputation for quality — and a marketing team that works to expand the brand’s reach nationally. The company’s franchise system provides continued coffee franchise support, as well as a network of franchisees who share wisdom.

The Scooter’s Coffee concept is proven, with more than 350 locations, making it ready to enter a new market at full speed. To that end, the company makes sure that new franchises aren’t too close to existing ones — ensuring that it will stand apart — and conducts market research to make sure each location has the potential to thrive.

Scooter’s Coffee is also different from many businesses in that it is resilient in times of crisis, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. The brand’s drive-thru locations are perfectly suited for seamless operation throughout times of social distancing.

How to Start a Franchise

The first step toward starting a franchise is what you’re doing right this minute, as you read this article: research.

Your decision on what type of franchise to pursue will come after much soul searching and number crunching.

You’ve read reports and articles and picked the brains of people you know in the industry. You’ve visited and observed other businesses in the area, getting an idea of what type of business you want to start. You’ve examined the possibilities of opening your own independent business, buying an existing independent, or opening a franchise location, and you’ve decided on a franchise.

You can narrow the field of choices based on factors such as what you are willing or able to invest. The cost of entry may be quite low or very high, depending on the chain brand with which you opt to partner.

Each company’s Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD) enables you to evaluate the franchise, with a breakdown and range of the initial investment costs under Item 7. For example, according to the 2019 Entrepreneur list, the initial investment amounts for the top five restaurant franchises range from $229,000 to $4.7 million, making the average initial investment for a single unit around $2.5 million.

The Application Process

Once you’ve chosen the franchise you want, the franchise application is the next step in how to start a franchise. Think of it like you would a job application. You will be sharing your educational background, employment history, former and current business ventures and their results, and more.

This is your opportunity to impress the franchisor and stand out from the many people clambering to try to get one of their franchises. Demonstrate your knowledge of the brand, their offerings, their value proposition, and their history in the marketplace.

The franchisor will want to know what kind of prospect you are — how interested and serious you truly are, what financial resources you have, and whether you meet their qualifications.

The company will want to get to know your personality and work ethic. They will want a self-starter who takes initiative but also is willing to follow the specifications and practices of the brand.

If you and the franchisor agree that you’ll be a good fit with one another, you will need to secure financing. Though some entrepreneurs may be fortunate enough to have the funds in hand, most franchisees take out loans to meet the funding requirements. You may have family or friends willing to loan you funding, or you may borrow from a bank or other lending institution.

Your current assets and ability to obtain funding will be important in the application phase. The franchisor contributes much to the relationship, including established systems, marketing, management techniques, purchasing power, and much more. The franchisee will need to finance launching the new location from that foundation.

If you are a first-time business owner looking for guidance, systems, and support, or a seasoned entrepreneur looking for your next investment opportunity, check out Scooter’s Coffee.

Scooter’s Coffee has been serving up delicious coffee, tasty treats, and genuine smiles since 1998. Visit OwnAScooters.com today to learn more about joining the Scooter’s team and making your dreams a reality.

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