A swift route to having your own business?

The ins and outs of going for a franchise business

Buying a franchise can be a rapid way to get a business going: especially as more and more global brands look to build their presence in the UAE and GCC, and as the capital required is usually less than for other start-ups options. Equally, with less than 5% of international franchises failing commercially, it’s also a relatively sound strategy.

So what should you look for in a franchising opportunity? We’ve set out seven key considerations. The first four are true of any franchise opportunity; the others are more specific to this region.

  1. The key thing to remember is that joining any franchise network is a two-way process: the franchisor is assessing your suitability at the same time as you’re weighing up the opportunity they’re offering. Steer clear of anything that doesn’t have this feel to it.
  2. Equally, there should be a robust process in place to ensure both parties fully understand each other, and that you’re happy with the commitments, systems and support you’re signing up to. You should involve a specialist advisor when it comes to any legal documents, unless you are absolutely confident in your business management and financial knowledge.
  3. Be clear about your motivation for pursuing a franchise opportunity. Such clarity will not only help you; the franchisor may also want to know. Don’t rely on them telling you there’s a local market for their goods/services – do your own research, planning and SWOT analysis. Even if you’re not definite yet, it also might be a good idea to have an outline timeframe in mind: for example 10 years to build the business before selling and retiring.
  4. Be aware of the bigger picture. Ask how many franchisees have been set up in the last 12 months, and how many more are planned for the next 12 months. You don’t want to suddenly find yourself in a saturated market, or working with an organization that has overstretched its support system.
  5. The UAE has comprehensive costs and legalities involved in starting any kind of business. There are ways to manage these effectively – such as using a freezone for registration etc – but you need to clearly agree who is responsible for them, and discuss what impact they have on the standard franchise model.
  6. Some franchises will provide global solutions for certain activities: for example, marketing and social media. They may expect or even demand that you adopt these. You need to be sure these will work within the UAE’s cultural framework.
  7. Ask questions, and talk to others who have been down this road. You also might want to attend the Franchise Expo UAE, usually held around October in Dubai. As with many aspects of business, nothing beats learning from others.


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