Many Canadian would be entrepreneurs and business owners find that financing a franchise is often as challenging (if not more so) than the process and work and due diligence in selecting the right business to purchase.
Lets share some hands on, ‘real world’ advice and tips on franchise finance in Canada. Fantasy might often work for you, but NOT in business financing!
Business financing is a challenge on any level, major corporations wrestle with it everyday, and you are wrestling with it as you contemplate your new business venture. Naturally all our comments and advice relate to both a new franchise or your purchase of an existing business that is being sold by a franchisee.
A lot of franchises would do well to understand how the franchise industry is regulated in Canada and what types of disclosure and protection are in place for both you, and, to be fair, the franchisor. Those rights and obligations you have are under something called the ‘Arthur Wishart Act’ if you are in Ontario – other provinces have similar legislation. We strongly recommend that you look at the Act, and quite frankly your lawyer might be the best one to do this.
Clients always ask us what rate they might be expected to pay on a franchise finance loan in Canada. We are very clear on that, and the answer is ‘ it depends ‘! Would a rate in the 5-6% range sound good to you. We certainly think it does given you are a small business and in many cases viewed as a ‘start up ‘, notwithstanding your franchisors depth and reputation. That interest rate is available to you through a loan technically known as the BIL loan, also called the CSBF loan. Lay people call it the government Small Business Loan, and it is categorically the way in which a majority of the franchises in Canada are financed. Speak to trusted, credible an experienced advisor in this area of franchise finance who can successfully complete this financing for you.
Is a BIL franchise loan the only way to finance a franchise? Definitely not, other alternatives include a cash term loan, equipment financing for any hard assets in the business, and the final piece of the puzzle, which is your own owner equity or cash investment into the business. All business is financed by borrowing (debt) plus the owner equity contribution.
Can you get a franchise finance loan without any personal guarantees – the quick tip and answer is ‘ no ‘, we don’t think so, but we also point out to clients the aforementioned BIL loan requires only a 25% personal guarantee.
Clients always ask if a franchise can be financed with no down payment – here’s our quick tip on that – No, absolutely not. Whether you are financing a pizza franchise or building a car mfg plant any lender in North America will look to some owner financial involvement in the project. The balance act becomes how much, as there are pros and cons of putting down too much or too little equity.
Can you purchase a franchise without some thought around a business plan – we don’t think so, and info act the best tip we can give you is to do a business plan, and if you aren’t preparing it personally at least stay involved in the input and the process. It will steer you towards a common sense level of financial success in your business.
Prospective franchisees are always asking if an appraisal is required. Generally it is, but the biggest tip we can give you in this area is that the modest cost of an appraisal can actually be the largest financial benefit to your franchise financing, as it has the ability to increase lender confidence and lower your estimated personal financial commitment to the business.