Rockstar Questions for First-Time Franchisees

AC Inc Office

This article was originally published in The Franchise Woman January/February Issue

Are you thinking of becoming a franchisee but not sure how to make sure the company you choose to invest in is a good fit for you?  If you’re like the majority of franchise prospects, you naturally want to know things like “How much will it cost?” and “How much money can I make?” 

However, having been a franchisee for 18 years and around franchising almost my whole life, I would recommend going deeper with your questions and making sure you check in on the following:

Are you passionate about the brand?

Your franchise will become like your baby, and if you are not excited about the brand and product or service offering, you are going to get tired of it real fast.  And you are likely going to be responsible for drumming up business in your local market.  If you are not passionate about the brand, you are probably going to struggle at telling everyone how great it is to get them ‘in the door.’

Are you aligned?

A sign of a successful company is one that is uber clear on the foundation of why they exist and their core values that drive their decision making.  Start by lifting the hood on the company’s mission, or sometimes referred to as the company’s “WHY,” and make sure it resonates with you so that you are aligned and set up to succeed.

Next, find out what their core values are and what processes they have in place to ensure that everyone in the organization lives and breathes these core values.   Do the core values sound authentic and do they get you excited?

In biz FOR yourself but not BY yourself!

Find out what support systems the franchisor offers for its franchise partners.  If the response is along the lines of “they have our number and can call us anytime,” this can be a big red flag, as it can mean that the franchisor leaves you to fend for yourself.  Most franchisors have the technical support figured out but not every franchisor really understands how to work with their franchise partners to make the relationship feel like a true partnership.

Ask the franchisor or franchise partners questions like “How often do we see our field support team in person?” and “What strategies does the company use for helping franchisees build their business and ensure profitability?”

The legal documents are your friend

Check in the Franchise Disclosure Document how many transfers and/or closures the franchise company has experienced and why?  For example, if you find out that multiple units have closed due to poor locations, it may be a red flag that the company doesn’t put enough resources into ensuring the location is the right fit.  Transfers can indicate anything from an operator realizing the opportunity was not a fit for them to the franchisor not selecting the right people.

If the franchisor is not clear on who they are looking for, how do they know you are going to be a fit?  And who else is being brought onto the team that is not a fit and going to dilute your investment as a poor operator?

Technology is also your friend

Technology is such a critical component of small business success.  The right technology creates efficiencies that lead to increased profitability and satisfaction.    Some questions to ask around technology include:

  • Is the technology simple and easy to use and does it do what the franchise partners need it to do to maximize profitability?
  • What is their communication hub like i.e. How and where can I easily communicate with headquarters and my franchise peers?
  • What metrics are available through technology to benchmark where I am at compared to other locations?
  • What do the current franchisees think of the technology?

When it comes to ensuring a franchise system is a fit, taking the time to get really clear on what you are getting into will pay off in spades.  Unfortunately, I come across too many franchisees who feel they went in without digging deeper into the things that are important and really understanding the company.

Don’t be one of them – slow things down a little now as it will pay off in spades in the longer term.  Ask the rockstar questions so you can unleash your full potential and optimize your success.