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
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
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

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Senior SEO Executive

£24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior SEO Executive is requi...

Recruitment Genius: Online Customer Service Administrator

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Online customer Service Admi...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Marketing Executive

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This global, industry leading, ...

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk