Be careful about who you talk to when you interview franchisees.
“After talking to your franchisees, I’ve decided this isn’t the right business for me.”
As a former franchisor, I occasionally heard that statement from prospective franchisees, and I always asked, “Who did you talk to?”
Sometimes the prospective franchisee wouldn’t say for fear that I might use the information against the franchisees, but often times I persuaded them to name names.
Why talk to the worst franchisees?
Then I would glance at my list of franchisees rank ordered from Best to Worst. The “best” were the franchisees that produced the highest numbers (and most money) monthly, and the “worst” were the struggling franchisees.
If they had talked to the “worst” franchisees, I would say, “Do you think it’s a good idea to make a decision based on information gathered from the worst franchisees in our network?”
“The franchisees you spoke to are ranked in the bottom third of our network. I doubt that they can give you an objective review of our franchise. If you had spoken to our ‘best’ franchisees, do you think you might have come to a different conclusion?”
Of course the answer was always “Yes,” followed by, “Who are your best franchisees?”
Why didn’t you ask that question earlier?
You might be wondering why I didn’t give them the list of our best franchisees from the get-go. I didn’t because it might have been misconstrued. Franchisors must be careful not to appear as though they are “leading” a prospective franchisee. If I told you the names of my best franchisees, and you never talked to the worst franchisees, you might later accuse me of stacking the deck to convince you to buy a franchise.
However, had you asked me for the names of my best franchisees, I would have told you. Most prospective franchisees don’t know to ask that question – or, for that matter, most of the other questions that should be asked before buying a franchise.
You might even argue that talking to the best franchisees only makes sense. Yes, it does, because they are the franchisees that know what they’re doing. They are the franchisees that know how to operate the business successfully. The worst franchisees – and every franchisor has them – are looking for that “mutually beneficial relationship” that some franchisors promise!
By the way, you’ll find all the key questions to ask before buying a franchise in 101 Questions to Ask Before You Invest in a Franchise.