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SA Franchise Brands welcomes Anton Lee, Franchisee for Solartech Energy Technologies North Coast to share some aspects on being a Franchisee.

What questions should prospective franchisees ask themselves before buying a franchise?

Will you be able to work in a franchise environment? Sometimes it feels as though the franchisor is looking after its own interests and not yours as an individual. Most of the decisions made are for the benefit of the group. If you can’t work ‘under’ someone else’s rules, then a franchise is not for you.

What made you decide to buy a franchise?

I felt a national footprint would be the best advertising for the brand, and it has been. Many people like to deal with the same company, no matter where they are in the country. The Solartech Energy Technologies brand is recognised throughout the country which is a big plus.

How important is it to investigate a franchise and what criteria did you use?

I joined the franchise at the very beginning so there wasn’t much to investigate. I believed in the renewable energy market and Solartech Energy Technologies was jumping into the deep end, so I jumped too.

What made you buy a Solartech Energy Technologies franchise?

I was looking for a renewable energy company and Solartech Energy Technologies provided me what I wanted. They had the correct product offering, the intellectual property and engineering. The business system seemed well thought out and I enjoyed the personal touch.

What early challenges did you face?

Getting the Solartech Energy Technologies name out there and being recognised as a reputable business was tough. I was lucky that I am based in the small town of Ballito (it was small then) and the sign writing on my vehicle got the message out, “there is a solar guy in town”. Cash flow of course is another major challenge for a small startup business but with friends and family’s help, we made it.

What training and support does the Franchisor provide you with?

We had support from the very first day. Our training was comprehensive and covered all aspects of the business. It is not just about installing a solar hot water geyser or heat pump. They cover the human interactive side of the business. We have monthly meetings in each region and the MD heads the meeting.

How important is the Franchisee’s relationship with the Franchisor?

Critical, there needs to be a synergy for any relationship to work. If you can meet eye to eye every month, your franchisor can understand your issues a lot better. You can clear the air once a month and not once a year at the annual get together.

What advice would you give to prospective franchisees?

Be willing to put in the hours. Nothing comes easy and you have to go out there and sell yourself and your business. If you can’t do that and be happy doing that, this business is not for you. Work doesn’t just fall into your lap.

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