Tag Archives: Buy a Franchise

4+ Questions To Help You Buy A Franchise With Confidence

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Some prospective franchisees admit they do not know what to ask existing franchisees, and others say they know what they’d like to ask, but they don’t know how. Don’t let either scenario stop you from thoroughly investigating a franchise opportunity. Here are 4+ questions to ask, worded in a way to help you get the information you need.

#1 “As an existing franchisee, knowing what you now know, would you buy this same franchise again?”

Some experts will tell you never to ask Yes/No questions, but in this case you must because you want a definitive answer. If you ask ten franchisees of the same brand that same question you want to add up the “yeses” and “nos” at the end of your interrogation and decide if this is a franchise you should buy. If the majority of existing franchisees tell you “no” then you probably need to look for another opportunity. There could be exceptions, but you’ll want to understand what they are before you go ahead.

The answers to Question #1 logically lead to other questions. Whether the franchisee says yes or no, ask: “Why” If the franchisee answers no, ask “Under what circumstances would you change your answer to a yes?”

The answers to Question #1 logically lead to other questions. Whether the franchisee says yes or no, ask: “Why” If the franchisee answers no, ask “Under what circumstances would you change your answer to a yes?”

#2 “Do you find the business as satisfying today as you did when you first got started?”

Satisfaction is an important consideration in the life of a franchisee. In fact, many people explore franchise opportunities to get away from an unsatisfying job. But in this case, you’ll pay a fee to go to work. Do you really want to work at something that you don’t find satisfying after a year or two?

It’s another Yes/No question, but again the answers lead to other questions: “What happened to change your degree of satisfaction?” . . . “What could you or the franchisor do to make the business more satisfying?”

#3 “What’s the secret to the success of the top franchisees?”

It’s an open-ended question that can reveal important facts for you to consider. For example, if the franchisee answers, “Location!” you need to zero in on where to open your franchise. If the answer is “sales skills” or “management skills” or “accounting skills” you need to evaluate your own skills, or your ability to hire those skills.

Of course, if you’re not questioning a top franchisee, you may get the wrong answer! That’s why you should always ask the franchisor to give you a list of the top performing franchisees, i.e. the franchisees who won awards at the last three annual conventions. (A franchisor that won’t do that or can’t do that may not be worthy of your consideration).

#4 “If I invest the money the way the franchisor suggests (i.e. in training, advertising, location, etc.) and I work the business as well as you have, how much money can I expect to earn my first year as a franchisee? The third year? The fifth year?”

That’s what you really want to know, isn’t it? “How much money will I make?” The franchisor probably won’t tell you, but the franchisees will if you ask in a non-invasive manner. If you’re expecting to earn six figures annually, but no franchisee ever has with this brand, you need to know that upfront. It may mean you’ll have to buy more than one unit to meet your financial goals.

While these are some of the questions you should ask existing franchisees, you’ll find more in my book 101 Questions to Ask Before You Invest in a Franchise.

Franchise & Business Owners: Don’t Worry About Passion

Notice that no where does it say passion equates success in anything.

“Your passion for your business is most critical because it will drive your eventual success.”

So said an “expert”.

Who comes up with this stuff? It reminds me of the “expert” who said that most businesses fail for lack of cash flow. Huh? Most businesses fail because the business operators had no clue (no system) about how to operate the business successfully. They had plenty of money, but they ran out because they didn’t know how to invest it.

But I bet they had loads of passion?

And what did that get them? A huge financial loss and the despair that follows.

First thing prospective franchisees and others who plan to start a business should know is to avoid and ignore the “experts”. At least some of them. Instead, seek the advice of people who actually worked in the trenches, who built businesses, who failed a time or two, who made a payroll over and over again, and who understand the basics of how to succeed in a business.

And understand that passion can lead to success . . . or failure. 

Early in my entrepreneurial career, I rented a small office from a guy who owned an insurance agency. Every so often as he was leaving the office at about 6 p.m. he would stop by and say, “If you continue working this hard for another year or two, you’re going to be a great success.”

I know he meant well; I know he was merely encouraging me, but he was clueless.

You may have loads of passion for what you want to do in your business, and you may work 7 days a week at it, but here’s the most important point: If you don’t know what you are doing, and why, and how to do it over and over again, you are not going to succeed. Work your tail off, tell everyone how passionately you love your business, your products, your service, but don’t for a moment think any of that bull translates to financial success.

You want to succeed? Buy a system for success. Or develop a system for success. Of course, there too, you must be careful because all systems are not created equal.

By the way, I’ve identified 12 successful systems in my forthcoming ebook: 12 Amazing Franchise Opportunities for 2015. You can still get a free copy just for asking (look at the top of the screen). 

Your Mistakes Will Cost More Than You Think

When you start your own independent (non-franchised) business, your mistakes will be more costly than you imagined. In fact, your mistakes will probably put you out of business.

I’m not writing this to scare you away from starting a business without a franchisor; I’m writing it because it’s factual . . . and scary.

Do indie businesses survive?
Have you looked at the statistics? How many independent start-up businesses survive in the USA? Rather than take my word for it do some research, or better yet, just ask a local business banker!

Of course, the more entrepreneurial you are, the more likely you are to say that you can avoid the mistakes, and maybe you can. However, the statistics say otherwise. Most independent startups fail.

Why mistakes occur
Many people think certain businesses are easy to start and operate. Let’s take pizza for example. Many people can make a “good” pizza? My Italian grandmother made the greatest pizza in the world, so it’s no surprise that many of my cousins can make great pizzas, too.

In fact, when people tasted my cousin Mary’s pizza, they told her that she needed to go into business. And she did! Mary and her entrepreneurial husband (also an Italian) opened a couple of pizza shops, and in a matter of years were dead broke.

How could that be? They made a “great” pizza.

Can you sell what you make?
I’ll tell you how. They knew how to make pizza; they didn’t know how to market and sell pizza. Franchising’s saving grace is that it knows how to distribute (sell) products and services.

It is simple to open a pizza shop. You get a good location, buy the equipment, bring in the supplies, get a recipe, put up a sign, do some marketing and . . . voila! . . . you’ve got a thriving business.

No, you don’t. You’ve got a money-sucking business, unless you avoid the mistakes.

What do customers want?
Mary’s first mistake was believing that consumers want a “great” or even “good” pizza. They don’t. Just look at what they buy everyday!

Mary thought she could build her business by advertising in the newspaper. Wrong. The pizza franchises would have saved her from that mistake.

Mary also thought she could build her business without delivery. Wrong. The pizza franchises would have saved her from that mistake, too.

Too many mistakes
There were numerous other mistakes . . . Mary didn’t know how many slices of pepperoni to place on a large pizza and still keep it profitable . . . and the pizza franchises would have saved her from that mistake as well.

After so many mistakes, Mary and her husband lost their business and much more.

It’s easy to make these mistakes . . . Mary and her husband had no idea they were making them. They would have done anything to avoid them . . . except buy a franchise. Because a franchise would not have allowed Mary to sell her “great” pizza.

Should you buy a franchise?
Look, you need to make some tough decisions before you start a business. What’s important to you? Your way? Or a franchisor’s way? Keep in mind that the franchisor may not sell what you consider to be a “great” or even “good” product – if that’s important, find another franchisor, or avoid franchising.

Of this you can be sure: If you buy a reputable franchise (and they’re not all reputable) the franchisor’s training will save you from making too many costly mistakes. You’re still going to make mistakes, but in a franchise, the mistakes probably won’t put you out of business. Ask your banker how many of his or her franchisee clients fail? It’s one of the reasons why bankers love franchising.

In fact, even though they won’t tell you, the bankers know you are going to make mistakes when you start an independent business, and even though you’ve accounted for mistakes in your business plan and cash flow estimates, the bankers know better. Your mistakes are going to cost more than you think.

Are You Talking To The “Best” Or The “Worst” Franchisees?

Best worst franchises

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?”

 

Who are your best franchises

“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.