When you think about owning your franchise business, what are you imagining?
You work the same 40 hours each week that you do now. Those hours include tasks like visioning, networking, taking people to lunch, and providing high-level empowerment for your staff.
You set your own hours, opening and closing when you feel like it and reveling in your excellent new level of work/life balance.
You work while the kids are in school, slowing down in the summers and picking back up when the kids are back in school.
You drop by the shop to pick up the money, and otherwise you hang out on the beach, trusting your employees to take care of everything for you.
If any of these scenarios sounds like what you think your life will be like, you are probably being unrealistic.
Some franchises allow part-time work and you can work around other responsibilities, but there’s a reason that you can’t usually find a job like that. After all, a business that is only open when you feel like it or when you find it convenient can’t be expected to succeed when competitors keep extensive regular hours. If you’re working for pocket change or just for fun, this might work out for you. Don’t think you can pull down a full time income with a part-time business.
Some franchises require specific business hours. It’s part of the system to keep your franchise location open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. — or 6:00 a.m. to midnight. If you are not at the store or office, then someone else has to be. If your budget allows you to cover all the hours without taking on any of the hands-on work yourself, then you can staff your business with other people and spend your time building up the business.
Sometimes the location you’re in will require certain hours, too. You may have to match the general hours of the mall you’re in, for example.
Some franchises require full-time commitments but let franchisees set their own hours, especially if you’re offering services by appointment. In that case, you can choose your hours and cover them yourself or with hired help. However, the franchise system will designed with the expectation that you will work full time on sales and other activities designed to grow the business.
While growing your business will require visioning and taking people to lunch, there will also be more active work. Some franchisees find that they’re working 80 hours a week while they get their businesses up and running. One owner told us, “I stick with half days — 12 hours.” Few find that they’re doing only 40 hours a week. The payoff comes a few years later, when they can relax and enjoy the fruits of their labor.
Ask franchisors how many hours franchisees usually work, and also ask current franchisees. But remember that in business, time and money are often a trade-off. Making sure that you have the capital to pay workers during the early years will keep those years from being as grueling as they will be if you have to be chief cook and bottle washer along with owning and running the business. Being happy with slower growth and a lower income can also reduce the number of hours you have to put in.