5 things I wish I knew before I bought a franchise: Snap-on Tools franchisee
Gerry Roelofsz has been the Snap-on Tools franchisee for South Auckland for two years. Before that, he ran a Snap-on company store, so he's seen both sides of a franchised business.
1. How much time it takes to run the business
One of the big factors for Roelofsz was the time commitment required. When you're a franchisee it can seem like you're always at work.
"This is a 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week job in many ways," he says. "I knew what I was getting into, but it was surprising how busy it is."
There are long days on the truck selling tools, but the business still needs attention after hours, with such things as administration, training, stock control and, of course, paperwork
2. There is so much paperwork
"I didn't think there would be so much office work to do," Roelofsz admits. "But you've got to keep on top of it. I worked out how to do it and I have a system now that works well for me."
This includes business records, accounting, reporting and other bookwork, which can be a headache if you're not ready for it. The Snap-on system helps franchisees keep on top of the office work, but they still need to be able to organise themselves.
3. How to manage cashflow
This is another key area for franchisees, and it requires a good system and good organisation to stay in control.
"I have moments when the GST gives me a kick in the head, and there are bottlenecks with cashflow," he says. "But I learnt how to take a step back and assess the problem and I found ways to make things work better."
Every business owner knows the pressures of matching the money going out with the money coming in. But there are ways to even out the cashflow
Roelofsz explains "I have regular competitions among my customers, and that helps to get cash back on to the truck."
4. You need patience
No matter how good the product, it will take time to build a customer base ¬- no one strikes it rich on day one. Roelofsz had experience with a company store before he took over the franchise, so he was well-supplied with customers, but some newcomers can find it a struggle in the early days.
"Because we have a high-quality product, it is easy to sell the tools. At the start, you think you might run out of customers, but you never do!"
5. The importance of company support
A lot of people become franchisees because they like being in charge of their own destiny. This is true, but franchise systems also offer plenty of support to their people out in the field. Once he was in his truck as a franchisee, Roelofsz was pleasantly surprised about the back-up he gets from head office.
"Snap-on is great at keeping me informed," he says. "The sales meetings are detailed and very helpful.
"Also, when I won a monthly award, I was surprised to get a phone call from Ajit (Ponnambalam, the managing director). It's great to get that recognition."