When Babz and I opened our first Romp n’ Roll location in 2004, we never dreamed it would turn into a franchise with over 300 locations.

The path from concept, to single location, to international franchisor, hasn’t always been easy. Having gone through the process of franchising, I’ve learned several things that I’d love to share with you.

Here are my Top 5 tips if you are planning to franchise your business.

Franchise Your Business Tip #1: Develop a Comprehensive Operations Manual

If you haven’t done so already, sit down and document all aspects of your business.

Here are some areas to get you started:

Operations. Write down the exact procedures, guidelines, and protocols that have made your business successful. Or, hire a company to write your operations manual for you. Spare no details. This document will allow you to standardize practices, and serve as both a manual and reference guide for franchisees.

Human Resource Policies. What are your best practices in hiring and training employees? At Romp n’ Roll we use online learning management tools and videos to help our franchisees bring their employees up to speed as quickly and thoroughly as possible.

Brand Usage. The elements that make up your brand assets (logo, color palette, fonts, hashtags, taglines, etc.), must be used uniformly. Establish clear guidelines for brand assets, images, messages, etc. so everyone in your franchise network can represent your brand accurately.

Franchise Your Business Tip #2: Hire Professionals To Help You

Franchising your business can be very lucrative. Yet, there are costs, and procedures to follow.

Experienced professionals knowledgeable about franchising will help you set things up legally and properly, while reducing your stress.

Franchise Attorney. An experienced franchise attorney will help you with many things. They will prepare certain government required documents such as Franchise Disclosure Documents and Franchise Agreements. They will also help you with setting franchise fees and protecting your business’s intellectual property.

Franchise Development Consultant. From feasibility plans, to franchise sales training, to discovery day implementation, and franchisee recruitment, a Franchise Development Consultant can be quite helpful.

Franchise Accountant. New franchisors should work with an accountant that is experienced with franchising. They not only help prepare and file reports, but can navigate differing tax laws throughout the states.

Franchise Your Business Tip #3: Recruit Thoughtfully

While you will be eager to sign up new franchisees, I urge you to be discerning.

Many people may have the financial means to become a franchisee. Yet, do they have other qualities necessary to advancing your business concept?

At Romp n’ Roll, we look for franchisees who possess both head and heart. We have found that our ideal candidate is someone who has the passion for early education along with a business background.

Establish a mental list of qualities and skills as “must haves” in a potential recruit. Remember—your business and brand are on the line.

Franchise Your Business Tip #4: Research Locations Carefully

After building our franchise for a decade we “Romp n’ Rolled” out a new expansion plan in 2017.

After much research, we were able to really drill down and target specific Metro areas that fit our demographic perfectly. This has put us on the fast track for becoming the “largest company within our industry” by 2030.

I encourage you to immerse yourself in data about your own industry. Identify your target market and research where these people live, work, and shop. These are the locations to focus on—where your franchise seeds have the best chance of blooming.

Franchise Your Business Tip #5: Develop a Support System

Every person needs the counsel of a trusted advisor and confidant from time to time.

I have written about the value mentors have on both employees and entrepreneurs. It’s so important for you to have one or two qualified mentors during this process.

Because franchising is unique, mentors with franchising experience will have the best insight to help you. Join professional franchising organizations such as the International Franchise Association to begin building your support network.

Above all, be prepared for things to take a bit longer and cost more than you expected.

I hope these five tips will help you start to think through the set-up process of securing your first franchisee.

Learn five ways leadership is different in small companies.

Michael Barnett is the Co-Founder and CEO of Romp n’ Roll, and leads its management team. He is an active member of the International Franchise Association, and the National Association for the Education of Young Children. Additionally, Michael serves on the Board of Directors for Connor’s Heroes and Juniata College Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership. He and his wife, Babz, were featured on the first season of ABC-TV’s “Shark Tank“.

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