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How to choose the right franchising opportunity in the UAE

How to choose the right franchising opportunity in the UAE

Longevity, relevance and economic robustness play a crucial role

If done right, a franchise has the opportunity to be a hugely successful investment in the UAE today. From sports to retail, food trading to education, franchises combine established brands with local understanding of markets and the consumers within them. The UAE is particularly popular for franchises, but what makes a franchise really worth investing in?

Let’s start from the beginning. We know that establishing a business is hard. There are numerous steps involved in the set-up process, and even then, you can’t guarantee success even if you dedicate yourself to the company 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

This is where franchises have an advantage, as they allow you to buy into an existing entity. In addition to being an established and presumably successful enterprise with details such as branding and so on already in place, a franchise offers structure to guide the launch, operation, and growth of a business. Think of investing in a franchise as similar to moving into a fully-furnished home as opposed to building a house from the ground up. The walls and roof are solid, the décor and furniture are to your liking, and you’re joining a community of like-minded and hopefully supportive neighbors. Everything is ready-made for you to start living in – all you have to do is add your personal touches.

In the case of a franchise, this should include localising the offering to meet the needs of your market and target consumers. That may mean adding a dish inspired by local tastes alongside international favorites for a food franchise, or customising the portfolio to include more modest clothing in a fashion franchise. This is where your local knowledge and expertise comes into play. Individuals buying into a franchise enjoy benefits that most small business owners don’t have access to. These can include larger advertising budgets supported by global campaigns; recognised trademarks, patents, designs and so on; brand guidelines that determine everything from marketing collateral to store layouts; internal culture and development resources for training staff, and much more.

There is also a lower risk of failure when investing in a franchise as opposed to starting your own business. Many aspects – such as those listed above – are tried and tested, therefore decreasing the potential for lost investment. So if franchises have the potential to be lucrative investments – how do you choose the right one?

Choose longevity. While it may be tempting to hop aboard the latest fad, it pays to consider that most trends are fleeting. Look at the biggest fads of the last year, five years, decade – how many are still relevant now? When looking for a franchise to invest in, choose a business that has proven staying power.

Choose relevance. What works in one market may not work in another. For example, a store focusing on winter-relevant garments may be successful in the US or Europe, but it is likely to work as well in a warm climate as there is less demand.

Choose economic robustness. You don’t want to invest in a business that cannot withstand economic uncertainty. Certain businesses provide necessary services regardless of the environment – such as education, healthcare, even supermarkets. Buying into a business that offers nice-to-have services may not deliver results if circumstances change.

Mohammad A. Baker is the Deputy Chairman and CEO of Gulf Marketing Group

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