Find the right franchise fit

01/30/2014 4:17 PM

01/30/2014 4:17 PM

Jeff Oddo, president of the City Wide maintenance company in Kansas City, has worked with lots of midcareer people who want to be their own boss.

He meets them when they check into buying one of his company’s franchise operations around the country. Some buy and succeed. Others don’t.

In the dozen years since Oddo began franchising his family’s 52-year-old business, he has developed a pretty good checklist to improve the odds for franchise success. He shared basic tips in a recent conversation with me:

• If you’d like to explore franchise opportunities, work first with a franchise broker such as FranNet or The Entrepreneur’s Source to sort through reasonable possibilities.

• Through the broker or potential franchiser, take a battery of skill, interest and personality tests to help choose a good fit for you. Oddo likes two assessments, the Culture Index and Wonderlic.

• Be clear about the financial commitment. City Wide franchises, for example, are in the upper quartile of franchise costs, requiring $500,000 in net worth, of which at least $250,000 is working capital, and there’s a $90,000 franchise fee. Oddo said that’s out of reach for many interested buyers, but there are other franchise options to fit smaller pocketbooks.

• Be aware of your business strengths and weaknesses. “Lots of people don’t have the time or aren’t good at doing it all on their own,” Oddo said. “Be sure you assemble the right talent around you.”

• “Don’t just buy yourself a job,” Oddo said. “Analyze closely the opportunity for continued income.”

• Look for a franchise that will give you financial security, a sense of belonging to a group or place and a feeling that you’re making a difference for the people you serve. That’s the combination Oddo has seen lead to the greatest franchisee success.

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