One only needs to look at the recent United Airlines controversy (or worse, the Shea Moisture blowback) to see how quickly social media can drag down a large brand when something goes wrong. Even though we’re living in a time where major corporations thrive, there’s something to be said for the smaller ones – especially if you’re about to invest your life savings.
When you invest in a large chain, it only takes one bad incident at another location to see your franchisor’s name dragged through the mud. Your fate is tied to theirs, so their PR problems are your PR problems. If their CEO is insensitive in his or her responses, it makes you look bad.
Still, it’s great to have a partner, and that’s what franchising gives you. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel, or find suppliers, or negotiate bulk discounts, or figure out what makes a good location. You have help every step of the way, and that’s hugely desirable for a lot of people. So what’s the answer? Do you accept the help and take the risk of some huge fiasco hurting your business over something you had nothing to do with? Or do you go it alone and forgo all that help?
There’s actually another option. Smaller franchises can be a fantastic compromise. If you pick a company that has at least 5-10 existing locations, you’ll still know you’re getting involved with a company that knows what they’re doing. However, there are fewer other locations to cause problems – and even if something happens, it’s highly unlikely it would be big enough to warrant national news coverage.
Smaller franchises can be great from a customer standpoint, too. Many people love the polished look and feel of franchised restaurants, but they still like to try new things. As a result, they may be more likely to pick a nearby Pizza Factory pizza franchise over yet another Pizza Hut when it comes time to choose a place for dinner.
Small franchises can also be great for new franchisees since they’re better able to give you the time and attention you’ll no doubt need as a new business owner. It’s very easy to get lost in the shuffle when you’re dealing with a large multinational franchisor that primarily deals with multi-unit owners.
So how about it? Would you consider a smaller franchise? If so, here are a few to get you started in your search: