A hamburger by any other name…

As you narrow your franchise search, you have many things to consider before choosing that one concept you are going to dedicate another 10 or so years of your lifetime to. May be the product you sell among those considerations? Should it be? And in the event that you know what category you find attractive, how do you select from similar products? Is a hamburger always a hamburger?

Franchise Zone spoke with Stephen Spinelli, co-founder of Jiffy Lube and director of the Arthur M. Blank Center for Entrepreneurship at Babson College in Wellesley, Massachusetts, about the role products should play in choosing a franchise.

Franchise Zone: What should people look at specifically if they begin looking into franchising?

Stephen Spinelli: Focus on what’s hot. Prospective franchisees have two different perspectives: The first one may be the brand-name issue. Many people want to own a McDonald’s. There could be some allure to Midas Muffler or Jiffy Lube or Dunkin’ Donuts, because those are well-established brands, plus they carry some visceral belief that they are successful–if they are around all of this time, they need to make money, and there’s some logic compared to that. The second perspective may be the what’s hot, new-on-the-block kinds of things: an Internet or computer service or a fresh food, a new and various name that appears to be growing pretty fast. Folks are excited to can get on that wave, and that type of begins the search. Or they could focus on this dual perspective, and narrow their focus.

In this initial investigation, as long as they be taking into consideration the products these different brands are available?

Clearly, they should. But I probably have the minority opinion upon this: I really believe [a prospective franchisee] should think about how a customer may use the merchandise and the sustainability of this product versus personal passion for the merchandise. Many people, including several entrepreneurship professors, will say you need to love the merchandise you’re dealing with and selling. I don’t believe there’s anything wrong with that, although the term passion means various things to differing people.

A far more valuable perspective says, "I believe the product or service can truly help my customers, and I’m worked up about that." That’s a lot more sustaining, personally and professionally, than saying, "I really like sports, so I’ll buy a Play It Again Sports franchise." Becoming too ephemeral may detach you from the viability of the idea, but in the event that you investigate the product and discover lots of people need this or it could make their lives better, then your passion has a lot more depth. That’s where I’d encourage visitors to focus their search when it comes to the merchandise or service.

You gave the exemplory case of someone liking sports and purchasing a Play It Again Sports franchise. If people do have that sort of passion for just one particular thing, could they maintain danger of focusing an excessive amount of using one segment?

Yes, and that may block the way at times. I really like food, so do I would like to own a restaurant? There’s an environment of difference between likely to an excellent restaurant and enjoying dinner together with your spouse versus owning and operating that restaurant. Some individuals could make that connection between their personal interests and delivering that interest for other folks, but I don’t see that it is a required component [for success], and sometimes it can block the way.

Whenever a person has narrowed down his or search to a particular kind of franchise–say, a hamburger restaurant–how does the merchandise factor in to the choice between a McDonald’s and a Wendy’s?

This problem arose in early stages with Wendy’s. The "where’s the beef?" commercial was a primary reflection of the Wendy’s franchisees’ belief that their hamburger was simply better–it was bigger, juicier and fresher. Whether it had been or not, they believed it, and that belief really pushed them forward to having the ability to enter the marketplace. When Wendy’s entered the marketplace, everyone said, "How will you open another hamburger franchise? Are you crazy?" however they really believed in the merchandise and that the client was under-served by the other competitors available on the market.

This dramatic belief was specifically mounted on satisfying the necessity of the client. It wasn’t necessarily, "I really like hamburgers, which hamburger is just a little better, so I’ll choose that one." It had been, "People love hamburgers, and our hamburgers will satisfy more folks." You take that knowledge of the merchandise and project it to customers.

Therefore the customers should be a significant consideration in virtually any franchise you select?

It must be absolutely at the core, and the merchandise should only be considered a reflection of the necessity of the client.

Should a franchisee’s opinions on the merchandise enter into play when trying to determine other’s needs?

You might not be a precise reflection of the needs of the broader audience. If you believe the square hamburger is a crazy idea, does which means that you mustn’t buy a Wendy’s franchise? You need to be careful about this.

Is it feasible for franchisees to reach your goals with something they either can’t stand or avoid?

It’s an extremely interesting question. Would you be considered a franchisee of McDonald’s in the event that you were a vegetarian? My general belief is that there surely is probably a spectrum. EASILY believe eating meat is evil, it might be a fairly dramatic mistake to open a McDonald’s franchise. EASILY think McDonald’s hamburgers are absolutely perfect no you need to ever eat other things, I’ll oftimes be blinded in different ways rather than as successful as I possibly could be. If you are on either extreme of the spectrum, you should exclude yourself from that service or product.

More toward the center, I’m less concerned. I love to have a hamburger once in a while, but I don’t eat it each day. I’m not really a great car buff, but I really believe changing your oil extends the life span of your vehicle and losing the used oil in an effective way produces a sound environment. It’s an extremely complicated group of variables which makes up my perspective on the product–you probably have to consider the depth of your perspectives.

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