It is essential not to confuse a franchise fee with the business’ total upfront cost. For example, a franchise fee may be $40,000, but the all-in investment is likely well over $100,000 or even into the millions, depending on the brand and what’s needed to get the business up and running. Part of the due diligence process is understanding the upfront costs required to open the franchise.
Franchise Marketing Fees
One of the many benefits of owning a franchise is brand recognition. The franchisee wants to capitalize on the brand's popularity. Increasing brand awareness involves advertising and marketing, for which the franchisee pays a marketing fee. Some franchisors don’t charge this fee, but many do. Fee structures vary from brand to brand, so it’s something to be aware of.
Franchisors can spend tens of thousands of dollars every year for the brand’s advertising. They base the marketing fee on the franchise’s monthly earnings. For example, if a business's average monthly revenue is $25,000 with a 2% marketing fee, the franchisor is owed $500, or $6,000 annually.
Franchise Due Diligence
Now that you know “what are royalties” and “what is a royalty,” there are other ways to do due diligence before investing in a franchise business. Speaking with franchisees who have experience owning and operating a business is a great way to determine whether or not a brand is right for you. Before speaking with franchisees, prepare a list of questions. Here are some examples:
- Is running this business what you expected?
- What are some problems you’ve encountered, and how did you overcome them?
- Is the investment in a franchise worth it?
- How long did it take you to see a return on your investment?
- What are some of the positive aspects of running this business?
Speaking with a Franchise Consultant
As an entrepreneur who wants to open a franchise, you should meet with a Franchise Consultant. This professional will look at your finances, skills, and experience to help you determine if franchising is realistic for you. The consultant will also go through the FDD with you and look at the fees to see if they are within industry standards.
Since the consultant gets a commission from a franchisor when a franchise business is awarded to a prospective candidate, you won’t have to pay the consultant anything for their advice. On top of understanding how to own a franchise that they work with, they can explain the franchise cost and help you better comprehend the FDD and the franchise agreement.
Another important aspect of due diligence before owning a business is attending discovery day. During this event, you can ask questions to the franchisor and members of the leadership team. These questions can include:
- How are franchise owners supported?
- How long does it typically take to open a franchise store?
- How would you say the franchisor v. franchisee relationship is in the system?
- Have you ever fired a franchise owner? If so, why?
After the event is over, it is best to sleep on it and seriously think about if owning a franchise is right for you. If you still believe that the franchise business is a good investment after the franchisee validation process, then go all-in.
What are Royalties?
What is a royalty? A royalty fee is an ongoing payment that is collected by the franchisor on a monthly or weekly basis. The idea behind franchise royalty fees is that franchisors do well when franchisees do well. The average royalty fee is between 4% to 12%. Other costs associated with franchise ownership include the initial franchise fee and marketing fees. Before leaping into franchise ownership, speak with franchise owners and a consultant to get a better sense of what a business is like.