Here’s a little-known fact about franchise rankings that you see for franchise opportunities you’re potentially interested in buying.
Franchise industry insiders…the people who are actually in the business of franchising, look at franchise rankings in a much different way than say, prospective franchisees.
Franchise Rankings: “Locker Room” Conversations You Never Hear About
What follows are real conversations I’ve had about specific franchises and franchise business rankings with a few of my fellow franchise industry professionals. These are people who are very familiar with all kinds of franchising opportunities throughout North America.
Me: “Jimmy, can you believe they ranked Subway #1 again?”
Paul: “It’s ridiculous. Every freaking year. What gives?”
Me: “Howard, did you see the latest franchise business rankings in E _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ r magazine?
Howard: “I did. How did “Culver’s” get to be in the top 20 franchise opportunities?”
Me: “You got me. I’ve never seen Culver’s franchises-anywhere. It’s an ice-cream shop, right?”
Howard: “That’s what I thought. I guess it’s burgers and such, too. I’ve never been to one.”
Me: Right? How did Culver’s manage to get a spot in that magazine’s top franchise rankings? Weird.
Howard: Maybe it’s a fast-growing business concept…I don’t really hear the name much. Like at all.
Jennifer: “Joel…I just saw that “7-Eleven” was ranked #1 on a couple of franchise websites.”
Me: “7-Eleven? Really, Ann? How did they come up with a #1 ranking for 7-Eleven franchises?”
Jennifer: “No idea. Aren’t they always getting sued?”
Me: “Yes! A lot of franchisee lawsuits.”
Now those are just a small sampling of the conversations (locker room discussions) I’ve had with some of my fellow franchise industry colleagues.
And in my experience, more often than not, every industry has locker room talk. Does yours?
The Problem I Have With Franchise Rankings
Maybe my problem with franchise rankings has to do with my nature. I’m a very skeptical guy.
The good news is that my skepticism can benefit you if you’re looking to buy a franchise someday, especially if…
You’ve been downsized, and you want to do something different.
You hate your job, and you need to do something different.
You’re just curious-and want to learn about franchising so you can be your own boss. So you can become a franchisee.
Whatever your reason, I encourage you use my skepticism to your advantage. Take a breath or two before you…
Pull the trigger on a franchise business. Proceed with caution, until you know in your heart and mind that you’ve found the right one. You want to become a successful franchisee, right?
Why Am I Skeptical About Franchise Rankings?
It seems like more and more individuals and companies are ranking franchises these days. And that can only mean one thing.
There must be money to be made in franchise industry rankings. Why else would entire websites be built on the subject?
FYI: The reason I decided to write about franchise opportunities and their rankings has to do with a franchise business website I ran across. A site with the words “franchise” and “rankings” in the title.
About This “Rankings” Website
Unless you’ve been subscribed to my free VIP Franchise Newsletter, my blog, or have read any the 2000+ articles on franchising I’ve written over the past 20 years, you probably don’t know what drives me. It’s this:
I don’t want franchise buyers to lose their money.
One way I do that is by making sure today’s franchise business buyers are aware of the latest franchise marketing tactics.
In this case, it’s a company that wants you to believe they provide “unbiased” franchise rankings. Why should you care?
Because if one of the ways you’re doing franchise research includes finding out how franchises are “ranked,” and you potentially have a $200,000 investment riding on the results of that “ranking,” you could lose your money on the business.
Have I peaked your interest?
Check this out.
The Most Important Page On A Website
Without a doubt, the most important page on a business website is the “About” page. For example, look at mine.
Now, if you visit the website* I’m talking about, you’ll see quite a difference between my website and their website.
*I’ve decided to not give you the name of the website or provide a link to it. Why?
Because a link from my website to their website would probably help them move higher up in the search engines.
That said, I don’t want to get in the weeds with you, SEO-wise.
Just know that if a business website with higher authority links to a business website with lower authority, the site with lower authority benefits a lot. Anyway…back to the topic at hand.
I checked out the About page of the website I’m referring to, and here’s what I found.
Specifically, it’s pretty much impossible to find out who owns and operates this “franchise rankings” website. In my eyes, that makes the site less than legit.
And nothing burns my _ _ s more than finding a business website with no specific owner information.
Finally, and this is important, the website shows a picture of 35-40 employees.
Do you think all of them are focused on franchises?
The fact is, they’re not.
How do I know?
Because I’m online 10 hours a day. Plus, I wasn’t born yesterday.
The company I’m talking about does “rankings” for several other industries besides the franchising industry. But the average consumer looking into franchises doesn’t know that.
With that being said, my advice to you is be careful. Don’t trust every bit of business “data” you see online, as internet marketing can be quite manipulative.
The good news about this website is that they’ve been “evaluating and rating franchise opportunities for over ten years.” Sounds good to me. But how? I have no idea how they’ve been evaluating franchises. It gets even better.
They have a “connection to the industry.” Again, how?
Finally, the franchise rankings on their website are “independent.” How? Wait for it…
They use an algorithm. Perfect! So that’s how they rank franchises. Kind of.
To make a long story short, the website sells “Sponsorships” to franchise companies (franchisors).
These franchisors are probably approached by the “marketing team,” and are told that one of their franchisees tried to leave a “review,” and thought you’d want to know.
“And while I have you on the line, I thought I’d tell you about our sponsorship opportunities. You see, we own and operate a franchise rankings website, and you could be featured. It’s a great way for prospective franchise buyers to find you and read real reviews from your franchisees. Would you like to know more?“
Sounds pretty darn independent to me.
The bottom line?
I cannot and will not take a franchise “rankings” website seriously unless it provides me with some basic stuff.
For example, a little background information about the owner or owners. For starters, a name would be nice. An address too. A full address, including the city and state where your company is. And some references.
Are you picking up what I’m putting down?
Where You Get Your Franchise Information From Matters
If you’re going to invest $200,000 in a franchise, you need to take a hard look as to where you’re getting your information from. And I only gave you one example.
That’s because as more and more websites come online, it’s going to be harder to separate fact from fiction. Heck, it’s tough already.
That said, here are a few things you can do to check the legitimacy of a website.
- Does the About page have specific information about the owner of the site?
- If the website you’re getting a report or any information from is providing reviews, how are those reviews being gathered? Make sure you understand.
- Does the website accept advertising? If so, are the franchise companies that are advertising also being “recommended?” Is that part disclosed?
- In the same vain, are website advertisements for those franchise opportunities clearly marked? For example, are articles being written about franchisors really advertisements in disguise? Read this!
- Do you need to create an account to get basic information on the franchises you’re interested in? If so, that means they are aggressive marketers. Translation: you are going to get a lot of unwanted emails.
The Ugly Truth About Rankings
To summarize, not all franchise rankings are created equal.
Some are just rankings. And the websites share how they came up with their rankings.
Then you have those other “rankings.”
They’re the ones where money changes hands…although not in an obvious way.
You should never use those to make a yes or no decision on becoming a franchisee.