Franchises can be helpful. For instance, when you are travelling, if you stop at a chain restaurant to eat, you pretty much know what you’re going to get– the options will basically be the same as the ones offered at home. It’s familiar. Not exciting, but familiar. But at the same time, franchises are limiting. The offerings are dictated by the corporate headquarters, not the individual location. The fast food chain can leave off the pickles in your burger, but they cannot add onion straws. They simply don’t have them, unless corporate approves them. But an independent restaurant is free to offer anything they want. Plenty of businesses argue that supporting your local economy is the right the thing to do. That might be true, but there are also plenty of benefits for why someone should shop local as well.
For outdoor lighting, we strongly believe that the restrictions inherent in becoming a franchisee penalize the customer, rather than benefit them. So let’s explore the pros and cons of being a franchise vs. independent owner:
- When you look at a franchisee’s website, you’ll see samples of beautiful work. But your local franchisee may not have actually done that work, so it is not necessarily representative of your installer’s abilities. So even though the appeal of the franchise may be the promise of uniformity, there’s still no guarantee that your local franchise will be able to duplicate the quality of what you’ve seen elsewhere. The franchise typically has a master website for the company that all franchisee’s direct traffic too to help with the consistent appearance. What does this mean for you the homeowner? This means that the images you are using to make a decision on whether you like a local franchise, may very well be based on an image that was designed and installed by a different franchise across the country. Understanding how and what to light, is not something that a franchise can teach someone in a year or two. Landscape lighting design and installation practices are developed over years of experience. You cannot learn the outdoor lighting business from a book, it takes time and real-world training.
- A franchise is restricted in the products they can sell, the materials they can use to install them, the services they can offer and the sources they can use. The corporate franchisor dictates these terms. As a result, franchises tend to yield “cookie cutter” results. As an independent outdoor lighting designer and installer, we can utilize any fixtures we want, and can even have fixtures custom designed for you! A franchise does not have the freedom to design a system that is tailored to your specific desires. In the same vein, as an independent lighting installer, we can utilize multiple suppliers to obtain the best quality and variety. We are not locked into offering only one brand or style of fixtures, or using only one source for our materials. If a supplier’s quality goes down, we have the freedom to find a better one!
- Franchises also often come with territory restrictions, so even if you really like a friend’s install, you may not be able to have the same person do yours if you are not in that installer’s territory. And your “local” franchise may not actually be all that local. (The corporate headquarters is almost certainly not local to you. And will they really understand the unique needs of your local area?) The owner might have 3 franchises, and live somewhere else. A locally owned and operated independent business’ money stays local.
- Another drawback to dealing with a franchise is that they can be bought and sold. So you may not be dealing with the same owner/operator next year, or if a warranty issue arises. And who knows if that new owner will honor the warranty? We’ve all encountered situations where the parent company does not stand behind a product or service with their name on it, because it was done by a franchisee that is no longer tied to them.
- And don’t forget, the franchisee must pay royalties to the Corporate Franchisor. Guess who that gets passed along to?
- When you start an independent business, it is up to you to set policy, to identify how you want to run things. As a franchisee, you cannot do that. You agree to abide by the Corporate Franchisor’s policies, rules and regulations. And typically, the Franchisors can change their demands on the franchisees (new products and services to offer, advertising, where to get supplies and how much they cost, what warranties will and will not cover, etc.), but not vice versa. The power lies with the corporation, not the franchisee.
When it comes to your outdoor lighting, a franchise may not be all that it’s cracked up to be. Your local, independent, certified lighting installer, like Southern Lights, has the freedom and the expertise to design and install a lighting system that is perfect for your home or business, not hampered by strings such as corporate product sourcing restrictions or policies dictated by a Franchisor, headquartered far away.
Read more about “Our Story” HERE.
Located in Summerfield, NC Southern Lights- Architectural and Landscape Lighting serves properties and property management companies throughout the state of NC including Greensboro, High Point, Jamestown, Burlington, Reidsville, Oak Ridge, Brown Summit, Winston-Salem, Clemmons, Raleigh, Charlotte, Kannapolis, Salisbury, Gastonia, Matthews, etc. Southern Lights has installed hundreds of outdoor landscape lighting systems and carries more certifications than anyone in the state. We specialize in lighting designs and service everything we install as well as lighting systems installed by others. With attention to detail and a solid knowledge of design, Southern Lights is the leading outdoor landscape lighting firm in the state of NC and beyond. See why our clients choose us. Contact us today by web (online form) or phone (336.451.4969)