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Updated Feb 14, 2024

3 Tips for Building an Investor-Ready Franchise Business

Howard Goldstein, Community Member

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Franchises offer entrepreneurs a proven business model, product or service and marketing strategy. However, they also come with a price tag ― sometimes a hefty one. In addition to a franchise fee, which typically ranges from $25,000 to $50,000, franchisees often have to pony up contractor and professional fees as well as costs associated with signage and inventory. As with any other business, they must also raise sufficient working capital to pay to get launched and running.

Editor’s note: Looking for financing for your business? Fill out the below questionnaire to have our vendor partners contact you with free information.

As a result, franchisees must always be on the lookout for funding opportunities to help with some of these costs. Because of the highly competitive nature of business funding, it pays to build a business that will not only get loan approvals from banks and other traditional lenders but also attract independent investors, including private equity firms with more favorable lending terms.

Did You Know?Did you know

One way to get started with limited funding is to open a franchise with low startup costs. However, keep in mind that a cheap cost to entry doesn’t necessarily guarantee affordable operating costs.

How to build an investor-ready franchise

Here are a few tips to help you build an investor-friendly franchise business.

1. Cover all your legal bases.

When you’re looking to bring investors into your franchise business, remember that you’ll be adding another independent party, the investor, into an already complex web of interactions. To ensure things run smoothly, it’s crucial to take up the services of a franchise attorney from the get-go, who will help with things like the franchise agreement, the franchise disclosure document and issues of liability that often carry severe implications for franchise businesses.

Liability issues can weigh heavily on any business, making potential investors shy away from a partnership. Some companies have lost millions of dollars in product liability settlements. This happens even when the business in the suit did not develop the product in question. For franchisees with several units, such liability issues can create a loss-making, highly flammable business environment that potential investors won’t want to touch.

In addition to addressing any liability issues and helping with the necessary franchising documentation, a franchise attorney can be helpful when it comes to selecting a business entity, such as a limited liability company or C corporation, which in itself is a critical step that determines taxation regimes and legal rights associated with your business. 

2. Create a solid business and marketing plan.

One common misconception among entrepreneurs venturing into a franchise business is that their role as franchisees will be limited to cashing checks and lounging behind an executive office desk. While the franchisor will often require the franchisee to stick by the original business model, an investor will only come on board if you have a business plan detailing your franchise business’s strategic vision and goals, financial projections and comprehensive business background.

Plus, despite the fact the franchisor will also have a marketing strategy in place ― usually complete with logos, banner designs and ad campaigns ― it is vital you develop and integrate your own marketing strategy with the franchisor’s marketing plan. Potential investors will often need to see how your establishment plans to interact with potential customers, something that will significantly influence how they assess the profitability of your venture.

To that end, invest in every practical marketing tool a typical business uses to find and close leads. Marketing strategies, such as email and social media marketing, can be quite effective for franchisee operators just starting out, thanks to the 58 percent of potential leads who check their emails every morning. To add to this pool of potential leads, you can use localized ad campaigns and promotion programs that target customers around your area of operation, ensuring your franchisor approves each element of your marketing strategy to avoid branding and trademark issues later on.

FYIDid you know

Creating a marketing plan that appeals to your investors is essential. Here are four marketing hacks to help you attract the right investors.

3. Streamline your franchisee’s finances.

One of the biggest turnoffs for investors is a franchisee ― or any business, for that matter ― whose finances don’t make sense, even when the franchisor is a well-known, profit-making brand. While it is standard for single franchisee units to employ basic accounting systems around the office, franchisees with multiple business units might have difficulty managing finances via simple financial software. This situation often makes the business look bad in the eyes of potential investors.

To remedy this problem, utilize a top accounting system that links up with all your business units, ensuring that any new software or hardware you introduce meets the standards set by the franchisor, if any. Your system should be able to produce comprehensive financial and accounting reports at a moment’s notice in any of the locations under your franchise business.

Additionally, be highly selective with the bank you partner with, making sure it understands your business as a franchisee and your intentions to bring an investor on board. A good bank will grow with you by dishing out financial advice and support without interfering in the relationship between your franchisee and your investors.

Investors vs. bank loans for franchises

Generally speaking, the most significant difference between an investor and a lender is that investors tend to lend money to startup businesses, whereas banks prefer to lend money to proven, existing businesses. Here are a few things investors and bank lenders evaluate before working with your business:

What investors look for in startups

Investors often look for startup features like a product pitch, return on investment potential and equity offer:

  1. Your pitch: First and foremost, investors want to know what your big-picture pitch is. Rather than diving right into your financials, investors want to understand your market analysis and how your product or services solve a problem. In other words, an investor wants to see a thorough plan to bring your idea to fruition.
  2. Your potential: Investors, more than anything, are looking for a significant return on their investments. Therefore, they want to invest in startups they believe have the potential to be the next big, publicly traded company. One of the primary indicators of a startup’s potential is its ability to scale and grow as the market demand increases.
  3. Your equity offer: Finally, investors don’t charge interest on the money they invest in a company. Instead, they look for a share of the startup’s equity. [Related article: How to Know an Investor Is Offering You a Good Deal]

What banks look for in small businesses

Banks tend to look for proof of concept features like reliable cash flow, collateral and business experience:

  1. Cash flow: Banks like lending money to established businesses with a steady, reliable income to minimize risk. To assess this, banks and other lenders will evaluate your revenue streams, profit and loss statements and credit history to ensure you have enough money left over after expenses to repay the loan.
  2. Collateral: Additionally, lenders often look for a secondary source to repay a loan if a business cannot generate enough capital. Banks will consider real estate, vehicles, business equipment or other valuable assets to offset their risk. 
  3. Experience: Finally, banks and lenders want to know what your business is and if you have enough experience to ensure your venture is successful. They will also review your business plan and financial projections to see how well you know the market and if your past projections have proven accurate.

Where to find investors

Today, finding investors is relatively easy. The trick is making your startup or small business attractive to investors. Here are a few places where you can find investors for your business:

  • Online fundraising platforms: Over the past decade, online fundraising platforms have grown in popularity and many accredited individual investors use them to find promising companies. A few popular equity crowdfunding platforms include Wellfound (previously AngelList Talent), StartEngine (which now also owns SeedInvest), MicroVentures and Wefunder.
  • Social media: Social media platforms are a great channel to connect with your audience, establish your brand and market your product or services, but it is also an excellent resource to find potential investors. LinkedIn, in particular, is a great place to cold pitch or make strong connections, but you can also use platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, to foster relationships and have thoughtful conversations.
  • Blogging: One of the best long-term strategies to develop an inbound audience is to start a blog that shares your story, states your goals and illustrates your progress. You can also track down potential investors and read their blogs for insights into what they look for before investing in a young company.

Additional reporting by Skye Schooley and Sean Peek.

Howard Goldstein, Community Member
Howard Goldstein is the Chief Executive Officer of Priceless Funding Group. Mr. Goldstein has been in the business lending industry for over 20 years in a career that has helped hundreds of businesses launch and grow. Mr. Goldstein aims to help business owners get the capital that is needed with the terms that are deserved.
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