Skip to main content

If it seems like new Starbucks locations are popping up faster than weeds in your backyard, there's a sound reason behind it. Successful franchises rapidly expand their reach because they begin with an effective business plan and focus on growth.

Related: Franchise development—what you need to know

Creating a business plan is the necessary first step for any business owners who want to bring a franchise into a new market. Well-crafted franchise business plans are the equivalent of an elevator pitch. Business owners can use them to convince others to invest the capital they need to hit the ground running. Lenders also require a business plan before they will sign off on any loans to a prospective franchise owner.

Creating your franchise business plan

A typical business plan includes four main sections. You can touch on these sections in an executive summary, then break down the details in each individual section. Each section functions like a signpost on the roadmap you're drawing for your new business to reach its goals. Here's an overview of those four sections and what they should include.

Business description

The purpose for this section is basically self-explanatory. It offers basic and essential information on the franchise itself. For example, it describes the products and services your business offers. You can also identify your customers and how your business will help them.

You should evaluate the market where you wish to set up shop and include information about it in this section. This includes an analysis of your direct competitors, identifiable challenges or risks that come with doing business in that market, and a breakdown of your target demographic. Discuss how you will approach and manage each of these factors within your business operations.

Management

Your business plan needs to detail your company's management structure and any related core values or philosophies. Which positions will be responsible for managing day-to-day operations? Who will fill these positions? What qualifications and skills are required for each position? How will you hire and train the necessary personnel? What salaries and benefits will you offer to these employees?

Discuss the individuals who will be filling management and leadership roles on your team. Explain—in depth—what makes those particular individuals qualified to succeed in those roles. Franchising is only as successful as the management team doing the work behind the scenes, and the people reading your business plan will look over this section carefully.

Marketing

A new business can only succeed if it uses the right formula to reach potential customers and turn them into real customers. This is where your marketing plan comes into play. Your business plan should detail how you will reach customers and convince them to walk through your door.

Doing thorough market analysis is critical in this part of your overall planning. You need to identify your customers, assess their needs, and determine how your business will fulfill those needs. How will this data shape your pricing? What is your potential market share? Outline how you will market your business to reach that target demographic.

Financial projections

It takes a significant investment of capital to get any business off the ground, and franchises are no exception. Investors and lenders will be most concerned about turning a profit. They don't want to sink funding into a business that will end up folding like a paper airplane at the first sign of trouble.

Your plan should outline a realistic budget that includes both startup costs and operating costs. These financial projections should cover your cash-on-hand, franchise purchasing fees, startup costs and operational costs. The budget should cover operational costs over a three- to six-month period.

Discuss how much capital you'll need to cover these costs until your business turns a profit. You also need to demonstrate the accounting and inventory control systems your franchise will use. Include income statements, cash flow projections, and data sheets to project how your business will do once it opens its doors. Financial projections should be conservative and take into account as many variables as possible.

Getting to work

There are many great resources available to help you structure your business plan so that it conveys the message you intend with confidence. Franchise business plan templates can help you see what works best and how to put your vision into the right words. You can pick from assorted stock images, fonts, colors and other design elements to make it visually appealing and reflect your franchise's brand voice.

If you're not a professional designer, Lucidpress can help you start out on the right foot. We offer plenty of templates suited to meet your business document needs. Our intuitive online editor makes it easy to design traditional printed documents or embrace the virtual realm with interactive digital documents. Check out our template gallery for a dose of inspiration, then sign up for a free Lucidpress account to take one for a test drive.

Your brand matters. If you're ready to build your franchise brand into a consistent, compelling force that drives your business, this guide will show you how to get started.

The complete guide to multi-location branding

Author Bio

John Coon is a professional journalist and freelance writer with more than a decade of experience. He's a contributing business writer to Utah Business and writes about sports for a variety of outlets, from The Associated Press to The Salt Lake Tribune. Follow John on Twitter: @johncoonsports