To be a Franchisee or not?

To be a Franchisee or not?

I am often told when asked by people for details of our Driving Instructor training packages that they don't want to be part of a franchise, or they want to be their own boss.

This is something I respect. People who are wanting to change their life / career should have an idea of the direction they want to go in - I would be disappointed if they didn’t.


Many of these issues are based around wanting to be able to dictate their work patterns, be able to be flexible around the family needs they have in their life. Some people have been put off being a franchisee by stories of how people have fared when they have failed the qualifying process, and these stories generate a fear of entering into a franchise.

Let us look at the pros and cons. But let me say at the outset although we train ADIs, and operate a driving school with franchisees, we will fully support anyone wishing to train with us and go alone, even though we offer a franchise as part of the training package.
 

Cons:

Tied into a business relationship with another individual or company for often a minimum term.

Payment of a regular franchise fee which affects the profitability of the new business could be a burden.

A perception that they will be expected to work certain hours which may not be compatible with their chosen lifestyle.

Not feeling that you are truly “independent” or “your own boss”.

These may actually be overriding feelings which can be deal breakers due to a personal history and the trainee / instructor needs to feel in total control. However, let us examine the above a little more and argue each point.
 

Pros:

Anyone needs to build relationships to be successful, and being in a relationship with an established business may mean that a trainee / instructor may actually make more money than going alone. An established and reputable business will be investing their time, effort and resources into developing you and your part of their business / franchise in order to show you that the relationship is worthwhile. A sensible minimum term in my opinion is 12-18 months - these minimum terms were brought on by unscrupulous trainees / instructors wanting to get s full diary and not provide their sponsor ADI / driving school with a return on their investment. Always be honest and up front with a company you are wanting to work with. There are occasions where driving schools have come across people who are less that honest and it must be understood they are just being protective of their business and livelihood.

Paying a franchise fee - which may include advertising, telephone support, website etc might actually save you a huge amount in administration, time and worry. The franchisor will have experience and be able to guide you and your career - some may include further professional development. Our driving school - and this is not and advert - has franchisees who have been with us consistently for nearly 20 years. These instructors would not pay a franchise unless there is a return for them and they can prove it works for them they get referrals and recommendations so could go on their own. Do the maths for yourself:- if, for example independent schools are charging £20 per hour (this has been typical in some areas) whilst established franchises are charging £25 per hour, an instructor doing 40 hours is earning £200 per week more than the independent. In this situation a franchise works well for the instructor. The numbers may be different (so may the franchise). The point is that mathematically it can work for you. It may not, or you may not want it to. Be honest with yourself regarding your motivation! Included in the franchise fee will generally be a lot of advertising and support services (although no-one can guarantee the telephone will ring / emails may arrive) this is often an umbrella saving you experimenting into a world of advertising and self promotion which you are unused and inexperienced at.

The hours you work as a driving instructor are usually determined by the pupil. Not the driving school. Not even the instructor. It is the pupil and their availability which drives (forgive the pun) the demand for lessons, and some will want lessons at evenings and weekends. If you are wanting to be a driving instructor one would assume you are aware of this. It can work for you if you have (for example) children and are working childcare with your partner this can be managed and it is a very flexible lifestyle. I have earned a good living and worked hours which suited me, whilst avoiding working when I don't want to. A franchisor may be more than happy to work with you around your chosen hours and help you manage your diary to earn the income whilst making the family life adjustments needed for you - we do this for our instructors and this works for both us, the instructors and the pupils.

As an instructor, you are self employed. This is so for every instructor I have met with very few exceptions. As such I would expect you to want to be in charge of your own destiny. No-one should tell you what to do - you are self employed. A franchisee, whilst being part of a team, is by definition independent, so can choose not to make themselves available on whatever times / days / weeks etc. All the franchise means is there is someone looking after your interests whilst you are away.