• Young Couple Buys Franchise And Explains How They Utilized This Blog During The Process

    Posted on July 22nd, 2009 johnhayes No comments

    New franchisees: Rob and Misti Reed

    New franchisees: Rob and Misti Reed

    “What do you know about PuroClean?”

    The question came from a concerned father who was looking out for his daughter and son-in-law.

    First-time buyers

    The young couple was planning to buy a franchise — and they had not owned one before. They had downloaded my report: 92+ Questions To Ask Before You Invest In A Franchise and had used it to build their own list of 92 questions! (Through the years, thousands of franchise prospects have obtained a copy of that report — always free! It’s still free to subscribers of this blog).

    The young couple was now beginning the franchise discovery process and dad wanted to make sure they were getting good advice.

    Tell them to do their homework!

    I responded that I didn’t know the folks at PuroClean — I’ve not consulted with them or spoken at their franchise convention, for example (though I’d surely welcome the opportunity, especially now) — and I suggested that the young couple do their homework, compare PuroClean to other companies in the same industry, talk to franchisees (including former franchisees), dig into the financial opportunity, read and re-read the disclosure document, meet with responsible franchise advisors, attend Discovery Day, etc. — in other words, thoroughly research the opportunity before making a decision.

    Several weeks went by and occasionally I’d get an update from dad, and then on July 20 I got word that the deal was done: Misti and Rob Reed had signed a franchise agreement with PuroClean.

    Misti writing the check!

    Misti writing the check!

    The thrill of a deal

    For a blogger, it doesn’t get any better than knowing that someone visited your site, subscribed to your free blog, followed your suggestions, and found a deal they liked! I’m proud to have been a catalyst for this young couple, and I plan to follow their franchise journey, especially since I feel like I helped birth it.

    Q&A: Misti Reed answers my questions

    Rather than tell you the couple’s story in my words, I’ve decided to do a Q&A so that you can hear directly from Misti.

    JPH: How did my blog help you? (May as well ask the selfish questions right away! And this may be a good place to remind my readers that I do not broker franchise deals; I do not sell franchises; I do not receive commissions or fees for selling franchises. My reward in this particular transaction is the opportunity to get this story and report it, boastfully!)

    Misti: It was a great tool to reference during all phases of our research. This is our first time to purchase a business and it was helpful to be able to read the blog and review your webinars and articles. I look forward to the email updates and found the information was always easy to understand and very applicable to our needs.

    JPH: After you downloaded my list of 92+ Questions, you then created your own list. How did that work?

    Misti: Your list of questions was a perfect starting point to look through and decide which questions had already been covered and which I had forgotten. The (PuroClean) franchise representative was very impressed with how extensive our list was. Since this was our first time going through this process, it was comforting to know what was normal and acceptable to ask.

    JPH: How did the franchisor respond when you presented 92 questions? It’s a lot of questions! I think some franchisors might get annoyed with the volume.

    Misti: We did eventually get all 92 of our questions answered! Something I didn’t expect was that it was hard to cover a large amount of questions at once. We had weekly, one hour calls with our (franchise representative) and she had a set agenda for each week. She recognized that we would cover most of my questions throughout the process, therefore, rather than throw all of my questions at her at once, she asked that I revise my list each week after our call. . . . Some of the questions were covered very early in the process; a large number were covered when we received the disclosure document; and the remaining questions were covered during our validation calls and at Discovery Day.

    JPH: How long did it take to do your homework and research the opportunity and then decide that you wanted to buy the franchise?

    Misti: Our process took about six weeks. By the end of the first three to four weeks we had a very good grasp on the franchise opportunity and felt that most of our pressing questions had been answered. We started researching the franchise at the beginning of June, attended Meet The Team Day (Discovery Day) on July 20, and wrote the check that same day!

    JPH: After looking at other franchises, why did you choose PuroClean?

    Misti: Three reasons:

    1. We wanted an industry that is as “recession proof” as possible.
    2. PuroClean excels in its industry in the area of Customer Satisfaction, which was one of our “must haves.”
    3. The margins! If properly run, this can be a very profitable industry.

    They’re off to training

    Misti and Rob will attend PuroClean’s 3-week basic training in August and then begin operating their business in Grayson County, Texas. Of course, along with their dad, I wish them all the best, and we’ll look forward to periodic updates.

    Here’s what I appreciate most about the Reeds’ story: This is how it works! My job is to give you good information — information that you can trust and implement — and your job is to put it to work to your own advantage.

    Congratulations to PuroClean’s new Texas franchisees!


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  • Just Because The Franchise Marketing System Drives Customers To Your Door Doesn’t Mean You Should Buy That Franchise

    Posted on July 13th, 2009 johnhayes 1 comment

    fire_buy-franchise_hot-franchiseIf you own a business, you know there are “right” customers and “wrong” customers and while you may not (yet) know how to tell them apart before they become your customer, you know that the “wrong” customers deliver the least value and create the majority of problems in your business.

    Who is a customer?

    Customers (or clients), by the way, are not just the people who buy your products and services. They also include your employees, and if you’re a franchisor, they include your franchisees.

    Be careful of expert advice!

    So I read a passage on a blog that provided “some helpful hints on how you can spot a great franchise marketing system” and the first hint was this:

    Customers are brought in the doors. This is what every business boils down to in the end, whether or not the marketing system brings in the customers. After all, that is where you make your profits.

    Taking the express train to bankruptcy

    And I thought to myself: Or that is where you lose your profits, your money and ultimately your business!

    It’s not enough to drive customers through the doors of a franchise, or any business. You’ve got to drive the “right” customers through the doors! Most businesses, and most marketing systems, do not fulfill that objective. And that’s one reason why businesses struggle and fail.

    So don’t buy the franchise because “the marketing system” drives customers to the door!

    Happy franchisees make the most money

    To wit: Some years ago the new CEO of a major retail franchisor asked me to help his franchisees attract more customers and ultimately generate higher revenues so that (a) the franchisees would earn (and keep) more money, and (b) the franchisees would pay higher royalties. Since the beginning of franchising, franchisors have known that franchisees who make and keep the most money are the happiest franchisees!

    So I spent several weeks working with a few franchisees to find out more about their customers. Here’s what we discovered (and I mean discovered — neither the franchisor nor the franchisees knew this information beforehand):

    • It cost the “average” franchisee $100 to get a new customer to come through the door (that included marketing costs and the required fee for the franchise advertising fund).
    • The “average” customer spent about $10.
    • No one knew if the customer would return — ever.
    • If the customer did return — no one could predict when or how often.
    • The “average” franchisee did little to nothing to bring the customer back again repeatedly (and you may be surprised to find out why).

    Busy, busy, busy going out of business!

    So while it appeared “the marketing system” was doing its job, e.g. the franchisees were busy serving customers throughout the day, in reality “the marketing system” was slowly running the franchisees out of business (and perhaps into an early grave)!

    That and the fact that the franchisees were so busy, busy, busy taking care of all the customers “the marketing system” provided that they had no time to do the things that would have insured getting the maximum benefit out of their customers, i.e. increasing sales, increasing frequency, building rapport with key customers, gathering referrals, etc.

    Who caused that fire?

    As one franchisee told me, “From the time I open the door in the morning until I close it at the end of a long day, I don’t have time to do anything but put out fires.”

    Going through my mind: Does that sound like an ideal franchisee? How long is that franchisee going to last? How much validating will that franchisee do for the company?

    Upon examination, most of the “fires” were caused by customers and employees. Occasionally, even though they didn’t know it, the franchisee caused some of the fires!

    Blame it on the franchisor, of course

    You can be sure the franchisor was being blamed for the majority of the challenges the franchisees faced. Frankly, I would take the side of the franchisees on that issue (though it does no good to blame anyone, but rather to accept responsibility). The franchisor could have done a better job sooner! In other words, the CEO that hired me had only recently arrived at the company. To his credit, he quickly assessed “the marketing system” and knew that it was broken. However, this company had been operating for many years prior to hiring this CEO. Where were the marketing folks all those years? Where was the company’s leadership?

    Why doesn’t this system work?

    So what was wrong with “the marketing system” at this client company?

    Simply, it was producing the “wrong” customers for the franchisees!

    Even among customers there are stars

    Through our continued research we further discovered that not all customers were created equal! Some spent more money than others and never, ever complained or started a “fire”! Of course, those were “the right” customers.

    Problem was, “the marketing system” — which attracted franchisees, along with the company’s brand name — produced too few “right” customers.

    Revealing more about “right” customers

    Without giving away too much information (and revealing the company), here’s more of what we discovered about the “right” retail customers for this franchise business. They:

    • spent about twice as much as the average customer
    • returned 3 to 4 times a week
    • owned a business, which existed within 3.5 miles of the franchise location
    • were males (64%) and females (36%)
    • had partners in their business (46%); most often, a spouse
    • were between the ages of 32 and 62

    Remember garbage in, garbage out?

    Wow! With just that information alone we could create a new marketing system that would target the “right” customers! All others were probably “wrong” for the business. The all-important “marketing system” was targeting “all others”!

    Ultimately, with the help of the company’s advertising agency, we created a new marketing system that achieved the goals established by the CEO and supported by the Franchise Advisory Council.

    Careful of the advice you get

    So I shiver when I see “advice” that tells you to buy a franchise where there’s a “marketing system” that “brings in the customers.”

    That’s good advice only if the customers are “right” customers. If they’re “wrong” customers, you can plan on owning and operating a business filled with headaches, challenges, issues, “fires” and, ultimately, not enough money for you or the franchisor.

    And why would you want to do that when there are so many good “marketing systems” out there?

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    • Do you know who your “right” customers are?
    • Do you know how to find more of them?
    • Do you keep them coming back for more once you capture them?

    Here’s an opportunity for franchisors, franchisees and suppliers to conveniently increase your marketing prowess and generate more revenue, when you participate in this tele-webinar: How To Capture & Keep The Right Customers. Click here for details and save money when you register by July 22.

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    Watch this video; less than 4-minutes and learn more about how to transform your business into a the thriving, satisfying enterprise you really want!

    Photo image by: Sister72

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  • “You Mean I’ve Got To Pay A Percentage Of My Sales To The Franchisor . . . Forever? . . . Why? And How Does That Make Sense?”

    Posted on July 11th, 2009 johnhayes No comments

    franchise_royalty_buy-franchiseYou guessed it. Isabel is back! (Scroll to the bottom of this article for links to previous Isabel articles and follow her journey as she hopes to buy a franchise).

    And she’s got questions about the franchisor’s royalty fee.

    Shouting about the royalty fee

    Without doubt, it’s one of the financial (and sometimes psychological) stumbling blocks in a prospective franchisee’s due diligence.

    “You mean to tell me the franchisor’s going to take seven cents of every dollar I collect from my customers? . . . They take the royalty out of my gross sales?” asked (actually, shouted) Isabel.

    “That’s what I mean to tell you!” I shouted back. (Sometimes you fight fire with fire, even when you’re talking to a customer).

    Royalty fees vary from company to company

    Not all franchisors charge a 7% royalty, as you probably know. Some charge less; some charge more. And some charge a flat fee, i.e. $500 a month, or $800 per transaction. Most, however, charge a percentage royalty and it’s almost always against the franchisee’s gross sales, not the net sales. Whatever the case, the royalty fee will be clearly disclosed in the franchisor’s disclosure document.

    “Well I think they ought to take their royalty out of my net sales because, after all, I might not make any money!” Isabel continued shouting.

    Let’s speak rationally about royalties

    “I understand,” I told her, now speaking calmly, trying to settle her down. “But it doesn’t work that way, Izz. By the time you back out all your expenses, including possibly even paying for your car, and your husband’s car . . . ”

    “I don’t have a husband,” she snapped. . . .

    “Sorry,” I continued. “I should not have assumed . . . .”

    “He’s my boyfriend,” she added.

    Getting down to the net money

    “Okay, then by the time you back out the expense of paying for your boyfriend’s car, which I realize you wouldn’t do, but let me make a point here,” I hurriedly said. “There are lots of ‘lifestyle’ expenses that a franchisee might pay for out of their business revenue, and that’s not fair to the franchisor. Because by the time you get finished paying for expenses, your net revenue could be negative! Then the franchisor collects zero.”

    “I wouldn’t expect them to get zero,” she said, calmly. “But isn’t seven percent of the gross a lot of money? . . . And” — getting excited again — “they’re going to collect it every month? For as long as I’m a franchisee?” Yep, back to shouting at me again.

    What’s a lot of money?

    “Maybe . . . yes . . . yes,” I said. “In other words, it may be ‘a lot of money’ but I can’t tell you that without knowing more of the details. How much gross revenue will you generate? . . . And yes, they’re going to collect the money monthly (unless the agreement specifies otherwise, i.e. weekly), and yes, they’ll expect to collect a royalty for as long as you’re a franchisee.”

    How do they spend those royalty dollars?

    Seven percent — any percentage as far as that goes — may be “a lot of money,” but franchisors have a right to collect it. They need to collect it, in fact! Because how else do they meet their financial requirements?

    Franchisors have substantial expenses to cover every month. Landlords want to get their rent, employees want to get their paychecks, vendors expect to collect their money, the attorneys need to be paid, the franchise sales team wants its commissions, there’s airfare to pay, support costs to be covered, etc. etc. etc. You get the point.

    Royalties pay for all that and more!

    Cut to the chase with franchisors

    I decided to cut to the chase with Isabel. “Don’t get too uptight about royalties until you gather more information,” I continued. “Have you asked the franchisor to tell you what they do with your royalty money?”

    “No,” she said, sounding surprised that she could ask that question.

    “Why not?”

    “Will they tell me?” she asked.

    Move on if they won’t answer your questions

    “If they won’t, I’d suggest you look for another franchise to buy. Good franchisors will tell you. Take a look at their audited financial statement — it’s part of the disclosure document. Right there you can figure out how they’re spending those royalty dollars. You have a right to know this, and the franchisor doesn’t keep it a secret. Ask them to break it down for you. What do they do with your royalty money?”

    “I hadn’t thought of that,” she said. “I’ll do it. I think it’s a lot of money, seven percent of every dollar I bring into the business.”

    “No doubt it will be a lot of money,” I said, “but what do you think it costs to operate a franchise company? I already knew her answer so I quickly added, “It’s time you find out.”

    “Okay, I will,” she said.

    Royalties get reinvested in franchisees

    I was on a roll: “Keep in mind that some of that royalty money should be spent on you! It’s reinvested in you.”

    “How so?”

    “Do you expect the franchisor to provide you with support?”

    “Of course!” She was snapping at me again. (Granted, I deserved it for sounding dimwitted).

    A franchisor’s support doesn’t come without expense

    “Do you think they should provide that support free of charge? I know you don’t, Izz. But again, I’m making my point. If the franchisor employs someone who is responsible for taking care of Isabel, that’s important to know. And if that person is good, I bet Isabel wants that person to be well paid so he or she stays on board and continues to provide that valuable support. Right?”

    “I get the picture,” she said.

    Can the franchisor afford to sustain the business?

    “I knew you would,” I continued. “You’re on the right track. Ask more questions about how the franchisor spends your royalty dollars. Make sure the franchisor is re-investing some of that money in you by providing support, training programs, creating new marketing materials, developing new product lines, creating new opportunities for you to sell more, etc. etc. etc.”

    “I got it!”

    “Go get ‘em, Isabel! . . . And don’t get overly excited. Royalties are part of the franchise model. If you can’t afford to pay them, then don’t buy that franchise. Better to find out now rather than after you buy the franchise! Franchisors aren’t stupid. They realize their model has to work for you as well as for them. It’s your job to ask all the questions now, to get at the nitty gritty of how the model works. Stay focused and you’ll get the answers you need. I’m sure of it!”

    Royalties pay profits to franchisors

    Oh, by the way, I didn’t have the chance to say this to Isabel — actually, I just didn’t want to brave it in this particular conversation. Royalties also include the franchisor’s profits!

    Yes, franchisors are in business to make a profit. A good profit! (Again, look at the audited financial statement and find out how much profit). They make their profit off the franchisees’ royalty dollars. And we’ll talk about that topic another time!

    More Isabel Blogs

    Is Franchising Indentured Servitude?

    Figuring OUt What You’ll Earn As A Franchisee Even When The Franchisor Doesn’t Tell You

    Figuring Out What You’ll Earn As A Franchisee Even When The Franchisor Doesn’t Tell You — Part II

    The Franchisor Spelled It All Out And Isabel Was Furious! She Screamed: “Do They Think Franchisees Are Robots?”

    Why You Can’t Have It ‘Your Way’ When You Buy A Franchise. Get This: It’s Not A Democracy!

    Photo image by: net_efekt

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  • “You Can’t Fix A Loser” . . . Look Out: They’re In Every Franchise Network And They Seek More Miserable Company!

    Posted on July 7th, 2009 johnhayes No comments

    franchise_loser_hot_buyWhen I read the words this morning during a coffee break, I laughed. “You can’t fix a loser!” said Dan Kennedy, one of my long-time marketing mentors. He doesn’t mince words, which is one of those love/hate things about him. Kennedy makes it clear that he’s not interested in making friends, so you don’t read him with any expectations of having a drink or dinner with him. You read him purely because you want to get better at what you do! Losers aren’t interested in getting better.

    Franchisees who get it avoid the losers

    I laughed when I read the words because it’s something I would say, though I haven’t said it quite like that. And it reminded me of several passages in a book that I wrote not long ago: Get It! It’s about franchisees that have cultivated a millionaire mindset. They are successful because they practice a dozen distinct habits, including avoiding the “losers” in franchising.

    “Losers” exist in every franchise network

    Many of the franchisees I interviewed for Get it! told me of the importance of protecting themselves from — though they didn’t necessarily use the word — the “losers” in their franchise network. It doesn’t matter which franchise network, by the way. I’ve been interviewing franchisees and franchisors for 30 years and “losers” — define the word however you want — are in every network.

    When I asked Steve Masry, a West Palm Beach, FL franchisee since 2002, what separated successful franchisees from non-successful franchisees, he didn’t hesitate: “Three things and only three things,” he said. “First is the least important: how much money they can get access to. Second: how they deal with problems — problems will occur daily. And third — this is most important — how they think.” Losing in business is a byproduct of negative thinking.

    No naysayers allowed: only visionaries

    Steve pointed out that his perspective had been developed through a period of pain. “(Other franchisees) think I’m crazy,” he said, because he distances himself from the losers, “but I know who I am and I have eradicated the naysayers from my life. You can’t be around me if you don’t share the vision, the passion and the joy.”

    Steve continued, “What’s different about the unsuccessful franchisees is that when they face a problem, they think about everything that can go wrong. I think about solutions. I don’t think about problems until they exist. I don’t bury my head, I face the problem, and my first thought is usually negative, so I remove it and search for solutions. I know the solution exists and I’ll find it.”

    Look out for contrary thoughts

    He explained that “each of us” is the sum of our thoughts. “If you think bad thoughts — Oh no, there’s a problem, I’m going to run out of money and lose my business — then you won’t succeed. I remind myself every morning that I went from almost going out of business and filing a bankruptcy to (achieving success in my business). When a contrary thought presents itself, I remove it and replace it with the truth. That’s what you do when you’re unwilling to accept anything but success.”

    In a similarly pro-active manner, Patti Robertson in Norfolk, VA — she and her husband are multi-concept franchisees — told me, “The (franchisees) who are successful are the ones who take action, not the ones who are always complaining or worrying about things. We always take action . . . .” Losers, on the other hand, rarely do. They whine, they complain, they moan, but they do not take action for fear of changing their circumstances for the better.

    He could tell the losers just by their voice

    Mitch Cohen, a veteran business owner in Queens, NY, used to spend hours talking to franchisees in his network. “From the moment I picked up the phone and heard their voice I knew whether or not I wanted to talk to them,” he explained.

    “When they started with, ‘How’s the market treating you?’ I knew it wasn’t going to be a discussion I wanted to have. I realize that misery loves company, but I don’t want that kind of company and I don’t want the misery. Why would you even ask, ‘How’s the market treating you?’ There’s just no sense having that conversation and it’s unfortunate there are franchisees who think like that.”

    Losers lack clarity of thought and purpose

    Franchisees may think like that because they suffer from a lack of clarity, explained Bob DeClue, a franchise entrepreneur in St. Louis, MO. “That’s the difference between successful and unsuccessful franchisees. Without clarify, the unsuccessful people can’t succeed. They don’t know not to quit. They don’t know it because, how could they? They quit! They have no clarity. They don’t understand that the way to success is to never quit. If you don’t quit, you can’t fail. It’s just a different way of thinking.” Losers, on the other hand, like their way of thinking!

    In Springfield, MO, J. Barry Watts is a positive-focused franchisee who said the Bible gives him no choice. “As a man thinks in his heart, so he becomes. I believe that,” Barry said.

    “While I’m not as successful or wealthy as I’d like . . . the big question really is whether or not I’ve done the most with me? If I have, then ‘well done, good and faithful servant’.”

    Losers can’t help you

    Whether you’re searching for a franchise to buy, or you’re trying to figure out how to improve the franchise you own, this I know: Losers can’t help you!

    In fact, losers don’t want to help you. They want to bring you down. They’ll tell you that franchising in general doesn’t work, or that the franchise they bought doesn’t work. They’ll tell you the franchisor is out to get them, that the concept worked in a different market but not their market — their market is always different — and this is wrong and that is wrong . . . .

    Unfortunately, as I learned while I was first a franchisee then the CEO of HomeVestors, some franchisees do not want to Get It! They like complaining too much to win!

    Avoid the losers in franchising . . . they will seek your company and it will be miserable. And whatever you do, don’t even think that you can fix them!

    Photo image by: choking sun

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  • If The Franchise Isn’t A Phenomenal Business Model For You. . . Run! Here’s How You’ll Know

    Posted on July 4th, 2009 johnhayes No comments

    franchise_victim_buy

    When the Twitter “franchise victim” said, “Franchising is a phenomenal business model for the franchisor” — did you believe him?

    A few readers who wrote to me actually did. Of course, they also claimed to be “franchise victims.”

    Disgruntled and pimping his own opportunity

    But most readers who wrote to me after I invited them to in my previous blog disregarded the statement as not only a disgruntled former franchisee, but in this case, someone who was degrading franchising in an attempt to make his “bus opp” look more desirable. Smart readers!

    I acknowledge there really are victims, sadly

    Before I say more on the topic, I want to acknowledge that there are indeed real franchise victims in the world (and the fellow on Twitter may be one) and I sympathize with them. I wish their stories had turned out differently. I’ll also say that in many instances I know they were victimized by despicable franchisors. Franchising is not immune from people who want to bastardize it and take advantage of other people. However — and I say this with disappointment — that’s life. Some non-franchised businesses take advantage of people. Ponzi schemes take advantage of people. Some homeless shelters take advantage of people. Even some churches take advantage of people! Sadly, it’s life.

    Buyer beware, it’s true in franchising, too

    If you’re going to invest money in a business — buyer beware! I know that doesn’t help the victims, but I hope it at least says to them that I believe (some of) them and I acknowledge that they were faultless in their misfortunes. Again, I wish it had turned out differently.

    But because it didn’t, and because it doesn’t some of the time, that’s not a reason to turn my back on franchising, any more than I’m turning my back on network marketing, or business opportunities, or — for that matter — churches and homeless shelters!

    Back to the statement in question

    Now to the statement by the Twitter “franchise victim” who wants us to believe that franchising only works out for franchisors and not for franchisees.

    Come on now. Go tell that to the thousands of successful franchisees in America alone.

    How to protect your investment

    However, since it doesn’t make sense to argue with a faceless Twitterite, and since franchising can be manipulated to benefit only the franchisor, here are four steps you must take to protect yourself before you invest in a franchise.

    #1 get the franchisor’s disclosure document and read it

    First, get the franchisor’s disclosure document, read it (several times) and ask your advisors to read it and discuss it with you.

    Now the odd thing about this is that franchise critics often pooh-pooh the disclosure document as just another tool in the hands of evil franchisors. They claim the document isn’t of much value — it merely tells you, the prospective franchisee, what’s expected of you and what you must do throughout the lifetime of the franchise relationship, and it doesn’t provide “really useful information” because those “evil franchisors” don’t want you to know the really useful information.

    Find out what’s expected of you as a franchisee

    However, if the document at least tells you what’s expected of you (and I promise it tells you much, much more) that’s a great start. It’s much better than buying a non-franchised business, or starting your own business and not knowing what actually will be expected of you!

    The disclosure document spells out the amount of money you will need to invest in the franchise, it explains your rights as a franchisee, it details your location, it tells you what you can sell as a franchisee, it includes the franchisor’s audited financial statement, and much more. Some disclosure documents also include earnings claims, but most do not.

    Be smart, and avoid stupidity

    To overlook the disclosure document (as some “victims” have admitted to me that they did) is inexcusable and, frankly, stupid.

    #2 get the list of franchisees present and past

    Second, get the list of former and existing franchisees.

    It’s in the back of the disclosure document — required by law to be there! Use the list to your advantage. Call franchisees on the list and plan to visit at least one of them. Once again, many “victims” overlooked this opportunity. They became so excited about buying a business that they neglected to do the due diligence, which includes contacting former and existing franchisees.

    Do more than just ask questions

    It’s not enough to call a few franchisees and ask them questions by phone. That’s a good exercise, but you should visit a franchisee at the franchisee’s location. Even better, volunteer to work for the franchisee for a couple of weeks — there’s a reason why McDonald’s, the most successful franchise in the world, requires prospective franchisees to work in a McDonald’s for one year prior to qualifying to become a franchisee.

    #3 talk to the right people first

    Third, consult with your advisors.

    You need a franchise attorney. Not just a business attorney. Not the attorney who handled your father’s will. Definitely not your divorce attorney! You need an attorney who understands franchise laws. Ask the attorney to review the documents the franchisor provides to you — the disclosure and the franchise agreement.

    Many accountants dislike franchising

    You need to speak to an accountant. Preferably an accountant who is a franchisee because he or she will understand franchising. Many accountants do not understand or appreciate franchising — they’re more likely to tell you that you don’t need a franchise and that you should not pay a royalty. Unfortunately they don’t always tell you that your chances of succeeding on your own, without a legitimate, successful, working franchise, are very slim.

    Find an accountant who is a franchisee (consult the list of accounting franchisors) and ask him or her to review your business plan and also look at your franchise documentation.

    It’s optional, but franchise consultants may help you

    You might also want to speak to a franchise consultant, though it’s not absolutely necessary, especially if you’ve wisely selected your attorney and accountant. Guess what: Even some franchise consultants take advantage of people! I recommend that you contact the International Franchise Association and take advantage of the association’s resources, including books, articles, local meetings, national conventions, and so on. The IFA can introduce you to legitimate advisors, including attorneys, accountants and consultants.

    #4 ask lots of good questions

    Fourth, ask good questions!

    When you subscribed to HowToBuyAFranchise.com you received a copy of my free report: 92+ Questions To Ask Before You Invest In A Franchise. I’ve really done a great deal of your work for you by giving you those questions. Lost that report? Never received it? Let me know and I’ll send it to you.

    Adding two new questions to my list

    I realize I now need to add two new questions, thanks to the Twitter “franchise victim.” I suggest you ask franchisees these questions:

    • Is this franchise a phenomenal business model?
    • If so, is it only phenomenal for the franchisor?

    Now that I think of it, maybe that’s all you need to do. If you ask enough franchisees those questions you’ll get a good read on any franchise company. And if the majority of the franchisees — in fact, if even more than a couple of the franchisees — tell you that it’s a good deal only for the franchisor . . . run!

    Go find another franchise to buy, or don’t buy one at all.

    Photo image by: klynslis

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