lavender field in france

So, you are contemplating moving to France, and need to earn a living once there – you are making your plans and need to consider all the options available to you. Don’t underestimate what you are attempting to do is probably the first thing I would say – your friends will think you are going to sit in the sunshine all day (but it does sometimes rain in France) drinking delectable wine (but there is a limit!) and without a care in the world: well, it’s certainly going to be a worthwhile adventure but it would be unrealistic to think it won’t have its ups and downs.

To say that people moving to France and starting a business there should be prepared to be pole-axed, might be interpreted as a negative comment or discouraging. It is a dose of reality and more importantly intended as a comforting thought on a challenging day in their new country. Despite having relocated countries on numerous occasions before finally settling in France, there were certainly days when it did not seem right to say out loud that “this is hard”. Rather like the Emperor’s new clothes – no-one dared admit that there were days when their resolve faltered along with their fluency when some things took five hours which might otherwise have taken five minutes “back home” and when the proverbial rung did seem to have been pulled out from under the feet.

France map

So, if you are planning a lifestyle move, why wouldn’t you work hard to iron out as many potential issues as possible? If you want to run a business in France, whether to earn a living, keep your brains occupied because you’re too young to do nothing, or indeed to ensure access to the wonderful French health system, then don’t discount the possibility of buying into a well-established business by way of a franchise. From my own experience, most of the people needing to earn a living in France have no option but to be self-employed: actual “employment” when unemployment is running at around 8.5% in France is difficult unless you are bi-lingual with a niche skill. As part of the start of your new life, a franchise could be a good route to running your own business with all the freedom and benefits that brings to your new way of life without the stress and strain of inventing the actual business itself. Not to mention that in most cases, you get to work where you want to live!

When I’m talking to people considering making a move to France who need to earn a living, and I mention the word “franchise” they often confess such an idea has never occurred to them, so let’s explore the opportunity now so that it becomes one of your choices!

As with all business models, franchising has its pros and cons, so, it’s interesting to know that European based research reports that the main reasons for going into a franchise are to do with the barriers in setting up a business. Upon closer examination, the research confirms that lack of experience and lack of knowledge are major factors, and franchising can offer help to overcome these barriers.

A reputable franchise offers you a “leg-up”, a proven business opportunity and support which is invaluable when you are changing lifestyle to the extent you inevitably do with a move to a new country. It’s no wonder that franchise opportunities work so well for ex-pats moving to France – franchising there is very well regulated, franchisees are regarded as having an immediate professional standing, and there is the ongoing hand-holding for the new entrant, the importance of the latter not to be under-estimated when you are faced with the challenges your new life-style might bring

circle of arrows surrounding a model property

First things first - if the franchise works to the rules and regulations of the French Franchising Federation (whether or not they are a member) then you can be assured that the documentation you receive will walk you through not just the individual opportunity, but also give you the background and history of the business involved. It will provide a complete picture as to the stability of the business and the part it might play in your future. It should provide a framework within which you can retain if you like the “fun” of running your own business, without needing to lay the foundation itself before you can start to enjoy it.

If this were you planning a one-off business, then you would need to carry out research to find whether a market exists in France for that service or those goods you might supply: and if it did, whether the people who might love what you are offering, have the budget for what you intend to provide. The latter is something which is often overlooked. People might love what you are offering: but they also have to be able to afford it for you to make a living! All of this research will have been done for you by the Franchisor, leaving you to work on your own contribution to the business rather than needing to work on the background essentials.

There will also be sufficient marketing and advertising already in place, which all businesses need: and which can be a huge drain on the finances of any brand-new business. This fact that this element is looked after for you, can alone make the investment in the franchise worthwhile, with an established brand image: internet marketing: a name, and logo - you have a business in a box ready to go.

You will be taken one stage at a time through the information gathering (necessary on both sides) with the opportunity to formally request “le Document d’Information Précontractuelle” (DIP), the pre-contractual information, known throughout the industry in France, as the DIP file. This will be sent to you, and you are given (rather like house purchase in France) a three week “cooling off period” during which time you are not allowed to make a decision as to whether to invest or not, but are encouraged to keep in close contact with the franchisor and their team to complete your information gathering.

a contract that is ready to be signed

It’s important to speak to existing franchisees: and any franchisor who doesn’t encourage this should be regarded with some healthy scepticism since it is from people at the coal-face you will really learn whether or not the franchisor provides what you believe they are going to. It is important that you research how the franchise is managed: the franchisor/franchisee relationship is a unique one – you are both, in some senses, clients of each other. You are joining an established business and must do your bit to uphold the standards and levels of service: at the same time, the central office of the franchisor must provide you with the exposure, support and equipment (whether that is know-how or actual goods) which you need.

Most of us can relate to owning a vehicle of some sort. A franchise business is also simply a vehicle: it gets you from A (thinking of what business opportunity you might have) to B (earning a living) much faster than you would otherwise get there. However, just like any vehicle, while enjoying the ride along the way, and taking advantage of the functionality of the vehicle that you need for that trip, it needs to be steered in the right direction: it needs fuel in the tank: it is important to remember it will be your input which will make a difference to whether it reaches its destination – whether your own business is successful or not.

You may, of course, have an idea of something, in particular, you want to do but it’s untried and untested – in which case, you could consider a franchise to put bread and butter on the table, whilst you slowly build up contacts and credibility in the area allowing you to run alongside the franchise, a secondary activity as an adjunct to the “main” business. I have seen this scenario successfully repeated time and time again. It’s always good to have a practical example - in the Gard in Occitanie, where Tony and Jane Harris are successful property managers of some years standing with the Les Bons Voisins network, Jane also runs her own complementary therapy business’ alongside their property management. The revenue from the franchise has allowed her the opportunity to explore that business without it needing to be a major source of revenue from day one!

It’s no wonder that franchise opportunities work so well for ex-pats moving to France!

Carmel O’Connell
Les Bons Voisins Property Management

The first national network of property managers in France

Caring for those who care for France

Tel: 00 33 (0)5 62 29 26 62

Email: [email protected]


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