Should I Buy a Security Franchise #1 :: What Do I Really Want?

So you’re considering buying a contract security franchise? Great! Why? What’s the promise that’s attracting you? What does that greener side look like?

Is it freedom? Autonomy? The sense that you’re working for yourself and can “be your own boss?” Or how about the brand, system, and industry clout? Advertising? Rapid growth? Proven model? Less risk? A “safe” investment?

Maybe you’re afraid of failure. Everyone’s afraid of failure, to greater and lesser degrees, but do you think a franchise will make failure less likely?

Maybe building a business from scratch sounds like more work than just buying a franchise. Or maybe it’s not about the work required. Maybe you just don’t know where to get started.

I can appreciate the appeal of a proven model, an established brand, and a leg up. Whatever your rationale for considering franchising, you’re likely either reconsidering, experiencing buyer’s remorse (hopefully not), or you’re validating your gut impulse to “go for it.” There’s definitely a reason you’re reading this.

Through nearly a decade of working as a franchise vendor, I’ve made a lot of acquaintances, some friends, hopefully not too many enemies, and I’ve heard a lot of stories. I’ve even been a shoulder to cry on. I’ve listened to them all, taken them in, given advice where I can, and, in the process, I’ve gained some lasting insight. I had the pleasure of talking with a prospective franchisee that was really doing their due diligence, and they asked for my advice on whether or not to buy. I understand calling a bunch of existing franchisees and getting their opinions, but to call a vendor? That’s going the extra mile. They called me as part of their research and validation, and I was happy to talk about my experience. This article is a distillation of that and many other similar conversations.

What Do I Really Want?

We’ve all bought that gym membership, right? We got to the other end of our holiday hedonism, made New Year’s resolutions, and determined to finally do something about our diets or sedentary lifestyle (hopefully both). So we got revved up and sprung for the expense. If you’re like me, maybe you even showed up and started a program. More money. More time. But what about the results? How long did you keep going back? Long enough to see any results? I bet you waited a lot longer than you originally anticipated you would. I bet you worked 10 times harder than you expected you’d work before you even began to notice the results.

Don’t confuse the assistance for the work. In the end, I didn’t really want a gym membership and associated fees. I really just wanted to be healthy and look better naked.

Desire vs Motivation vs Results

A gym membership is a great analysis of desire vs motivation vs results. What’s driving your motivation? The desire, or the results? Those are completely different things. You may have the desire to look like America’s Next Top Ninja Warrior, or whatever’s on TV these days. Hell, everyone has the desire to at least improve the way they eat, or work, or look, or the size of their bank account. But how many are really motivated enough by that desire to see it through to at least some results? What are you going to do today to take that first step, or first rep, or that first set? Because getting results means becoming a new you, following a new routine, doing something different for an extended period of time; maybe indefinitely. It takes a transformation. All-star athletes don’t just wake up one day with accolades and multi-million-dollar contracts, or the fame that’s usually associated. They had to have a desire for results that was so intense that it motivated them to eventually get to the results they first could only dream about. Somewhere along the way, the results became the motivating factor for their continued action. It usually takes a long, long time to get from initial desire to any results; let alone the results you can only dream about.

You might ask what any of that has to do with buying a security franchise. Well, as it turns out… a lot. Stay with me. I ran my first full marathon 5 years ago, and traveled across Nebraska just a few weeks later… entirely on a bicycle. I’ve never been in better shape in all my life, and I can tell you that having a gym membership didn’t get me there. Hard damn work did. Hitting the pavement 4 or 5 times a week, sometimes for hours at a time, did. Eating the right diet, and getting good sleep did. Relationships that had nothing to do with the gym held me accountable and provided me encouragement when I needed it.

You Gotta Do the Work

When I bought a gym membership, I did so because I thought it would give me structure. I thought it would provide discipline, and a leg up (no pun) on my fitness goals. I bought the gadgets and the protein bars and the shakes. I went all in. I did all the things, but I didn’t really get the results that I was hoping for until I did the work. The real, gritty, dirty, tiresome, and stupid repetitive work. The stuff most people don’t want to do. The stuff that I find myself making excuses about all the time. Most of that “stuff” happened outside the gym. Critical decisions made multiple times a day about how I managed my time, and diet, and work. In fact, most of the real transformative work happened on the pavement, miles away from the nearest gym.

The gym came secondary to the work. Sure, it came in handy to surround myself with equipment that could be used at any time or in any circumstance, and a culture of fitness, and deals on programs, nutrition, and other perks. It was good to be involved with like-minded people that could at least inspire or encourage me to keep going, or provide me with guidance and advice, but it wasn’t the defining factor in getting results. It turns out I didn’t need a gym membership to run a marathon. I just thought I did before actually doing the real work.

Be Honest With Yourself

So you have a desire somewhere that’s compelling you or compelled you to consider buying a security franchise. But is a franchise what you really want? What is your desired result? I can understand buying a McDonald’s franchise. If you really want to sell actual Big Macs to the public, a Mickey Dees franchise is currently the only way to make that happen. But if that’s all you really wanted to do, you could always just apply for that job. You don’t need to own a store to sell Big Macs. Ah ha! So there’s something. You want to own your own business. Or you want the name and system behind one of the most successful franchises in history. Now we’re getting somewhere.

Do you want to take the easy road, or at least what you perceive to be the easy road? Do you think you can do that and make a ton of money? Be honest. If that’s your reasoning behind deciding to buy a franchise, you may want to reconsider. Buying a franchise will not make you rich. Doing the work will. Franchising may make starting easier, and may make certain aspects of the work easier, but buying a franchise doesn’t excuse you from doing the work to successfully run a business. Running your own business, or running a franchise will most likely require more work than you can possibly imagine unless you’ve done it all before. Even then, your past experience may not be the best predictor of future requirements or success. So if you’re doing the work anyway, in either case, does buying a franchise still make sense?

Don’t Confuse the Assistance for the Work

Ok, so maybe it’s not about avoiding hard work. Maybe you think it’s about the value. Great, so:

  1. What value are you getting out of a franchise that you couldn’t find elsewhere?
  2. How much are you going to pay for that value in return?
  3. Does the security franchise you’re considering have what you really want?
  4. Do you have to go through them to get it?

Maybe you really crave being in business for yourself, aren’t allergic to protracted and hard work, but just want the head start and perks the franchise claims to offer.

Don’t confuse the assistance for the work. In the end, I didn’t really want a gym membership and associated fees. I really just wanted to be healthy and look better naked. The gym was only a small fraction of what it took to get there, and a fraction that I didn’t actually need. To be sure, coaching, support, mentorship, and advisors are critical elements. A support network is often the unsung hero of every success, but are there alternative approaches to those things that don’t involve franchising?

The Price of Accountability Can Be Steep

Are you worried that you might need the accountability to stay motivated? If the difference between success or failure comes down to the work you put in, you can achieve the results you desire if you have the right motivation. To be sure, continued motivation often requires accountability. Here’s the thing, a franchise operation isn’t going to provide you that motivation. Like a gym membership, they can give you tools to succeed, tools that you’ll definitely pay for, but whether and how you use them makes the difference. Motivation has to come from within, and if you think you need a franchise to run a successful business, or a gym to run a marathon… think again. How much do you want to pay for accountability? Is a chunk of your business, paid monthly, the right way to buy the accountability you worry you might need? Or can that come from other trusted sources, ones that won’t charge you an arm and a leg for the favor? Ones that might have your best interests in mind at every step in the journey?

Go in with Eyes Wide Open

Maybe franchising is what you really want. That’s cool. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that… if you’ve done your due diligence. If you’ve put some good thought into it, and you still want to go that route, then do yourself the courtesy and favor of really doing your homework. You should be walking into that contract with eyes wide open. Here are four questions that you should already be asking yourself:

  1. What am I prepared to give?
  2. What am I really getting?
  3. Will I have real ownership?
  4. Do we share a common vision?

Thanks for reading the first in our Security Franchise Series. Please check out our next installment: What Am I Prepared to Give?

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