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His ambush was as intense as it was unexpected. I'd just sat down among the friendly faces with my drink, when he walked up and hit me point blank. "Why should I even consider purchasing a Smith's School of English franchise when I can do it all on my own?"

I looked up. Hello, nice to meet you, too. Clear eyes. Nice suit. A young businessman or teacher. Sincere. Looking for information, not a sales job. Fair enough. "I don't have an answer for you," I said. "Why don't you fill me in on your situation, and we'll take it from there. He smiled slightly as he sat down across from me.

"Sure," he started. "My partner and I have some money set aside. We've gotten an excellent break on a piece of real-estate in a great neighborhood. We're both married to Japanese nationals so visas aren't a problem. My wife's brother is a printer, so we can get our flyers cheap and my partner's wife used to sell English lessons at one of the big-name English schools and she's psyched about helping us out. Both my partner and I have worked at the big schools and even have some management experience there. And we've got a bunch of private students we could bring into the new school with us. So I ask you again — what could your franchising system provide that we couldn't do by ourselves?"

"Time. But only you and your partner can determine how much that is worth, not I."

"What do you mean?"

"You have a much better situation than most of our new franchisees, and that puts you more than a few steps ahead. But soon, the clock will be ticking and you'll be facing situations your management experience in the big schools hasn't prepared you for at all. That's where your franchise investment will save you time. And money.

"You see, we've already built many Smith's School of English franchises. We've learned what it takes to make a successful English conversation school. We buy you time by eliminating the ever-spiraling (and increasingly expensive) learning curve, the little problems that quickly become major pains. Examples — where will you find the money, on a monthly basis, to put into high-visibility, name-brand mass media advertising? Or secretarial support — do you really think a saleslady and a secretary are interchangeable? How will you support your student base as it grows? If you don't have some sure-fire solutions to these problems (and a lot more), watch out! These are just a few of the alligators that will bite you hard. We know because we've seen it happen again and again to those outside of our franchise group. It wasn't pretty and it didn't have to happen.

"Most new English schools collapse within that dangerous first year. A lack of money compounded by low visibility (marketing and advertising) is what hammers them hardest. Poor (or nonexistent) support for sales and administration deals the final blow.

"A Smith's School of English franchisee avoids these pitfalls. We not only give our franchisees an excellent blueprint for success, we also provide them with the tools and strong backs needed to support them in their venture. Our team protects them from the frustratingly wasteful expense in terms of time and money, of reinventing the wheel. That's why a franchise provides the most solid and stable foundation for success. Think about it."

If you'd like help thinking about it, click here.