This is a long response as I just helped a couple of friends of mine
look at this very subject with the very company in question about 3
years ago. Here are the salient points I remember.
Don't think you will be your own boss if you own a Woodcraft or any
other successful franchise for that matter.
I have known the players here at our local Woodcraft for many years
now, and the amount of $$ is staggering to get in, certainly the
numbers floating around here at 400K level are correct. From what I
understood when the local joint went up for sale, WC has it all mapped
out for you.
This is what I got from some of the folks that looked into purchasing
our local franchise. I wasn't there, but these guys are pretty
Price for the franchise and required store size are based on population
of the area where you want to start the business. Certain stock items
are mandatory and you will carry them at all times, even if they are
slow movers. This keeps a familiar appearance of a WC store, no matter
where it is located. Items that are purchased by the home office that
they feel should be in the store are purchased by them, sent to you,
and billed (they don't ask). Their sale and ad merchandise and timing
will be yours, too. Only a certain amount of "outside merchandise" is
allowed, so you shouldn't think it is your store to stock with the
items you find.
And apparently the folks at WC are upfront about the $$ requirements.
They told the guys that were looking at the franchise that they needed
enough additional income and savings to hold on for about 3 years or so
until it was up and running correctly. 3 years income!! Then they
could pay themselves a nominal salary. It seems the real income starts
when you open your second store (no kiddin').
And me speaking as an employer, if you haven't managed, hired, fired,
paid, scheduled, or trained employees, you are in for a real shock. In
your mind you are thinking you will find a retired craftsman, some old
German guy (OK, that's my dream) that would do the job for the love of
woodworking. Check out the feedback you get when you tell that cranky
old sombitch to do something he doesn't want to do. Or take a look at
the youngsters working in Home Depot... even the good ones are most
green as gourds. These will be your affordable labor to fit your
business model. Solving benefit disputes, working around sick time
off, personal time off, employee infighting, bad/childish behavior from
full grown men, overtime pay, meetings with your state unemployment
commission... if you haven't done these things you should really take a
crack at that first as a manager or asst. manager somewhere to get a
feel for it.
Our local store survives by hiring well meaning retirees that have at
least one income, and sometimes 3. We are in a military town that had
5 bases for 60 years, so we have a lot of retirees looking for
something to do that are more interested in keeping busy than making a
career mark after retirement. Perfect for WC. But I don't know what
the talent pool would be like where you are.
And I agree with Swingman on his keen observation.
I sent a buddy of mine opening a small custom shop over to WC to buy
his tools. Pricing wasn't that good, the people weren't that
knowledgeable at WC, they didn't have all the stuff he wanted. So, we
talked about it, and he went to Amazon where I thought he should have
gone in the first place. He bought his Jet cabinet saw, Jet 15" board
planer, Jet 6" jointer, Jet 16" bandsaw, Jet monster dust collector,
and a pile of accessories and he got some free promotional goodies from
them (a Bosch router and a router lift for one!). Shipping was free.
It was shipped to his door. He saved about $2600 at Amazon over WC.
WC was higher on all the tools, and he had to pay taxes on his purchase
locally. On top of that, WC charged for delivery of EACH tool, not
just a large truck and mover rental.
Needless to say he was thrilled things didn't work out for him at WC
since he saved a pile of money. The only reason he went there in the
first place was that he felt like he was supporting our local economy.
(A civic minded chap.)
I don't buy anything at WC anymore. I buy all the disposables and
tools I need on the net. Our local store is hurting for that very same
reason as I am certainly not alone. And it has not gone unnoticed by
me and many of my cohorts (including one that works there) that a lot
of the merchandise in WC is the same as in *gulp* Harbor Freight.
Different packaging, but the same product.
If it were me, I would try something along the lines of developing a
new skill. While you have income, take some furniture making classes
and invest in some top notch tools. If you want to get into
woodworking as a profession, you need to learn how to do a lot of
different tasks very rapidly, and that takes practice. Do that while
you have income and no employees.
Whatever you do, good luck!