Unlike Singaporean night club, Clinic, where customers ordered drinks in syringes or drips and sat on hospital beds or wheel chairs, your business concept needs to be sustainable.
Although it caught the eye of a few colleagues on previous trips to Singapore, businesses based on a gimmick generally go out of business – just like Clinic did.
As one Gen Y colleague put it, “Once you’ve been there, have the photos up on Facebook, then there’s no need to go back.”
According to Albert Kong, CEO of Asiawide Franchise Consultants, there are a range of businesses that pop up based on themes or gimmicks such as cemeteries or vampires, however they just don’t last.
Market fit and ability to attract the right franchisee
Albert also mentioned an approach by someone who wanted to turn their tattoo studio into a franchise and expand throughout Asia, which highlights two more key elements of sustainability – market fit and ability to attract the right franchisees.
As Albert pointed out, tattooists need to be artistic with good hand-eye coordination. Apart from the obvious challenges of trying to train someone in the art of tattoo, those who’ve already mastered it tend to have their own businesses, he says.
Therefore they are unlikely to want to join a franchise, and if they do join there is a high possibility they won’t follow the systems as they’re used to having their independence.
The other issue with this potential franchise is cultural fit with the market.
Albert says, asian culture isn’t quite ready for an influx of tattoo studios with tattoos still considered fairly taboo, lacking the mainstream acceptance enjoyed in the west, where this potential franchisor was based.
Proof of franchise business concept
Franchise research reveals the majority of franchisors operate their businesses for four years before franchising, and while there will always be exceptions, it’s important you prove your business is sustainable before franchising.
And although not a franchise and with no intention to franchise, one exception to the rules of market size and gimmicks is Heart Attack Grill in the United States.
It’s a fast food burger concept with ‘fit’ waitresses dressed as nurses, serving items like flat-liner fries, the bypass burger, the double bypass burger – right through to the quadruple bypass burger (just looking at the picture of that last one makes me sick!).
They also sell no-filter cigarettes, soda, candy and beer, and if you’re over 350 pounds (159kgs) you get to eat free.
Most would put Heart Attack Grill into the gimmick category however they’re heading into their thirteenth year of operation.
So on the very rare occasion a gimmick may work (although in the longer term such a menu may be outlawed), and as a franchise it would be harder to expand into several areas as market size may be limited.
When it comes to due diligence franchisors are equally responsible for ensuring their business is fit for franchising as a franchisee is in ensuring the franchise is the right fit for them.