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What does it mean for a franchise to be in the Pilot phase?
A franchise is a product - the product being the right and the wherewithal to operate a version of the franchisor’s business in a given territory. Like any other product,, a franchise needs to be fully tested before it can go on sale as a proven product.
In the world of franchising that means that the franchisor has to be able to show that someone other than them can successfully run a copy of their business, without needing extensive support.
The franchising term for doing this is called ‘Piloting’ or ‘running a Pilot’.
Being in the Pilot does not necessarily mean that the business itself is unproven (although this is something you should check carefully).
The franchisor may well have run a very successful business for years. What is being tested in a Pilot is the manuals, training and infrastructure that will enable someone else to be successful in the same business in a different location.
Piloting a franchise is a bit like beta-testing software - the product works, all the functionality is there, but there will be bugs and glitches that need ironing out. Like a beta tester, the Pilot franchise owner’s job is to tell the franchisor about those glitches so they can be fixed.
Buying a Pilot franchise can be a very good low-cost route to running your own successful business.