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SBDC holds workshop for franchise seekers

Cathey Petkash, a franchise advisor with FranNet, offered tips and advice at a SBDC workshop Thursday. Petkash told the group that one advantage of buying a franchise is they’ve already “worked out the kinks.”

Cathey Petkash, a franchise advisor with FranNet, offered tips and advice at a SBDC workshop Thursday. Petkash told the group that one advantage of buying a franchise is they’ve already “worked out the kinks.”

ALBANY, Ga. — About a dozen area franchise hopefuls gathered at the Small Business Development Center on Pine Avenue here Thursday for some straight talk on what it takes to make it in the business world.

Among the first things attendees were told by franchise advisor Cathey Petkash at the free workshop, titled “5 Proven Steps to Choosing a Winning Franchise,” was how to fail in selecting, purchasing or operating a new business.

According to Petkash, failing is easy to do and can come from financial overextension, reluctance in following the rules set forth by the franchisor or, ironically, choosing a product or service the franchisee is not passionate about.

Petkash represents FranNet, a company providing no-cost tips, information and research for individuals or groups interested in purchasing a franchise.

On the positive side, Petkash said the standardization and name recognition of franchises can offer great opportunities for income and independence.

“They’ve already worked out the kinks,” she said. “So all you have to do is follow the rules.”

While franchises are available at total costs of around $50,000 for some service-oriented outfits all the way to the current $2 million for a new McDonald’s, Petkash said that anything focusing on care for the elderly, education of children or on pet care is particularly hot in today’s market. She emphasized the importance of choosing a business suited to the franchisee’s personality and temperament.

“You’ve got to be able to have fun with it,” Petkash said.

A franchisee can expect to pay a fixed start-up fee for an individual business, then ongoing royalties, which, depending on the franchise, might be fixed monthly amounts or established percentages of income. In return, owners benefit not only from franchise name recognition but from various services provided by the franchisor.

According to FranNet, while no more than 12 percent of businesses in North America are franchised, they account for more than 50 percent of retail sales.

Petkash said some of the considerations to be made before jumping to a franchise decision should involve geography, or prospects for profit in a particular location; total cost of the particular franchise; whether the franchise is affordable; and transferable skills, or skills coming to the business from past experience.

Business skills are more important than specific service or product talent, Petkash said. Also important for the franchisee is a reasonable expectation of what the business will provide.

“What are you really looking for?” Petkash asked. “What do you what to change?”