A turnkey business opportunity is set up to include everything an owner needs to get started in the business. This includes the business model, permits, name, location, equipment, and inventory. Ideally, all the buyer needs to do is "turn the key" and open the door to get the business up and running. In most cases, though, the turnkey business owner will have to hire staff if needed before opening.
Although some franchises are identified as turnkey, a non-franchise turnkey business will not have ongoing royalty fees after the initial cost to purchase, and will not require the business owner to follow regulations and guidelines for how to run the business. The turnkey operator will own the business and have freedom to operate it as he or she sees fit, but will not get the ongoing support and help that a franchisor offers.
A true turnkey opportunity provides everything that is needed to open or take over the business (except hiring staff in most cases). A partial turnkey program will provide some or most of what is needed but will rely on the business owner to take care of the rest. Be sure you have a good understanding (in writing) of what you are getting when you purchase a turnkey operation so you know what you will be responsible for in order to open the business.
Other than possibly hiring staff, it should be. There are all kinds of business opportunities out there, with many variations that use the term "turnkey." That's why it's important to know exactly what you're getting before you buy a business opportunity. A true turnkey package should provide the entire business from concept to application. This is why turnkey businesses often cost more than other types -- you are paying for the labor it took to put the opportunity together and get it ready for you to turn the key and start or take over the business.
That being said, a turkey operation only promises to get the business open. Providing good customer service and marketing the business are the owner's job. Just be leery of opportunities that want to charge you a turnkey price while not providing a true turnkey business.
Preparing to open a business can take hundreds of hours and delay opening for weeks or months, while a turnkey operation is ready to go now. Another advantage is the freedom from all the restrictions a franchise puts on the business (although those are intended to help the business be successful). Not having to pay royalties can also be a plus, although the flip side is no ongoing support from a franchisor.
The risk of a turnkey business may be slightly higher than for a franchisee because of the lack of ongoing support, but the lack of royalties can improve the profit margin and lower the risk sometimes, as well. Turnkey businesses are often less costly overall than franchises despite the markup for turnkey services.
Name recognition and an established reputation are other advantages of many turnkey operations, and can make marketing efforts easier once the business opens. People are much more likely to patronize a business they've heard of before.