Most franchisors will introduce you to some of their successful franchisees, or invite you on a tour of their premises, where you will get to ask question and see how things are done, although this might be ‘censored’.
- If you are invited on a tour with a current franchisee and the current franchisor comes along, try to come back later so the franchisee won't feel under pressure to present a perfect image of the business.
- Be aware that the frachisors may give bonuses to current franchisees that help get newbies on board, so try to figure out if they are being totally truthful.
- The more franchisees you talk to, the better the information you will get.
- If the franchisor supplies you with a small pool of contact details, get out the phone book and ring around other franchisees. Use Google to research what news and events the franchise has been involved in.
- Try to get in touch with a wide variety of franchisees, from the most successful, to the struggling. This way you can assess whether the business is flourishing or failing because of the business model or the franchisee themselves. Talk to the oldest franchises and the newest ones. The guy who is just scraping by six years in will be as valuable to talk to as the star new kid in town who has already broke his first million.
- Use your gut, and try to get a feeling for the motivations of the franchisees you talk to.
You should have your own questions for franchisees depending on which industry you're investigating, but here is a checklist of must-ask things to quiz franchisees on:
- Are you happy with how the business is working out? If not, what issues are affecting you?
- How is your experience different from what you expected?
- Have you made your initial investment back yet? Did it take longer than you thought?
- How many hours a week do you work? Has this impacted on your personal life?
- Was the training what you expected it to be? Was it intensive or tailored to your own needs and abilities?
- Does the franchisor put any restrictions on products/services you can supply? How has this affected you?
- How would you rate marketing and advertising? Does the franchisor do all you expected or they promised?
- What support do you receive now? When problems have arisen how responsive was the franchisor?
- What did it cost you to build and start the franchise? Were there any hidden costs?
- What are the best and worst moments since you started?
If the average score of the franchise interviews is coming in at more than five out of ten, it could be an indication that this could be the right franchise for you!!