Is franchising right for me?

do I need a non-immigrant visa to run a franchise in Thailand?

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Franchising is more popular than ever and it is easy to see why. Buying a franchise opportunity in Thailand can provide the investor with a proven format, systems, brand awareness, training, support and guidance. It can offer significant rewards over time and compared to starting your own business in Thailand from scratch it can be a less risky route into self employment, alongside all the paperwork you need for getting your non-immigrant visa and work permit here in Thailand. But then you ask, is franchising right for me?

Whilst franchising is generally regarded as a safer route, don’t under-estimate the heavy toll that starting a business can take on your life. There are inevitably going to be lifestyle changes when you become your own boss, which could include working longer hours, added pressure, stress and financial uncertainty, particularly in the early years. Running your own business – whether it’s a franchise or not – requires a great deal of self motivation and commitment and as rewarding as it can be, it will always be a challenge.

When considering whether franchising is the right option for you, one of the first decisions you need to make is what type of business you have an aptitude for and you will enjoy. Eliminating unsuitable opportunities is relatively easy as most people will know whether they wish to run the business themselves or manage a team. You should also have an understanding whether you wish to run the business from home, an office or a vehicle. Everybody will have a financial budget to operate within. Once the options are narrowed down to a handful of suitable opportunities these will require further in-depth investigation.

Investing in an established franchise will as far as possible reduce the inherent risks in setting up a new business. It is important to evaluate the strength of the brand and the long term viability of the franchise. Unproven systems that have not operated a successful pilot scheme carry a significantly greater risk to the investor. It is essential that you undertake thorough research on the franchisor and the franchise package before making a commitment to invest.

An established franchise will have a track record of success and possibly some failures. It is important to investigate why they have been successful and what lessons have been learned from the franchisees that have failed. Ask for a list of franchisees and take the time to speak to as many of them as you can. The franchisor should provide this information willingly once they establish you are genuinely interested in their franchise opportunity. It is likely that they will want to manage the process but don’t be directed to only speak to the people the franchisor wants you to and who are likely to provide the most favourable responses to your questions. You should choose which franchisees to contact, talk to as many as possible to get a balanced view.

Not everyone is cut out to run a franchise, so the trick is to think things through carefully, get professional advice and – when you explore your options, don’t leave any stone unturned.

Richard Holden
Head of Franchising
Lloyds Banking Group
Tel: 07802 324018

Richard heads up the Lloyds Bank franchise team and is a regular contributor to trade publications and national press. He regularly speaks at franchise seminars and exhibitions.