Before you get too serious about a specific franchise opportunity, it’s crucial to do serious research.
I’m talking about the kind of research that will enable you to get the facts you need to make a smart decision. A decision that will impact your life for years to come.
To this end, one of the most effective ways to do good franchise research is to contact existing franchise owners by phone-and talk to them. And ask them a lot of questions. But not just any questions.
What follows are 15 questions you must ask at least 15 existing franchisees as part of your research. The answers you get will help determine if:
A. You’re looking at a franchise opportunity that you can be successful owning
b. You’re looking at a franchise opportunity that will bleed you dry
On that uplifting note, let’s dig in.
“Research means that you don’t know, but are willing to find out.”
– Charles F. Kettering
15 Essential Questions To Ask 15 Existing Franchisees
I encourage you to print these 15 questions out, so you’ll have them in front of you when you call franchisees.
Additionally, I’ve provided several franchise research tips that I know you’ll find useful. You’ll see them after question #15.
Here are the questions to ask.
1. What happened that made you decide to buy a franchise business?
2. How did you find this franchise opportunity?
3. Why did you end up choosing this franchise?
4. How long, from beginning to end, did it take for you to do your research, and sign the franchise agreement?
5. How long did it take for you to open your business?
6. What are your favorite and least favorite parts of the business?
7. Who are your biggest competitors, and what do you do better than them?
8. How long did it take for you to break-even, and is there something you could have done to reach break-even faster?
9. Have your income expectations been met, and if not, why do you think that is?
10. Is there money to be made in this business? How much?
11. How long does it generally take to get help from franchise headquarters? Is it good?
12. If you have a complaint, how do you go about making it, and how does the franchisor respond?
13. Can you tell me about marketing, and how well it works?
14. Can you tell me something that I would have no way of knowing unless I was already a franchisee
15. If you had it to do over again, would you buy this franchise? Why or why not?
Franchise Research Tips
Here are a few research tips that will enable you to get the best information you can, in the shortest amount of time. These tips are focused on franchisee phone calls; they’re only part of the research you’ll need to do.
1. Have a printout of the questions in front of you before you start calling franchisees. I know this one sounds obvious, but because you have a lot on your mind, you may forget to print the questions out.
2. Know who you’re going to call before you start the process. One way to do it to circle the names and phone numbers of the franchisees you find in the FDD.
3. As much as you’re tempted, don’t call franchisees who have businesses in your area first.
Instead, call franchisees from other parts of the country. That way, by the time you do talk to franchisees that reside in your area, you’ll sound like you know what you’re doing. You’ll sound more confident.
Case in point: I promise you that the first few call you make to existing franchisees are going to be a bit choppy. That’s because you’re new to this, and you’re asking them some pretty personal questions. But don’t worry; after 3-4 calls, you’ll have a feel for how to approach the calls.
4. If something troubling comes up during one of your franchisee calls, contact the franchise development representative (the salesperson) at franchise headquarters, and bring it up. See how he or she reacts, and listen to what’s being said. And bring up the issue you were just told about with other franchisees. See what they have to say.