My consulting firm, Franchise Marketing Systems helps businesses become franchise models. Over the past several years, I have purchased franchises as part of my work in the industry. It has been interesting to say the least to see the other side of the relationship as a franchisee. Buying a franchise can be a confusing, scary and enormously time consuming process. All of this many times leads to bad decision making as people skip steps and tend to jump into something that maybe wasn’t the best business decision to begin with. The irony of it all is that franchising is by nature a business model that helps entrepreneurs and investors avoid unnecessary risk and skip the learning curve through a proven and validated business model. The buying process provides many of the same benefits just by the simple fact that the franchise legal process requires certain disclosures and information to be presented to a franchisee prior to their making a buying decision. So what can you do in researching your franchise investment to help avoid the pitfalls of a bad investment and find the shining star of an investment you’ve been looking for?
First, do your research. Good business people take their time. Haven’t you heard the saying that Warren Buffett had about his investing strategies, “Someone’s sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.” It’s always nice to read things that rich people have said and sound so obvious when you hear them, but the idea here is to look at your franchise investment process as a long term decision. This needs to be planned out, thought through and really understood before you should take action. Do market research, search the industry detail and information to know who is out there and what the consumer market looks like for your potential product or service. If you are going into Tax Preparation as a potential franchise, understand the major players and who is good at what so you know where your brand will fit and what your value proposition would be to the market.
Second, know your rights as a franchisee. The beauty of the franchise investment is that the information is all there for you. Franchise investment law is overseen by the Federal Trade Commission and other state governing bodies, California is the Department of Business Oversight, New York is the New York Department of Law and etc. These governing bodies require that certain information is available to you as a buyer through a Franchise Disclosure Document and that the FDD is reviewed by that particular state’s administrators before the franchise may be offered to people in that market. This means in some cases that the franchise documentation is available through several of the state regulator’s websites and also that the FDD should have been reviewed by the state agency where the franchise is being considered for purchase.
Third, take the FDD to a qualified franchise consultant or franchise attorney to review the document with you and actually provide feedback as to what the franchise offering means to you. Knowing the business and how to read the franchise literature will help you do your analysis. The FDD contains information that relates to other franchisees who are both in the system and who have failed as franchisees. It also will contain information related to the fee structure, initial investment and background on the organizations behind the franchise model.
Fourth, make calls to people who are both in the franchise system and who have failed in the franchise system. There is no excuse! Having conversations….or even meetings with people who have already walked in your footsteps will provide you with the most accurate picture of this franchise investment possible. With the information you have now, you should be able to map out a business model and create a picture of what this franchise is capable of.
For more information on how to buy a franchise, contact Christopher Conner with Franchise Marketing Systems