Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Setting Expectations on Buying a Franchise

SmallBizResource Blog -- SmallBizResource

Q&A With Franchise King Joel Libava

Posted by Gayle Kesten Tuesday, Apr 7, 2009, 09:00 AM ET
You know the saying, "If the shoe fits, wear it"? Well, make it a crown, and Joel Libava wears it well.
Libava, president of Cleveland-based franchise consulting firm Franchise Selection Specialists, says he didn't aspire to be his own boss, but at a certain point during his career, he knew what he didn't want: to work for other people. In 2001, when Libava was canned (his words) from a management position at an automobile franchise, his father, Jerry, encouraged him to join (and eventually take over) the franchise consultancy, which he had founded in the late '80s to help match franchisors with franchisees. Libava has been there ever since. "Even though business is tough, and there's a lot of nervousness and caution out there, I love what I do," he says.
PhotobucketAbout the nickname: Libava was appointed the Franchise King title at a chamber of commerce event about six years ago. "The director, who knew me, looked across the room and said, 'Hey, it's the Franchise King!' It just kind of stuck," he told me. "It's not an ego thing -- it's more of a branding thing to separate myself from others."
Libava, whose blog is the only one tax expert Barbara Weltmanregularly follows, has one of those (Internet) radio-type voices that commands attention, too. In addition, last year he wrote an e-book, "The Essential Steps To Researching A Franchise Opportunity," plus he's a featured blogger on American Express' OPEN Forum and Anita's Campbell's Small Business Trends Website.
Libava and I had what you'd call a Franchising 101 conversation, during which he shed light on what it costs to buy into a franchise, where people go wrong in choosing one, and why it's an excellent opportunity for someone who doesn't want to reinvent the business wheel.
SBR: How would one first go about learning about franchising?
 Most people start by going to one of the numerous franchise directories. They see a handsome tile ad, and they click on it and think it might be interesting to own a chicken wing joint. I was taught to do the reverse. One has to start with himself: What do I bring to the table? What am I good at? What am I not good at? Can I sell? Do I have the ability and desire to call on people, kind of a business-to-business type opportunity, or am I more of an operations, back-of-the-house person? That's how a lot of people really blow it.

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