This may be the year of the entrepreneur, but does that include franchising?
Brenda Dronkers says:
Yes! There are so many reasons that right now is a good time to buy into a franchise. For women in particular, there are so many low cost as well as home-based franchise brands. In the past, it seemed that franchising was geared more for the brick and mortar, high investment, high strung entrepreneurs. However, these days, with options like tutoring services, food trucks, home services and so many other industries adding a low cost franchise opportunity with flexible work schedules, it is primetime for women in franchising.
Brenda Dronkers knows about franchising. She's the founder and former president of Pump It Up, the Inflatable Party Zone. Founded in 2000, she grew it to what is now the largest children's recreational franchise system in the country. She sold majority ownership in 2007 after sales hit $70 million.
Brenda's kids were 4,9, & 11 years old in 1999 when she attended a church carnival. There were two big inflatables in the church warehouse that were by far the most fun attraction at the carnival. Kids would wait in line to jump up and down for a few minutes then swing around to get right back in line again.
Brenda found herself awestruck in two ways. The first was that both her youngest and oldest kids were both completely enthralled with the inflatables. Usually her kids weren't entertained with the same activity since they were seven years apart. Secondly, she realized that because these were inside, there was no weather issue allowing for year-round fun and parties.
Without a college education or biz experience, ten weeks after this aha moment, Brenda opened her first Pump It Up.
If you are considering buying a franchise, Brenda recommends that you ask yourself these questions:
- Can I follow training and directions easily?
- Can I follow someone else's system requirements?
- Am I a multi-tasker?
- Can I fund the franchise until it is up and running successfully?
- Last but certainly not least... Do I have my family's support?
If you answered yes to all of those questions, then franchising may be for you. If in fact it is, Brenda suggests these questions be asked of a potential franchise:
- How long has the franchisor been in business?
- What kind of ongoing support will the franchise offer?
- Does the franchise have a solid growth plan?
- How do the rest of the franchisees like working with the brand?
- How much freedom does the franchise give you?
Brenda describes how she managed to balance mom & biz when she first launched:
When I began PIU, my children were 4, 10 and 12. When hubby was at the firehouse, I took them with me to the PIU when I had parties booked. I had an office, and I taught them all to make goodie bags (free child labor, except for all the 'goodies' they grabbed). I brought a TV, books, toys and made a play area/homework room for them. This lasted for about six months, and then I was able to hire a manager to work the parties. I did the rest of the business from home. Many moms, if given the chance, would choose to work from home once they have their baby like I did. As moms, we have this amazing way of being able to balance our home and business life. It will take some practice, but it can be done.
For many moms franchising can be an effective, flexible, rewarding and supportive business option. There are lots of franchise systems set up by franchisors that are focused on targeting women who want to work from home. Out of the approximate 3,500 franchise opportunities, Brenda says that about 1,000 are home-based options.
She recommends the following franchises for mompreneurs who prefer to be home based:
Games On the Go: This is a mobile RV that travels to birthday parties and events. The RV is full of retro games, such as Pac Man, Donkey Kong and more It has a very low start-up cost and is designed to be run from a home office.
Stroller Moms: This is a franchise that trains you to host stroller fitness classes in your neighborhood. This is not only a great source of revenue, but the mompreneur actually makes friends and can take her baby to work!
Bark Busters: This franchise will teach its franchisee to train dogs. So, if you love dogs, what a great way to get out of the house, and run your own business as well.
Home Helpers: If you love senior citizens, you may love Home Helpers. The franchisee of this franchise work's from home, making appointments to visit and assist senior citizens...o n your own schedule!
Brenda talks about the benefits of going with a franchise as opposed to starting your own similar type of biz:
When you invest in a franchise, you are investing in a proven business model. I was very blessed that PIU was a hit. According to About.com, studies show that franchises have a success rate of approximately 90 percent as compared to only about 15 percent for businesses that are started from the ground up. The increased probability of success usually far outweighs any initial franchise fee and nominal royalties that are paid monthly. Also, many franchises participate in women's funding opportunities, or have pre-registered with the SBA to avoid lending issues. Franchising is amazing. But not all franchises are created equal. If you decide to explore franchises, be sure to use your talents as a woman...practice discernment and use your intuition as you speak to these franchise brands. Any doubt, find another brand.
There's such a variety of options available and if you spend enough time researching, Brenda is confident that you will find the right business match. You too can then jump for joy!