What franchise is right for you? To answer that question, you need to do a thorough investigation. At the outset, this process should include exploring different franchise systems and industries online, attending franchise conferences and events, brushing up on franchise terms and terminology and creating a short list of the top franchise options that are consistent with your long term business and personal lifestyle goals, skill set and financial situation.
Then, it’s time to start asking some questions of your own. We’ve already covered some of the key questions to ask franchisors, but it’s just as important to ask the right questions of existing franchise operators. After all, nobody can give you the inside scoop like someone who is inside the system.
Of course, you can’t just pick up the phone and start dialing; you’ll need to do your due diligence and earn the right to make the calls. A world class franchisor will have a world class process for you to follow and there are steps to complete before it’s appropriate to ask existing franchise operators to give you their time.
Here’s how to do that:
- You’ll need to conduct online research
- Have detailed initial conversations with the franchise development team
- Start your process to secure financing
- Submit a Request for Franchise Consideration — this is your application
Once you’ve completed those steps, the franchise team will be willing to put you in touch with franchise operators. Everyone wants to be sure you learn everything you need to know to make an educated decision. As you go through the franchisor’s process it’s important to know that they, including the existing franchise operators in the system, are interviewing you at the same time you are learning about them. A good franchisor is going to be picky about who gets to join the club!
When you do get to speak with your potential teammates, these are the questions you should ask them:
1. How Would You Rate The Level Of Training You Received?
Franchise training should prepare new franchisees for short- and long-term success, but not all training programs are effective. Ask the franchisees to assess their level of satisfaction with their training. If the franchise team consistently gets high marks, then that is an encouraging sign; if not, you might want to consider other alternatives.
2. What Do You Think About The Franchise’s Marketing Efforts?
Most franchise systems maintain a collective franchise marketing and advertising fund, which is used to pay for national campaigns and advertising. Like any other investment, you want to make sure that you will realize a return. Therefore, be sure to ascertain how the fund is used and if it is paying off in the form of increased awareness, leads and sales for local franchisees.
3. What Type Of Support Do You Receive?
One of the distinct advantages of starting a franchise is the fact that you will be part of a team. But not all teams are built to win. The best franchise systems are there to help franchisees maximize their revenues by providing guidance and answers, when needed, as well as proactive advice and best practices.
Make sure that existing franchisees are receiving the level of support that they — and you — need to thrive.
4. Are There Any Hidden Costs Or Fees?
Respected franchises are upfront when it comes to costs, clearly spelling out startup expenses, franchise fees and royalty payments. This transparency is important, because new franchisees need to know how to budget to keep their business and personal finances afloat. Ask franchise operators if they’ve experienced any surprises when it comes to costs.
5. How Many Franchisees Have Started Since You Opened Your Doors?
You want to be part of a company on the rise, one that is growing in terms of both revenue and reach. However, you want to avoid franchisees that are expanding too rapidly, cannibalizing franchise territories and putting undue financial pressure on franchisees.
There are many high-profile cases of franchisees overexpanding, such as Boston Market, which grew from 20 stores to 900 stores within a decade before filing for bankruptcy due to overexpansion. Gauge whether or not the franchisees are comfortable with the pace of expansion.
6. How Has Reality Matched Your Expectations?
After researching the franchise so thoroughly and speaking to members of the management team, you’ll probably have a preconceived notion of what life is like as a franchisee. But how does this notion compare to reality? Find out by asking franchisees how much of what they heard and were promised before they bought in — the model, the leadership team, the path for growth, work-life balance, etc. — has come true.
7. Can You Tell Me About Your Franchise Support Representative?
Of all the members of the franchise management team, perhaps none will play a bigger role in the life of a franchisee than the franchise support representative. These individuals are out in the trenches, working with franchisees on a day-to-day basis and keeping them on track for success.
A great support representative can really push a new franchisee in the right direction, and to new heights. On the other hand, if the wrong person is in this role, that can be extremely frustrating for franchise operators, which can sink spirits and the business as a whole. Make sure the franchise support representative you will work with has the right attitude, skills, experience and knowledge.
8. How Long Did It Take You To Break Even On Your Initial Investment?
People start their own franchises for many reasons; but one universally held goal is to make money. Fortunately, you can make a lot of it as a franchisee. However, depending upon the system, it could take awhile before you recoup your initial startup costs. Get the lowdown on how far down the road you can expect to turn a profit.
9. Would You Do It Again?
This is probably the most important question you can ask. If, given the opportunity to start over, would the franchisees take it — or take a different path? If most of the people you speak with want to get out, you should avoid getting in.
10. What Advice Would You Give To New Franchisees?
If the answers to the other questions on this list paint a positive picture of the franchise and make you want to join in, then you might want to tap into the secrets of successful franchisees.
Fortunately, if you are interested in joining Bin There Dump That, we’ve put all this great advice in one place. Download our free e-book, “Business Secrets From Top Franchisees,” and get the answers you need without even picking up the phone.