Business owners and entrepreneurs alike are always eager to talk about their journey to the top, their areas of expertise, and even show a willingness to share their experiences and the working model that has been proven successful to them and to countless others in their network. Whether it’s Ray Kroc who joined McDonald in 1955 as a franchise agent, and eventually bought the fast food chain from the McDonald brothers. Or Fred Deluca, co-founder and president of Subway and William Rosenberg who created Dunkin’ Donuts, their stories are almost identical. The desire to describe to “want-to-be” franchisors how they conceptualize the idea for a franchise is always present. They incessantly provide detailed account of the step by step process of the planning stage, and finally how they got to the implementation phase of their franchise. This blog entry, however, is different and unique. I am taking the initiative to explore and discuss a concept for a franchise that has been discussed by many but has yet to come to fruition. Therefore, my question to readers is as follows: can a good entrepreneur franchise the international shipping business from the Eastern Seaboard of the United States to Haiti? I am looking forward to reading some of your input and feedback.
First and foremost, before starting any business venture, an entrepreneur has to get all his/her ducks in a row. In this particular instance, it means having the right expertise, enough capital, and your immediate family’s support before you start working on having your first retail location, the single store that will hopefully serve as your operating prototype. Don’t put the cart before the horse by rushing into renting an expensive back office -e.g., an executive suite – without having first a strong customer base. There are so many factors to consider. For instance, 1) Is the international shipping business from the U.S. to Haiti franchisable? 2) Can my personal life handle such an arduous process? 3) Is my significant other fully on board? and lastly 4) Can I afford (money wise and in terms of mental commitment) to tackle a project of that magnitude? The litmus test for this project is to spend at least 6 months in your first retail location and be 100% involved in its day-to-day operations. That valuable experience will help you determine whether you are in this for the long haul and whether you have a proven operation and money-making prototype that’s absolutely necessary before you begin to consider having your next retail location. For the purpose of this blog entry, let’s say that the local customers are buying your products and services like hot cakes, and consequently, you make a sizable profit every month while manage to keep your overhead fairly low. Are you with me on this? Better yet, are you now ready to take your stand-alone store to the next level?
The prototype or working model I have in mind for this project, is a one-stop shop that sells moving and shipping supplies and specializes in courier services and Less than Container Load (LCL) International Shipping Service. Here is the hard part: a business idea is deemed franchisable for 3 specific reasons. 1) It’s profitable, 2) It can be replicated, and 3) It has a documented system that’s easy for others to follow. It is crucial at this juncture to understand that franchising is a separate business from running a “mom and pop” store or the back office of a retail shipping business. As a franchise owner, you would need to devote full-time to creating a much bigger and challenging business system. To proceed to the next step, you would need to hire a consultant that would help all interested parties determine that this franchise idea is solid, and then assist the main stakeholders with finding ways of becoming well-capitalized.
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