How to find your perfect franchise

There are hundreds of franchise opportunities available in Ireland and, with new concepts being established constantly, choosing the right franchise concept to suit your budget, skills and lifestyle can seem overwhelming.

Before you even begin to look at the available franchises it is important that you have an idea of the sort of business you want to run, for example are you prepared to do the hands-on work or would you prefer to run it as a management business? You should also have in mind the amount of money that you are able and willing to invest and the sort of hours you want to work.

When you have a general idea about the sort of business you want a good way of seeing a range of franchise opportunities in one place is by visiting a franchise exhibition. The Irish Franchise Association holds an annual franchise exhibition where you will be able to talk face-to-face with franchisors from across Ireland. As well as this the exhibition includes talks and seminars from franchise professionals providing information and advice on the franchise industry. The next exhibition is due to take place at Croke Park, Dublin on Friday 19th and Saturday 20th February 2010.

In addition to the national exhibition there are often smaller regional exhibitions held across Ireland throughout the year. Although not as large as the national exhibition, these are still a good way of seeing what franchise opportunities are available and speaking to franchisors face-to-face.

If you are unable to attend a franchise exhibition or if you want to get an idea of the franchise opportunities available before attending there is a huge amount of information available on the internet. In the showcase section of this website there is a number of franchises available throughout the country that suit a range of investment budgets. As well as this new franchise opportunities coming into Ireland are often promoted on this site.

In addition to looking online, there are a number of printed magazines available that are dedicated to franchising. For example the Irish Franchise Magazine is published twice a year and includes a range of articles that provide information on the franchise opportunities available and on the franchising industry. The latest version of Irish Franchise Magazine will be in the shops from Friday 5th February 2010.

Once you have shortlisted the franchises that you are interested in it is important that you thoroughly research each one before making a final decision. You can research the franchise by looking on franchising websites and reading magazines, but you should also speak directly to the franchisor.

Do not be reluctant to ask the franchisor questions, including on the financial health of the company, its track record, and the company's main source of income. A franchisor should be open and honest in answering all your questions. If possible you should also try to arrange to meet the franchisor in person at their head office, so that you can not only meet the people you will in business with but also to ensure that they present the company and brand in a professional manner.

Additionally, you should also ask to speak to existing franchise owners to find out how their individual business are performing and to provide an insider's view of running the business. The franchisor should be willing to provide you with a list of names and contact numbers for their franchise owners to allow you to pick and choose which ones you want to speak to.

It is important to remember that although becoming self-employed via franchising is less risky that going it alone, there is still some risk involved so you should be 100 per cent happy and confident with the franchise you invest in, after thoroughly researching into the business.

Reported by Derin Clark