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How to Franchise a Family Business 

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Franchising a family business presents a unique opportunity to expand a thriving family enterprise while maintaining its core values. Whether you own a small enterprise with family ties or a large multi-generational family business, franchising can be a great way to broaden your brand. This strategic move could allow a family-owned business to scale its operations, reach new markets and achieve sustainable growth. This article will explain how business owners can franchise their family business. 

1. Decide Whether Franchising is an Appropriate Method for Growth

Franchising can allow you to scale your family business rapidly without significant capital investment. Franchisees invest their capital to open new geographic locations, spreading financial risk. 

Franchising can be a good idea for family businesses as it offers a structured approach to succession planning. This method allows you and your family to maintain ownership and control over the core business while facilitating growth through franchise locations. 

Businesses that are typically franchisable possess several essential qualities, including the following: 

  • a proven concept; 
  • a business model that others can easily copy; and
  • demand for their product or service offering in further locations.

If your business fits within these categories, it likely has franchising potential. However, franchising might not be suitable for every family business due to the following reasons:

  • franchising involves relinquishing a degree of control over day-to-day operations and location management; 
  • navigating legal complexities can be time-consuming and costly; 
  • franchisees may have different priorities compared to that of the family business; and
  • franchising comes with financial implications for the franchisor and is not entirely risk-free. 

These are crucial considerations when it comes to franchising a family business. If you are considering franchising, seeking legal advice to determine whether franchising is suitable is a valuable idea. A lawyer can help you navigate the legal complexities of franchising and mitigate risk from the beginning of your franchising journey. 

To begin franchising, you will need to draft a robust franchise agreement. Franchise agreements are the cornerstone of all franchises. They are legally binding contracts that outline the franchisee and franchisor’s roles and responsibilities and the relationship’s terms. 

You must draft a franchise operations manual. You will provide this detailed document to new franchisees and continually update it as your franchise system develops. It outlines all aspects franchisees would need to know, such as:

  • your business model; 
  • marketing methods; and
  • recruitment processes.

A lawyer can help you draft the franchise agreement and franchise operations manual, protecting your business interests and ensuring they are both comprehensive and legally sound. 

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3. Intellectual Property Considerations

Intellectual property is a crucial part of franchising as it forms a vital part of a brand. It includes aspects such as logos, slogans and proprietary business methods. As a franchisor, you will provide franchisees with the right to use your brand’s intellectual property, so it is crucial to ensure you own your intellectual property rights. 

The British Franchise Association (BFA) stipulates that a franchisor should legally own their intellectual property. This standard is a requirement for BFA members and a franchising industry standard and best practice. Intellectual property ownership could be an essential consideration in a family business as, in some cases, it may be unclear who holds the rights to the business’s trade marks and patents. Therefore, before recruiting franchisees, ensure the intended franchisor owns all of the family business’s intellectual property rights. 

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4. Recruitment and Onboarding 

The final step to formally franchising a business is recruiting franchisees. As a family business, franchisees’ values and goals should align with your brand. Conduct interviews and thorough due diligence on each prospective franchisee to ensure compatibility. 

Once you have found a suitable candidate, you can present them with the franchise agreement and operations manual. Once they sign the franchise agreement, you can accept their initial franchise fee and begin to train them. Training should be comprehensive and prepare new franchisees to run a successful franchise under your brand.

Key Takeaways 

If you want to expand your family business through franchising, there are several crucial steps you must follow, including the following: 

  • deciding whether franchising is suitable for your business; 
  • seeking legal advice to inform your decision and support your franchising journey; 
  • drafting essential legal documents, such as the franchise agreement and operations manual; 
  • ensuring that you own the business’s intellectual property and can allow franchisees to use it; 
  • recruiting franchisees that align with your brand, conducting due diligence; and
  • training new franchisees to run a successful business under your brand. 

If you require legal advice about franchising a family business, our experienced franchise lawyers can assist as part of our LegalVision membership. For a low monthly fee, you will have unlimited access to lawyers to answer your questions and draft and review your documents. Call us today on 0808 196 8584 or visit our membership page

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Jessica Drew

Jessica Drew

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