The franchising format is largely an American thing. Think of McDonald’s, Taco Bell, 7-Eleven, Dunkin’ Donuts, Subway, and Hilton Hotels. The world’s most successful franchises began in the US, including the very first modern day franchise business, launched by Isaac Singer, inventor of Singer sewing machines in the late 1800s.
A look back at where it all started shows us just how innovative the concept was. It may be the greatest business model ever created, and the growth of franchising in the UK has been phenomenal in recent years. Stats reveal that the contribution of franchising to the UK economy is £15.1 billion, an increase of 46% over the past decade.
So whilst franchising is still in its infancy here when compared to America, it’s growing fast. There is now more choice than there’s ever been with UK franchise opportunities, with some businesses starting at just a few thousand pounds to invest. If you’re interested in investing, make sure you do your research. Here is a guide to buying a franchise in the UK:
Where to find UK franchise opportunities
Looking for franchise businesses for sale is like looking for any business opportunity. Many of the online directories for businesses now include a section for franchises. There are also some specialist directories, such as Franchise Direct, Franchise Expo and Pointfranchise.co.uk, which let you find businesses from all industries. These websites allow you to search for UK franchises by sector, region, or by investment level. So whether your funds are little or large, you’ll find something suitable.
When looking through directories, be sure to consider the different types of franchises available too. It’s not just big fast food restaurants and automotive franchises that exist today. For instance, there are many van-based businesses in the UK, which offer a flexible way of working. And according to Forbes Magazine, there is also a massive rise in home-based franchise businesses. So there really are many investment opportunities to choose from.
Personal recommendations are the best, as they are the most honest. But you can also actively look for franchise reviews. Some of our franchisee testimonials at Tubz can help paint a clearer picture of what it’s like to own a vending machine business.
Going to Franchise Exhibitions
Another way to look for franchises for sale in the UK is to attend shows and exhibitions. We attend various shows every year, including the UK’s largest, the International Franchise Show, where almost 200 exhibitors gather to provide information about their brands to potential franchisees. The companies with a stand at this event include low-investment businesses like our snack vending franchise, all the way to the big players like McDonald’s, whose upfront costs are over £200,000. So you’ll get a taste of the market at every investment level.
This is us being interviewed at show a few years ago:
We definitely recommend attending these kinds of events before buying a franchise. Not only can you get a better sense of what’s out there and how much it will cost, but you will get the chance to speak to lots of companies in person. Having those face-to-face conversations are really important if you want to make sure the brand is a good fit for you.
Other shows that might be of interest include the National Franchise Exhibition at the NEC in Birmingham, The British & International Franchise Exhibition at Olympia London, or The Franchise Show at London’s ExCel.
Getting Legal Advice in the UK
Once you’re ready to get the ball rolling with buying your first franchise, it’s important to seek legal advice. Don’t use the same solicitor you used to buy your house, as you will need a specialist franchise solicitor who has had experience in this sector. Remember that there can be a lot of jargon and many regulations to understand within the franchise agreement.
Your solicitor can help you check that everything is fair within the document, and that you are getting the best deal. They will help you understand territory rights (such as open territories or closed territories), they will look at any intellectual property and supplier requirements, and they can determine your exit scenario. As well as due diligence, be sure that you have asked all the questions you need to ask before investing. Your solicitor can usually advise on this kind of thing too, but here’s a list of 10 questions to ask before buying a franchise.
When searching for a solicitor, look for one who is SRA regulated or UK BFA approved, or one that is recommended by someone you know. When speaking to other franchisees, you can ask them which legal firm they used. There are a number of directories you can use online too if you are unsure.
Although it’s not absolutely necessary to have a local franchising solicitor, choosing one that is close by will make the whole process go faster when signing documents. But a lot of firms operate by post or with email signing – just be sure to clarify the process before you appoint someone.
For tips in weighing up a franchise investment, take a look at our guide on how to assess franchise opportunities. Or to find out more about Tubz vending machines, contact our team on 01795 414 480 or firstname.lastname@example.org.