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Expanding Your Home Service Business: Franchising vs. Growing In-House

Expanding Your Home Service Business: Franchising vs. Growing In-House

Business Advice
Alison Bright // September 27, 2023

Expanding Your Home Service Business: Franchising vs. Growing In-House

Expanding a home service business is a crucial milestone on the path to success. As your business grows and your reputation flourishes, you'll inevitably consider options for expansion. One of the most significant decisions you'll face is whether to franchise your business or continue growing it in-house. Each path has its advantages and disadvantages, and choosing the right one requires careful consideration of your overhead costs, business goals, resources, and market conditions. Different home service businesses will inevitably have different options and limitations, and deciding what direction to take a lawn care business will differ from a cleaning business or handyman services. Ultimately, the choice is individual and personal, and in this article, we’ll help you make an informed decision to ensure the continued success of your unique home service business.

Understanding the Home Service Industry

Before diving into the franchising versus in-house growth debate, it's essential to have a solid understanding of the home service industry. Home service businesses encompass a wide range of services, from plumbers and electrical companies to lawn care businesses and cleaning services. These businesses cater to the needs of homeowners, helping them maintain and improve their properties.

The home service industry has several distinctive features that make it both lucrative and competitive:

  1. Local Nature: Home service businesses primarily operate within local or regional markets. This means that they are deeply embedded in their communities and rely heavily on local reputation and customer relationships.
  2. Seasonal Variations: Some home services, like landscaping or lawn care, are subject to seasonal variations, which can affect revenue and staffing and are important to keep in mind when looking to expand.
  3. High Customer Trust: Customers trust home service providers to work in their homes, often in intimate and sensitive areas. Reputation and trust are paramount.
  4. Competition: The home service industry is also highly competitive, with numerous small, medium-sized, and large players vying for market share.
  5. Skilled Labor: Many home services require skilled labor, which can be challenging to find, nurture, and retain.

Now, let's explore the two primary avenues for expanding a home service business: franchising and in-house growth.

Franchising: Pros and Cons

Pros of Franchising

Franchising can offer unique advantages for expanding your home service business, including rapid expansion and shared risk among other benefits.

  1. Rapid Expansion: Franchising allows you to expand quickly by granting licenses to independent entrepreneurs (franchisees) who invest in and operate their own locations. This can lead to rapid growth without significant upfront capital and relatively low overhead costs.
  2. Shared Risk: When you franchise your business, franchisees take on a substantial portion of the risk associated with new locations. They invest their own capital, reducing your individual financial exposure.
  3. Local Expertise: Franchisees typically have a deep understanding of their local market, which can be invaluable for tailoring services to regional needs and preferences to capitalize on prior networking efforts and opportunities.
  4. Brand Recognition: Franchising can enhance your brand's identity, visibility, and recognition and act as an extension of home services marketing when new locations open and gain traction in various markets.
  5. Diverse Revenue Streams: Multiple franchise locations generate diversified revenue streams, which can help stabilize your income in the face of economic fluctuations or seasonal variations.

Cons of Franchising

It's also important to acknowledge that, like any business expansion strategy, franchising comes with its own set of challenges and drawbacks.

  1. Loss of Control: Franchising means relinquishing some control over your business. While franchise agreements outline specific standards and guidelines, franchisees still have autonomy in day-to-day operations.
  2. Franchisee Variability: The performance of individual franchisees can vary significantly, affecting the overall reputation of your brand. Low-performing franchisees do have the potential to damage your brand's image.
  3. Complex Legalities: Franchising involves intricate legal agreements, including franchise disclosure documents and franchise agreements, which can be costly and time-consuming to develop and manage.
  4. Initial Investment: Establishing a franchise system requires an initial investment in legal and operational infrastructure. You may also need to provide training and support to franchisees.
  5. Brand Consistency: Ensuring brand consistency across multiple locations can be challenging. Maintaining quality control and uniformity in service delivery can be an ongoing struggle.

Growing In-House: Pros and Cons

Pros of Growing In-House

On the other hand, growing your home service business in-house presents a distinct set of advantages that align with maintaining control and fostering brand consistency.

  1. Maintain Control: Expanding in-house allows you to maintain full control over all aspects of your business, from hiring and training to service standards and customer relations.
  2. Brand Consistency: When you grow in-house, it's easier to ensure consistent quality and service standards across all locations. You can implement your vision more directly.
  3. Cohesive Culture: In-house growth fosters a unified company culture and values that can resonate with both employees and customers.
  4. Profit Retention: All profits from in-house locations stay within your company, contributing to your overall revenue and business valuation.
  5. Learning and Adaptation: As you grow in-house, you have more opportunities to learn from your successes and failures, adapting your strategies accordingly.

Cons of Growing In-House

Now, let's take a closer look at the potential disadvantages and complexities associated with maintaining full control and brand consistency.

  1. Slower Growth: Expanding in-house is often a slower process compared to franchising. It requires a more significant investment in terms of time, capital, and overhead costs.
  2. Increased Financial Risk: You bear the brunt of the financial risk when expanding in-house. Funding new locations, hiring and training staff, and marketing can strain your resources.
  3. Resource Intensive: Managing all aspects of in-house growth can be resource-intensive, from hiring and training to marketing and logistics.
  4. Limited Local Expertise: Expanding in-house may limit your ability to tap into the local expertise that franchisees bring to their markets.
  5. Market Saturation: Growing in-house may eventually lead to market saturation in your local area, making it challenging to continue expanding without diversifying your services or geographic reach.

Factors to Consider When Deciding

Again, the decision to franchise or grow in-house depends upon your unique home services business, your industry, and location. Ultimately, the decision to franchise or grow in-house should align with your long-term business goals and resources.

Here are some key factors to consider when making this critical decision:

  1. Financial Resources: Assess your financial capability. Franchising often requires less upfront capital, while in-house growth demands more significant financial investments.
  2. Risk Tolerance: Consider your appetite for risk. Franchising spreads the risk among franchisees, while in-house growth requires your company to absorb all of it..
  3. Control and Brand Consistency: Determine how important maintaining control and ensuring brand consistency are to your business model and vision.
  4. Local Expertise: Consider whether you can leverage the local expertise and market knowledge that franchisees bring to the table.
  5. Growth Speed: Evaluate your desired growth speed. If rapid expansion is a priority, franchising may be the better choice.
  6. Legal and Operational Preparedness: Ensure you have the legal and operational infrastructure in place to support franchising if you choose that path.
  7. Market Saturation: Assess your local market's potential for in-house growth. If it's becoming saturated, franchising may be the way to expand into new territories.

Case Studies

Need some examples to make this decision? To further illustrate the franchising versus in-house growth choice, let's explore two hypothetical case studies:

Case Study 1: Franchising

Scenario: You run a successful plumbing service in a mid-sized city. Your plumbing business has a strong reputation and receives inquiries from customers in nearby towns, but expanding on your own would be expensive, time-consuming, and require more financial risk than you’re willing to take on. You decide to franchise your business.

Outcome: Over the next five years, you establish franchises in five neighboring towns. Each franchisee brings local market knowledge and invests in their location. Your brand becomes recognized across the region, and you benefit from diversified revenue streams. However, you encounter occasional challenges in maintaining consistent service quality and brand image due to franchisee variability.

Case Study 2: Growing In-House

Scenario: You operate a thriving home cleaning business with a solid customer base in your city. This is a true family business, and you’re passionate about maintaining control over your service quality and brand. Even though it requires higher overhead costs and financial risk, you decide to grow in-house since it aligns best with your long-term business goals.

Outcome: Over five years, you open three new cleaning branches in neighboring cities, hiring and training staff according to your specific, established standards. While growth is slower, you maintain consistent service quality and brand reputation. However, the financial limitations of expanding in-house restrict your ability to explore opportunities for diversification.


Expanding your home service business is a significant decision that depends on factors like financial resources, risk tolerance, control, and growth speed. Franchising offers rapid expansion, shared risk, and the potential for local expertise. It also comes with the loss of some control and complexities in maintaining brand consistency. In-house growth allows you to maintain control, ensure brand consistency, and foster a cohesive culture but may be slower and more resource intensive.

At the end of the day, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to the franchising versus in-house growth dilemma. The right choice depends on your unique business circumstances and goals. Whichever path you choose, thorough planning, legal preparation, and a commitment to maintaining service excellence and brand integrity will be critical to your success. Whether you opt for franchising or in-house growth, with careful consideration and strategic execution, you can expand your home service business and continue to thrive in a competitive market.

One easy step you can take in growing your home service business is by investing time and energy into expanding your network. Check out our guide to see our full breakdown on how to harness this untapped power, starting today.

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