If you’re looking to become a franchise owner, there are several ways for you to increase your chances of success. One way is to arrange some time to talk with the operations people at franchise headquarters, and if possible, the president of the company. Some well thought out questions can have a huge impact on your decision to become a franchisee.
Here are five questions that most people I’ve consulted with never thought to ask:
- Can I have some specific examples of problems that your franchisees have experienced, and how your employees jumped in to help out?
(You are trying to find out how good their support team is. There should be some great “stories” of how they were able to alleviate a franchisee’s problems)
- What types of people have you found to be super-successful as franchise owners in your system, and what types of people have been below average?
(You are trying to find out if there are any patterns that you can detect with either the really successful franchisees, or the ones that have not done so well.)
- What are some of reasons you have turned down prospective franchisees?
(Here, you are trying to find out how serious they are about finding the best franchise owners.)
- Do you have any ongoing litigation with any franchisees? Can you tell me about it? If not, if you’ve had any litigation in the past, can you share what it was about, and how it ended up?
(Lots of franchise and non franchise companies experience the many pleasures of lawsuits. Listen carefully to their answers. Who sued who? What really happened?)
- Are there any major technology/equipment upgrades planned for the current system?
(Upgrades could be equipment upgrades that the individual franchisee has to pay for, or major technology upgrades that the franchise company pays for.)
Questions like those are not commonplace. That’s the point. The more you can learn before you invest, the better you’ll feel when you write a $35,000 check for the up-front franchise fee to the franchisor.
The entire business world is becoming more transparent. Allow me to rephrase that; The entire business world is learning that transparency is really the way to do business. Not many industries will be able to escape this fact in the near future.
Shel Holtz and John C. Havens wrote a book called “Tactical Transparency” last year, and it’s an important one. Here’s what Paolo Tosolini, the New Media Business Manager at Microsoft Corp. said after reading the book;
“Transparency is a necessary journey that takes effort and time, but has high rewards. Organizations of any size should recognize the value of being transparent and make employees part of the journey.”
Employees of the franchise companies that you are researching may or may not be able to answer some, or even all of these questions. If they can’t, they should at least be willing to go the extra mile to get those questions answered, though.
Recently, a franchise candidate of mine submitted a list of questions to a franchisor that were amazing. The franchise director came back with answers to all of them within 24 hours. Even I was impressed. I wasn’t as impressed as my franchise candidate though. He’s getting ready to visit the California headquarters of this franchisor, and make a yes or no decision.
Do you think it had to do with the way they consciously chose to handle my candidate. (A guy who just wants to make sure he’s doing the right thing for himself, and his family.)
Update! The gentleman who visited franchise headquarters in California decided to become a franchise owner. His in-person visit with the executives of the franchise company mirrored the phone and email exchanges that took place during his information gathering stage. His expectations were met. (According to my franchise candidate, they were “exceeded.”) In the end, that’s all he wanted.
Consumers can’t be “slammed” into making purchases anymore. They want to feel that they are in control of the buying process like never before. Companies that understand this will be successful ones. Companies that allow the buying process to happen naturally, will win. Companies that refuse to adapt to our rapidly changing buying environments, will fade away.