Personal Trainers Assessing A Franchise Information Pack / Prospectus – 14 Things To Look & Check For By Erak Simsson Founder & Director of Coach Me Slim & Trim®

The franchise information pack, also known as the prospectus, is a document sent out by the franchisor.  The purpose of the document is to showcase the business opportunity to individuals that have expressed an interest. It should also serve to answer a number of basic questions regarding the opportunity.

These documents are usually not intended to sell the franchise, but instead are used to open up discussions and possible meetings.

Franchisors will usually allow you to download their information pack directly from their websites. The nice thing about that is you don’t have to speak to anybody and you can read about the opportunity at your own leisure.

This is by no means a definitive list but will help you to quickly and easily assess a number of information packs.

Here goes 14 things to check for:

1. The Look of The Information Pack
If you’re going to be expected to spend a few thousand pounds then this document should look as though it has been produced professionally. Having said that – which would you prefer, a glossy looking professional document with only vague information or a less impressive looking one with lots of solid information?

2. Contents
As obvious as this may sound you would be amazed at how many franchisors send out information packs in a less than organised manner. By clearly laying out a contents pages a) it makes your navigation through the document far easier and b) shows a degree of logical thinking and thoughtfulness by the franchisor.

3. A Brief Introduction Into The Service
This sets the scene and helps you to be able to quickly understand where the business opportunity is positioning itself, which enables you to decide early on whether it sounds like something that would really be of interest you.

4. Your Success
Franchising depends upon the success of it’s franchisees so reading a statement or being shown some sort of diagram outlining how your success is going to be achieved indicates that the franchisor has a clear plan of action to help you. The lack of such information may show a lack of real thought about your success.

5. Who They Are Looking For
This will provide you with an opportunity to match your skills and talents against what the franchisor is looking for in a potential franchisee. Normally enthusiasm, energy and commitment to becoming successful will feature above qualifications and experience as the latter can be taught and gained over time, the former however is that rare commodity that the franchisor is looking for. Please don’t misunderstand; qualifications and experience are also excellent things to have.

6. Your Sources of Income
It goes without saying the information pack should indicate what your earning potential can be. Expect to see a range of possible incomes, lower, middle and upper end. For Personal Training / Coaching which is conducted out of gyms, homes, corporate offices or private hirings you may only see gross income projected as operating costs can vary dramatically. Be very mindful of claims in excess of £50k+ as they will usually show you working between 30 – 40 sessions per week of one to one which is doable, but you must also consider that you are going to need time to market your business consistently, client service, general business administration, service development or implementation of new services – oh yes, and have a family / social life. Ideally your sources of income should come from a range of related services e.g. one to one, one to two, corporate work and coaching & training small classes. The increased numbers from one to one to small groups or corporate work allows you to generate a higher hourly rate e.g. one to one may be £35 per hour versus corporate £75 per hour. Also be mindful of regional differences, within the larger cities £40 – £70+ per hour are not uncommon, these prices may not be achievable in smaller, less affluent, areas.

7. Your Support Franchise Package
This section should outline what will be given to you to support your immediate and long term growth and success. A crucial document that should be mentioned in this section is the ‘Operations Manual’.   This is the blueprint for your future success.

8. The Training Package
Clear objectives need to be achieved during your training. A wishy washy, ‘we will tailor the training around your needs’ may mean that there are no clear training objectives. Remember, you’re thinking about buying a proven system; surely they must have a system for training you? The duration for a weight loss franchise should be between 3 – 5 days depending upon the quality and detail gone into. Training packages should not assume prior knowledge other than your core skills as a personal trainer. If a company is making an assumption you already have marketing and sales skills this crucial area may be skipped over and this is probably the most important area of your training – ask questions about it.  And don’t accept you’ll be given some flyers and brochures; we all know about those.

9. Your Franchise Investment
So what are you going to get for your money? Everything! Yes everything that you require to be able to walk out of your training and literally start building your business from day one. You have been give the training so it’s about things that you will now physically take away.  This should include all marketing & sales materials, (lead generation materials also) stationery, equipment, any necessary licences, insurances (year 1 normally), any client support packs, Operations / How to Manual, uniform, telecommunication system – these are certainly some of the items you would expect to leave your training with. If you were able to buy these items yourself  (Operations Manual not possible), they would probably cost you more as the franchisor will have greater buying power, therefore receive a large discount which they can forward on to you.

10. Researched Background Into The Service Area You Are Considering Entering
This just shows that the franchisor is in touch with what is really happening within their service area. It also helps to identify opportunities now or in the future for franchisees. A reference or two are always reassuring to see.

11. A Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) Section
You can treat this as the franchisor trying to be as helpful to you as possible by answering some of the questions which they have been asked in the past; it also provides you with a certain degree of confidence when you see your question on the sheet – it means you’re thinking this through as thoroughly as other people. The FAQ section should not be page after page, if the remainder of the document has done its job. Also by not trying to answer every single question that you may have it allows you to discuss this with franchisor, which is your opportunity to assess the franchisor by the quality of the answers that they may not have thought about, that would be interesting.

12. Testimonies
There absolutely must be some testimonies of some description either about other franchisees or about clients who have used the service which you are considering buying into. Other successful franchisees may not always be available – it is feasible that in the relatively new area of Personal Training franchising you could be getting involved in a new company in which case they may not have any franchisees that you are able to speak with. Failing that they should have a number of bona fide testimonials singing the praises about the service which you will be offering should you become involved. In some respects testimonials about the service are more important than testimonials from other franchisees – why? Well,  think about it, if your franchisor has a generic website that promotes your service what is going to help your prospective client buy your service of weight loss coaching and training, a testimonial from a franchisee or one from a satisfied client saying how they lost weight and increased their fitness and energy levels? Client testimonials i.e. the end user, the overweight person, are worth their weight in gold – why? – Social proof; most people will look for it.

13. Your Franchise Business Trainers
Running a franchise of any description is going to take more than just being good at delivering your core product, the perfect ‘press up’.  You have to be taught how to run a business which is going to require a wide range of skills including marketing, sales, accounts, administration and more. Your trainers should be experts in their respective areas. A one man training operation will lack the depth of knowledge across all of the business areas which means you will end up with second rate business training.

14. Your Next Step

There should be a clear call to action if you are interested in finding out more. Typically this will involve ringing a centralised number and arranging for a one to one meeting or attending a discovery day. Discovery days are open events when a number of potential franchisees get together and listen to the franchisor explain the business concept, show off some of the support materials and it gives the potential franchisors the opportunity to ask some more questions.

There you have it – 14 things to look for within a franchise prospectus.