A carpenter by training, Jérémy Gilliard gradually specialized in the installation of kitchens. Meticulous, he began to work with kitchen designers and landed great contracts. “I made friends with people in networks and I wanted to become a franchisee myself,” he recalls. Our entrepreneur thinks, discusses, then makes his choice: an actor on a human scale, Elton Cuisines.
“I appreciated the family identity, the closeness with the people in management. I was already installing kitchens for them, so I knew their way of working and the quality of their products. And then, there was a feeling, ”says Jérémy, who opened his shop near Lyon. A location, which he considers “exceptional”, and which he won thanks to his franchisor. Six months after the opening, things seem to be off to a good start!
Every year, if we put aside the year 2020 and its confinements, the number of franchisees is only growing. The figures of the Federation show it: they were 58,000 in 2010, 75,000 in 2018 and more than 79,000 today, for an annual turnover of 69 billion. Suffice to say that this way of doing business, more surrounded and supervised, seduces the French ready to start.
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Concretely, what is it? The principle is simple: the collaboration takes the form of a contract between two companies, the franchisor and the franchisee. In exchange for an entry fee and a royalty on the turnover, fixed in the contract, the franchisee takes over the concept and the codes of the sign, its products, commercial and technical practices, but also its assistance when needed. The “newbie” is accompanied, often trained, in order to master the uses and habits. The contract is fixed for a given period (five to ten years), often renewable.
This support is precisely what Nicolas Bohl appreciated the most. Previously employed in a ceramics factory, he hears about the franchise from a friend and begins to inquire. Passionate about cars, he fell in love with CosmétiCar, which specializes in waterless car washes at home. The contact passes, Nicolas gets a credit and starts. “From the start, everything went smoothly. I received the starter pack, with the necessary material. The new franchisees have a two-week technical training at the head office, where we study washing but also communication, mastery of social networks, the commercial aspect, profitability, pricing strategy, “he explains. .
The passage of the commercial director to help him win his first contracts with professionals in his sector was also a plus. “I opened in August 2021 and I didn’t have a single day of a hole,” rejoices Nicolas, delighted with this turnkey success.
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Same first name, very different profile: Nicolas Muniz is a restaurant owner in Brittany. Already multi-entrepreneur, he decided to try the adventure with Mustache ice cream. “To create my own ice cream, on my own, I would have needed a laboratory, craftsmen, a diploma as an ice cream maker… There, it’s very comfortable, the Mustache ice cream is delicious, I receive it directly, the network manages the advertising , the window, the signage. For a retraining, it’s ideal, ”he confirms, already at the head of two Mustache franchises, in Carnac and Quiberon, with his wife. The business is going even better than expected: for Carnac, he was counting on 250,000 euros in turnover, it is closer to 400,000!
Sole master on board
The fact of being helped in terms of communication is an undeniable plus, note our witnesses. “Thanks to the network, there was a promotion before the opening, it allows to start well, from the first day. If I had been alone, it would certainly have taken me months to make myself known… I don’t have the same tools and knowledge as marketing professionals!”, considers Jérémy Gilliard. This has a cost for franchisees: on average 1 to 3% of their turnover goes to advertising fees. This common pot represents a significant burden, but if it is well managed by the brand, it benefits everyone.
It all sounds great on paper. However, pay attention to several points. The first: to be aware that the franchisee, even if he receives sometimes substantial assistance, remains in control. He is a business owner! “It is indeed important to be aware of what it means to be independent: you will manage your business, your employees, your customers, your accounts… The implementation depends on the entrepreneur”, underlines Rose-Marie Less, director animation at the French Franchise Federation. If you have never had an entrepreneurial adventure, it can be useful to discuss with experienced people.
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Like any boss, the franchisee must give his time and his person. “He is on the move, there is no all-risk guarantee. This is why you have to choose your sector carefully according to what you like, what interests you, what you are ready to invest in. If you are not operational, autonomous, if you do not manage your teams on a daily basis, it does not work”, specifies Rose-Marie Less. Particularly in restaurants and retail, where working hours and working conditions quickly prove to be difficult.
The key point remains the choice of the network. Financial metrics are important, but so is the relationship with brand managers. By taking an interest in a sector, the future franchisee must make choices. Does he prefer an established brand? A promising newcomer?
Nathalie de Cnijf chose the first option. Consultant to managers for many years, she chose ActionCoach, which claims more than 1,000 locations: “I wanted to join a team, with a method and a recognized name, having proven themselves. My advice is to carefully analyze the reputation of the franchise before launching.” The brand’s reputation in this universe has served her well, she says.
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Maxence Lefort opted for the other solution. Having worked as a consultant after business school, he feels a desire to go elsewhere, in line with his values. Interested in zero waste, he came into contact with the creators of Drive all naked. “Discussing, we realized that we would have more impact together than by throwing each in our corner,” he recalls.
Result: he became the first franchisee of the network. “Of course, we have had the plaster, but we have also been able to co-construct everything, in mutual trust,” he explains. History seems to prove him right: Le Drive Tout Nu now has seven stores. But above all, the company has just raised 5 million and is aiming for around fifty openings by 2026. It’s up to you to sift through the specialized sites and scour the fairs to find the network that will also lead you to success!
The right questions to ask the franchisor
It is better to be well prepared before coming into contact with the signs. They are often selective, and for good reason: a bad choice of franchisee has consequences on their image… It will therefore be necessary to show their credentials, from the first contacts. Follow these tips from franchisors.
- “Inquire well before calling a network. Unprepared inquiries waste everyone’s time. I recommend that you have identified and clarified your own project beforehand. We have to understand each other well, that we have the same values and the same approach to the profession and to quality”, recommends Sylvie Bondil, “ice queen” of Saint-Malo and creator of the Mustache franchise.
- Some candidates take fright when they see that there is already a franchisee in the same city, but by dividing up the geographical sectors and working well together, this can become more of a help than a competition! We experienced it in Rouen, where two agencies divide the eastern and western zones, for example”, reassures Yannick Martinez, communication manager at CosmétiCar.
- “The relationship is essential, we are looking for people who like our approach and this job. The location must also make sense! The outskirts of large cities work well with our concept, for example. If we are offered a project in a rural area, we will have fewer certainties,” explains Salomé Géraud, co-founder of Drive Tout Nu.
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