Going Independant???

We have operated as a franchisee for several years and our contract with the franchise is up. We are considering going independant because we have grown apart from the franchise both in philosophy and in our business/personal relationship.

My concern is that we have built a good reputation in our area and with times being as lean as they are it may not be a good time to rock the boat. My partner assures me that our customer base would remain solid as they know my face and name and as long as I am still highly visible they will know that it is the same operation with a diff name on the door and a more creative menu.

Other than our dough, none of our basic ingredients would change, and I am still trying to nail down the dough recipe/procedure we would use so there would not be a dramatic change there.

Have any of you think tankers done this transition and if so, what was your experience?

In a forum such as this, I suspect you will get a lot of encouragement.

We did it three years ago with all new signage, logo, colors, menus, website, uniforms etc. and to this day we still have customers that have not noticed. Unless you change your product, the transition is smoother than you think.

As I recall there has been previous discussions on this subject…So you might want to search the archives…Some made the transition with good results, whereas, others ended up in disaster…The problem is no matter how hard you research, you are still making guesses about what the end result will be…So it will not be an easy decision…

Will you be able to maintain a similar price point?..Will you be able to maintain a similar level of marketing bearing in mind that doing it on you own may be more costly than a group effort?..Are there other franchise stores in the area that might take some of your existing clients?..Will your clients like your new product versus what they have been getting?..Will you old franchise open up a new store to compete with you?..

Good luck…

PS…I had a couple clients that dropped a franchise and went independent…The former company opened a couple new stores and “pummeled” them with marketing…After a few months they were heading so far in the hole that they had to sign on with a new franchise and reload…If not for all the marketing support from the new franchise I am afraid they would have gone out of business…

Royce makes a good point. A “strong” company can make things difficult for you.

Not all Franchises are created equal. If it was a strong regional player or a national I would have serious questions about leaving. As pointed out above, they could bury you faster than you think. One key question is who has the rights to the phone number. Often franchise agreements make that the property of the franchisor. If that is the case and you are a delco, it is something you would want to have clearly settled before making a decision. They could open a new location with “your” phone number!

One key question - will you definitely keep the phone number? Check your franchise agreement - without the existing tel phone you’d be starting from scratch IMO.

Good luck!

Thank you all for your advice so far, I did search many ways for the topic, but was unable to come up with anything, I guess it depended on how it was worded previously.

Pirate I appreciate the words of encouragement, did you have any problems with the franchisor trying to block your success?

Steve and Wiz, we had not even considered the phone number issue, we will have to look over the agreement tonight. That is why you guys are so valuable, it never occured to us that we would not have ownership of a phone number since we set up the account in our name.

Royce I really don’t think the franchise would do that, now if they had a potential franchisee in the area that would be a different story but who has money to loan now for a start-up?