Buying into the right franchise requires a lot of due diligience on the part of the potential investor. One of the most important things he or she can do is to interview current franchisees. Here are six key questions to ask franchisees during these interviews.
You've decided you want to invest in your own franchise business but have two big questions: How much money will I need? And how much money will I make?
These are important and serious questions that a prospective franchisee needs to research before deciding whether to invest in a franchise or not, but they aren't the only questions one should focus on.
Perhaps the most important part of the buying journey is interviewing existing franchise owners. It's a good idea to talk to a variety of franchisees. They know the good, the bad and the in-between about a franchisor, and about investing in a franchise in general. Their insights can be invaluable.
Once you have zeroed in on a franchise concept, here are six key questions you should ask franchisees.
1. Has the experience of being a franchisee met your expectations?
How the franchisee answers this will tell you a lot. Follow up by asking what their specific goals were. Did they want to be a hands-off owner? Did they want better work-life balance? Also, ask what specifically is meeting, exceeding or falling short of their expectations? It can't be emphasized enough that you should ask this question (or similar ones) to as many franchisees as possible. Negative feedback from one franchisee may be an anomaly, so the more franchisees you speak with, the clearer a picture you'll have.
2. What's the day-to-day really like?
While many people choose to be a business owner to ensure a flexible schedule, know that it could take a few years before you have that luxury. Ask the franchisee how many hours a week he or she is working. What aspect of the business are they spending more time on than originally anticipated? You may think you know what a typical day as a franchise owner will entail, but until you shadow an actual franchisee, you may not fully understand what will be required of you.
3. What was the franchisor's role in helping you open your doors?
Training should be an important ingredient to you, and a strong franchise system will have a strong training program in place. Ask the franchisee what they thought of the franchisor's support during the opening process. Did they feel they were properly prepared to conduct business when the initial training was complete? Was the training as promised? What could the franchisor have done better?
4. Are you happy with the level of support provided since you've opened for business?
The initial training is not where a franchisor's support should end. Franchise representatives, typically an area operator, should make frequent stops to offer assistance. Ask the franchisee if they feel the ongoing level of support is sufficient to achieve the level of success they are aiming for. How responsive is the franchisor when there is a concern or issue? What is their experience like with the area operator?
5. How does the franchisor assist with marketing efforts?
Most franchisors have a designated marketing department focused on franchisee marketing. Ask the franchisee if the franchisor provides creative, and if so, what kind of assistance is offered. Almost every franchise system requires that every franchisee contribute to a national marketing fund and that they spend a certain amount locally each month. Ask franchisees about these figures, and get their opinion on whether they think the money is well spent or not.
6. Would you make the investment again if you had to do it all over?
This question is similar to the first one in that the franchisee's gut response will tell you a lot. Follow up by asking what they would do differently if they could start over.