Inside Business: Franchise counsellors pull partners together

"IT IS like a marriage," says Norman Grossman, senior franchise counsellor at the London Franchise Information Centre. "You need to be a good team player. You either hit it off with the franchisor or you don't."

Franchising is not for everyone. Individualists may find it constraining, and loners can soon head for the franchise equivalent of the divorce courts. But the succession of people calling on the London Franchise Information Centre since it opened last September shows just how popular the concept is.

Around 30 people a week visit the centre in St Andrew Street, next to Holborn. Many arrange free hour-long counselling sessions, in which they are warned of the pitfalls as well as the benefits of franchising. Not only potential franchisees have been asking advice, but also the owners of successful businesses that want to become franchisors as a way of expanding.

"I am firmly in favour of franchises," says Mr Grossman, who has been 21 years in the business, recruiting franchisees firstly for Pronuptia & Youngs, the bridal wear and men's formal wear retailers, and then with Apollo Despatch. "You are in business for yourself, but not by yourself. You are working with the support of a large company.

"Franchisees can build up capital value in the business, which they can then sell if they want to. The NatWest survey of franchises found that 94 per cent of franchisees were profitable last year, and 92 per cent were happy with their relationship with their franchisor. Those are remarkable figures. They explain why clearing banks are happy to lend 70 per cent of necessary start-up capital, where they would normally only lend 50 per cent for a stand-alone start-up. All the banks have specialist sections."

Most visitors to the centre are considering buying a franchise and are advised of the financial and contractual implications as well as the vast choice. There are 541 franchisors operating in the UK, and 25 have stands in the London centre at the moment. Exhibitors include McDonald's, Red Star, KallKwik, Drinkmaster and Unigate.

Some exhibitors are not merely looking for franchises in Britain but want to sell master franchises in overseas markets, while others are foreign- based corporations, particularly from the USA, looking to dispose of UK master franchises.

A network of business advisers from around the country is now in contact with the franchise centre, involving not only Business Links offices, but also forces' resettlement advisers. Many people in the armed services have expressed interest in taking on franchises, using the lump sums they obtain from leaving the forces early.

Franchisees need to be energetic and committed, as well as having good business acumen, says Mr Grossman. Taking on a franchise is not a substitute for traditional commercial skills.

Not all visitors are immediately interested in setting up in business, though. Some are students and casual visitors simply wanting to know more about the franchise concept.

From this week, potential franchisees and franchisors can ask for the extra reassurance of a psychological profile, to help suggest whether they are likely to make a go of franchising.

The centre was set up by Fraser Russell, a firm of accountants, with the support of the British Franchise Association, and is sponsored by NatWest Bank. Visitors do not pay a fee, although franchisors are charged a monthly subscription for exhibitions.

A similar centre operates in Glasgow, and the success of the London unit has led to discussions on centres in Birmingham, Manchester and other major cities.

q The London Franchise Information Centre is at 22 St Andrew Street, London EC4. Counselling sessions can be booked on 0171-583 6955.

Suggested Topics
Voices
A Russian hunter at the Medved bear-hunting lodge in Siberia
Save the tigerWildlife charities turn to those who kill animals to help save them
News
Davis says: 'My career has been about filling a niche - there were fewer short actors and fewer roles – but now I'm being offered all kinds of things'
PeopleWarwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
News
i100
Sport
Frank Lampard will pass Billy Wright and equal Bobby Charton’s caps tally of 106 caps against
sportFormer Chelsea midfielder in Etihad stopgap before New York contract
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
The first film introduced Daniel Radcliffe to our screens, pictured here as he prepares to board the train to Hogwarts for the first time.
booksHow reading Harry Potter helps children grow up to be gay-friendly
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Aladdin is performed at the Tony Awards in New York in June
theatreBrit producer Lythgoe makes kids' musical comedy a Los Angeles hit
Sport
Usain Bolt of Jamaica smiles and shakes hands with a competitor after Jamaica won their first heat in the men's 4x100m relay
sport
News
Chancellor George Osborne, along with the Prime Minister, have been 'complacently claiming the economy is now fixed', according to shadow Chancellor Ed Balls
i100... which is awkward, because he is their boss, after all
Life and Style
A small bag of the drug Ecstasy
Health
Life and Style
Floral-print swim shorts, £26, by Topman, topman.com; sunglasses, £215, by Paul Smith, mpaulsmith.co.uk
FashionBag yourself the perfect pair
News
news
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
Netherlands' goalkeeper Tim Krul fails to make a save from Costa Rica's midfielder Celso Borges during a penalty shoot-out in the quarter-final between Netherlands and Costa Rica during the 2014 FIFA World Cup
newsGoalkeepers suffer from 'gambler’s fallacy' during shoot-outs
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmReview: A week late, Secret Cinema arrives as interactive screening goes Back to the Future
Extras
indybest
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Financial Analyst - Forecasting - Yorkshire

£300 - £350 per day: Orgtel: Financial Analyst, Forecasting, Halifax, Banking,...

Business Architect - Bristol - £500 per day

£500 per day: Orgtel: Business Architect - Banking - Bristol - £500 per day A...

Regulatory Reporting-MI-Bank-Cardiff-£300/day

£200 - £500 per day + competitive: Orgtel: I am currently working on a large p...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Real Staffing

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Real Staffing are currently lo...

Day In a Page

Save the Tiger: Meet the hunters tasked with protecting Russia's rare Amur tiger

Hunters protect Russia's rare Amur tiger

In an unusual move, wildlife charities have enlisted those who kill animals to help save them. Oliver Poole travels to Siberia to investigate
Transfers: How has your club fared in summer sales?

How has your club fared in summer sales?

Who have bagged the bargain buys and who have landed the giant turkeys
The best swim shorts for men: Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer

The best swim shorts for men

Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer
Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable