It’s possible to convert to a franchise at 50

Het is mogelijk om op 50-jarige leeftijd over te stappen op een franchise

Returning to franchising at 40 or 50: a crazy gamble? L’Express Franchise reveals what drives some people to embark on the entrepreneurial adventure and opt for this form of business creation that combines autonomy and security.

46 years old. This is the average age of franchisees in France, according to the 18th edition of the Banque Populaire / FFF annual franchise survey. “Seniors are an attractive target for franchise networks looking to diversify their applicant profiles. What’s more, there’s a shortage of candidates, with more networks being created than franchise candidates arriving,” notes Olivier Mignot, managing partner of Franchise Management and member of the College of Experts of the French Franchise Federation (FFF).

Like nearly three quarters of franchisees who choose to trade in their salaried jobs to open their first outlet, Stéphane Muller has chosen to make a 180° turn on his return from expatriation after 30 years in Peru. A former commercial advisor for the European Union in Lima and an accomplished triathlete with six Iron Man events to his name, he was keen to take on a new challenge and become his own boss. Last April, he opened a Cash Express franchise in Toulouse’s hypercentre. “I didn’t want to become an employee again at my age,” explains the 55-year-old.

A former elementary school principal for over ten years, Cyrille Abella, 47, felt he had done his job. In April 2021, he too took the plunge and became a Shiva franchisee in Sanary-sur-Mer. Senior candidates are above all looking to secure their choice. Cyrille Abella believes that he could not have been wrong. “I had no right to make mistakes. There’s more pressure to succeed, especially in terms of paying for the children’s education and the end of the mortgage. Olivier Mignot confirms this need for confidence: “Sometimes put under pressure by past experience, they need reassurance. And the franchise model enables them to bounce back while at the same time securing their risks.

Franchisees: an opportunity for seniors

Retraining when you have no experience in a particular sector can be complicated. That’s why franchising, which allows you to benefit from a proven business model and initial and ongoing training, in return for an entry fee and monthly royalties, could be a solution. “Joining a franchise and a proven brand is reassuring when you’re embarking on your first entrepreneurial experience, because there are many pitfalls to avoid,” confides Cyrille Abella. “You learn from those who have the knowledge and experience – the Cash express network has 20 years’ experience. I didn’t need to learn anything that had been invented, and I was able to save a lot of time,” explains Stéphane Muller.

Like these two franchisees, almost half of them change business sector by opening a franchise. Stéphane Muller also particularly appreciates the ongoing support from the network head. While we have a great deal of freedom to manage the business, we are supported at all times, especially during the start-up phase and when looking for premises, where many questions arise,” he insists. The network ensures that we don’t miss out on certain stages. Although he acknowledges that the initial investment is substantial, “the fees and royalties received by the franchisor are more than compensated for by the know-how he provides and his support throughout the installation”. Cyrille Abella also benefits from the notoriety of a national brand, the Shiva network’s communication and day-to-day support. “I was able to get off to a very fast and strong start thanks to the network’s management of all the back-office tasks, such as drawing up pay slips and tax certificates for customers, which are very time-consuming. This enabled me to concentrate on developing the agency’s sales and on recruiting domestic staff.

Seniors: a reliable, committed target group

Cyrille Abella naturally turned to the Shiva brand. “I knew about the human services profession so that I could keep my father at home,” he explains to justify his choice. For his part, Stéphane Muller has turned to one of his favorite sectors, the circular economy. “It’s a subject I was defending in Parliament on behalf of the European Union. For Olivier Mignot, senior candidates choose brands that share their values: ” They’re looking for meaning and a business that allows them to fulfill their potential”. Another criterion was to find a concept they could launch in their home region. Three out of four franchisees open their franchise in the same region as their previous business. Cyrille Abella, who wanted above all to stay where he was born, is no exception to the rule.

In return, senior franchisees prove to be a highly committed, reliable and loyal group for networks. “They’re grateful to the brand, which has helped them bounce back, given them new perspectives and made them feel secure,” says Olivier Mignot. Their assets? Their solid skills base, their interpersonal skills and their generally greater investment capacity. “Access to financing is a key criterion in a context of exploding concept costs and inflation, with banks tightening their financing conditions,” continues the consultant. The only downside is that “they have sometimes been marked by a strong corporate culture, and it can be more complicated for them to put themselves in a learning position and challenge themselves,” admits Olivier Mignot. What’s more, this population may be less agile and therefore less able to adapt”.

Finally, networks may question their longevity, and therefore their long-term relationship with senior people – “There’s a strong likelihood that after a contract has been renewed, it will come to an end”, he notes. For their part, Stéphane Muller and Cyrille Abella have no intention of stopping there, and both have their sights set on opening other branches very soon, or even participating in the launch of other network concepts.

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