Fact Check: If I buy a franchise, does that mean I’ll be flipping burgers?

When most people think of a franchise, their minds immediately think fast food. If this sounds like you, you’re not alone.

“I had a real lack of understanding about franchising. “When I thought of a franchise, I thought of something more traditional, like a fast food chain,” said Raymond Lee, CEO of careerminds, a national outplacement firm.

Fact: There are more than 3,000 franchise opportunities in the United States, most of which are not in the fast food sector.

Franchising is a major industry featuring more than 750,000 establishments in the United States and currently providing more than $800 billion in economic output annually. Fast food franchises make up barely 20 percent of them. (Click here to see IHS’ Franchise Business Economic Outlook for 2015.)

Wilds consults with clients of numerous outplacement firms on the truths and myths of franchising, and she says fast food is a common one.

“As consumers, we engage with franchises frequently through fast food restaurants. Everything from getting a donut and a cup of coffee in the morning, to where you grab a salad or a sandwich for lunch, to going through the drive-thru for dinner on the way home after work. And I haven’t even mentioned yet going for a frozen yogurt after soccer practice, or having pizza delivered to your home as you watch the big game on TV.”

Fast food restaurants are referred to as Quick Service Restaurants (QSRs), and because of the high demand we consumers place on them due to their branding, convenience, consistency and value, they typically enjoy an overwhelmingly successful track record.

Franchise opportunities are abundant, ranging from home-based businesses to multi-million dollar investments. Wilds has placed people in franchises from boutique fitness centers to IT services and in-home senior care. However, Wilds says that the only way to really know if franchising is right for you is to go through a learning process that is skills- and lifestyle-focused.

“Most people assume you can only buy yourself a job if you go the franchise route. Until people engage in our process, they have never heard of executive franchises or semi-absentee ones. These types of franchises are well-suited to people coming from the corporate world,” Wilds said. “Think about the skills they have as project managers, sales executives or business leaders. Whether they are in a staff position or management position, they have transferable skills that will serve them very well as business owners. The key is to find the right business for them, and they don’t need to worry about their choices being limited to fast food restaurants.”

“Although I work with a number of food concepts, I have placed only one person with a fast food franchise, and that person was an experienced restaurateur who had a spot picked out in the mall and wanted a Mexican concept,” said Anna Wilds, Founder and Managing Director of Franchise Locators. “By the way, it is important for people who have food experience to go with a food franchise in most cases.”

Another option for corporate refugees is semi-absentee businesses. They enable people to have a job AND grow a business on the side.

Due to misconceptions like the Fast Food Myth, most career coaches won’t hear their clients ask directly about franchising. Instead, coaches should listen for key phrases that indicate their clients may be ready to do something on their own or have an alternative to traditional employment. Some clients may express wanting to do something for the benefit of themselves and their families. Some are frustrated with their prolonged job searches, chasing after elusive jobs out of state, and their families do not want to move.

“Those are the types of statements a career coach needs to listen for to make a good referral to Franchise Locators,” Wilds said. “I have yet to hear someone say, ‘I want a franchise,’ right off the bat. Franchising is a proven strategy for minimizing the risk of going into business for oneself, and it is a way for people to achieve the lifestyle they desire. When career coaches and their clients understand that, we are seen as a highly valued resource on entrepreneurship.”

Do you have a client who’s ready to start their own business? Consultations with Anna Wilds are free! Click here to learn more.