If you’re looking into buying a franchise, getting to know real franchisees is a must.
When you’re doing your due diligence, you’ll see a lot of information about every franchise [especially if you have their Franchise Disclosure Document—or FDD—which is about the size of a phone book]. So getting to know a real franchisee is vital to understanding whether or not a company/business model is a true match to your strengths, temperament, and skills.
Franchisors want to find the perfect candidates for their brand, so they welcome questions— both to their executive team and to current owners. And that’s great news if you’re looking for an opportunity, but want to know the real deal about how the franchise works.
We’ve got some tips and strategies to keep in mind when you’re getting to know real franchisees.
- Wait for the parent company to give you the green light before setting up calls or meetings with franchisees.
- Plan ahead (and make sure that plan includes more than one visit/call with more than one franchise).
- Find both happy and unhappy franchisees, so you can have a clearer sense of pros and cons. Pay attention to whether the happy franchisees have more in common with you than the unhappy ones— that’s a good sign that you’re likely to be a great fit in that franchise.
- Ask your executive team member to recommend contacts for you that are high, medium, and low performers within the franchise. Getting to know them—and comparing their experiences, perception, and attitude with yours—could give you an idea of how you’d perform within their business model.
- Keep in mind that franchisees near you may respond differently to some of your questions (if they have plans to expand into your area). To counter this, try to focus on franchisees that live far from you first.
During the Call:
- Introduce yourself and let them know you’re a potential franchise owner.
- Let them know who you’re working with from the executive team/parent company.
- When talking to local franchisees, ask them about the local market (and the challenges and opportunities they run into as a franchise owner).
- Ask them if they have been able to achieve their goals (why or why not), and what their future goals are.
When You Hear Negative Feedback:
- Weigh it against all the other feedback you’ve heard, and the facts in the FDD.
- Keep in mind how long the person has been with the parent company—and how that might affect their perception of challenges, setbacks, and their relationship to the franchisor.
Bottom line: don’t be afraid to get to know a real franchisee! Their feedback—both positive and negative—plays an integral role in your franchise-buying decision.