There are two main types of franchise: those that provide products and those that provide services. Product franchises include areas like retail and restaurants, where customers come in and pay money in exchange for goods. In the service franchise sector, customers exchange money for a particular activity or advice that’s provided by the franchisee.
There is a big variety of service franchises available, covering a range of sectors. They cater for the basic needs and services that individuals or businesses need on a day-to-day basis. This could involve providing specialist knowledge or even technical assistance.
Pros and cons of a service franchise
There are fewer service franchises than product franchises and they tend to be less visible in the public sphere. However, there are several other major benefits. They are usually cheaper to set up and require less expensive premises and location units than retail franchises. As geography isn’t as much of a concern, they can also be easier to launch. As they rely on information or ability as their main selling point, there is not so much work to do around supply chains and product sourcing.
As service franchises tend to rely more on contract work than sales, there is also less work to do around branding and marketing. Of course, these factors are still important, but not to the extent they would be as part of a fast food franchise, for instance. Being affiliated with a larger franchise network is often a major benefit in terms of acquiring contracts.
In many cases, premises can be smaller or even run from a mobile unit or home office. This makes it more economic. While a product franchise can cost into the hundreds of thousands, a service franchise is more likely to be in the tens of thousands.
Working hours in the service industry are often more flexible and less determined by the market. Retail franchises, for example, will be expected to be open seven days a week, right throughout the day. Fast food ventures may even have to extend to 24 hours. This raises issues with staffing and the expense of operating for lengthy periods.
By contrast, many service franchises only work during office hours with weekends off. There are exceptions, however, such as a cleaning franchise, which will be expected to operate at hours outside of the normal 9 to 5.
Service franchises are typically more independent than product-based ones. This is because the franchisor has less of a stake in the immediate representation of the brand. Service-based franchisees therefore have more control over the day-to-day running of the business.
Service-based franchises often depend more on the personality and skill set of the franchisee. It requires a greater degree of discipline and management than a more straightforward product franchise, so you will need to possess people and organisational skills.
Of course, both product and service franchises offer opportunities for a successful career. However, both require different sets of individual skills to make them work. It is well worth thinking carefully about which is more suited to you before making your choice.
Types of service franchise
As mentioned above, there is a great degree of variety in the service franchise sector. Below we have tried to group together some general areas of operation that demonstrate the kind of areas they cover.
Buildings services – These require a degree of technical knowledge to maintain and repair both domestic and commercial property. These services include things like plumbing, drain cleaning and anything else that is beyond the capability of the building occupant.
Building services can either work on a case-by-case basis with individual clients or obtain larger contracts to work on an on-going basis.
Advisory services – These kinds of franchises operate on a consultation basis, providing advice and assistance with regards to specific areas of operation. This could include financial information, health or others. Estate agents are a good example.
Investment franchises also work in the area of offering advice and expertise in return for payment or a percentage of commission. They can also help to connect clients with other goods and services.
Personal services – These are franchises that work with people at a personal level. This could be in terms of health and beauty, like hairdressers, or fitness, like a personal trainer or yoga instructor. These personal service franchises can also work on a case-by-case basis or on longer contracts.
Maintenance and outdoor – One of the most popular kinds of service franchise is in maintenance, especially gardening. Franchises can be mobile and require a limited amount of equipment in order to set up and operate.
Leisure – Another big area of the service franchise sector is in leisure. This covers everything from holidays to party planning. Acting as a go-between for client and product, leisure services arrange and organise all aspects of an event on the client’s behalf.
Service franchises are perhaps less obvious and well known than product franchises and are usually smaller as they rely less on brand impact. However, it is still a significant part of the franchise world. They tend to suit people who are organised and disciplined, who have specialist skill sets or who enjoy certain areas of business. They are less subject to market fluctuation in general than product-related businesses, although this does very much depend on the specific nature of the service.
They are suited to people with good customer service skills, especially in areas that rely on personal interaction.
As with any other franchise, you need to choose carefully and carry out due diligence in terms of what is being offered as part of the franchise and what is expected of you in return.
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Source: Franchise UK