If you are asking "What should I be asking a franchisee?" then this guide is for you.
It's our summary of some of the most important questions to be asking. If you are assessing multiple franchisees or multiple brands, ask the same questions to all of them. It's the best way to compare effectively and allow you to make the right decision for your future.
Either download the guide or read the text only version just below.
When researching a franchised brand one of your most important steps will be to speak with a franchisee or two or three! Actually, at least three is probably a good number.
Speak with franchisees who are performing at the highest level, those who are performing at an average level and those who are perhaps struggling to achieve the average.
This way you will get a fully rounded view point of the franchise network’s sentiment, but also you can truly understand what it takes to be successful.
By interviewing the top and bottom performers you can see what the difference is. If you can see yourself delivering somewhere near what the best performer is in terms of energy, quality and output then this may be the right brand for you. If not, it’s time to look elsewhere!
This guide has been designed to help give you some inspiration and guidance on the best questions to ask franchisees to make sure that you are making the right investment choice for your future.
We hope it's useful for you.
Best of luck!
Q1 What has been the most rewarding part of being a franchisee?
This question and the next are pretty open ended and starting with these will encourage the franchisee to give you insights that a more closed question would. For example if you ask “Do you like the product/service you are selling?”, the most likely responses will be a simple “yes it’s great” or “no, not really”.
Q2 What has been the most unexpected struggle?
How the franchisee responds to this question in particular will tell you a great deal about how closely expectations have been met. You may also pick up on any issues that perhaps even the franchisor may not be aware of.
Q3 What were you doing prior to being a franchisee?
It may initially seem a little irrelevant, however if all the franchisees that you speak with have a similar background, you can spot this trend and will get a better understanding of the type of background that works well in this franchise opportunity.
Q4 Was the training and assistance provided by the franchisor in starting your business adequate? What could they have done better?
When you invest in a franchise, one of the biggest benefits will be that you are not doing it on your own. Getting the business set up efficiently and giving you the knowledge to start operating the business with a clear path to follow should be the top priority for the franchisor. Ask the franchisee how prepared they felt once open, and if there is anything they think should be added to the training.
Q5 How has the franchisor’s support been since you have been open for business?
Many franchisors will assign an employee, often called a Franchise Support Manager, to provide guidance and support to you on an ongoing basis. This person’s job is twofold. One, to assist you with day-to-day operations, and two, to ensure you are abiding by the guidelines set by the franchisor. Ask the franchisee what kind of assistance he or she has provided. How often do they communicate? All-in-all, does the franchisee feel properly supported?
Also, bear in mind that some brands strip back the support they offer to reduce the cost of the Managed Service Fees or Royalties. This may work better for you if you’re confident at running this type of business already. If not, a franchise that charges a bit more may be a better choice for you. Either way, just ensure that what you're getting in terms of support is inline with the fees you will be paying.
Q6 How often does the franchisor communicate with the network? And how?
As a franchise brand grows its network, it naturally means that they are unable to support all of their franchisees on a one-to-one basis. Again, that’s ok, but are they offering enough for you? Also, when they do communicate important information, which channels do they use? Is it clear and easy to understand or does the communication leave the franchisee lost and out of touch with important changes?
Q7 What assistance does the franchisor provide with marketing?
Most franchise brands tend to have in-house marketing teams or at the least have a repository of marketing collateral for you to access and use. However, if they do have an internal marketing team, their main focus may only be for national exposure. This won’t get you enough clients or customers through your doors. You will need to focus on local marketing as well. Some brands will help with this, but if you are going to contribute towards a marketing fund, just make sure you are getting value from the franchisor and their team.
It’s also important to understand the social media policy for the brand. What flexibility have you got to create your own page and how important will it be for your business growth?
Q8 Are you happy with the financial returns to-date? Do you feel you are on your way to meeting all of your financial goals?
Asking outright “how much money do you make?” will make the franchisee feel uncomfortable. They are giving up their time for you, don’t forget.
Simply asking how happy the franchisee is with their financial performance will say a great deal. If they are not happy, what do they attribute that to? Do they see themselves overcoming current challenges and ultimately hitting their goals? Who knows, you may find a franchisee or two who is very open with their finances and willing to share any and all details. However, you won’t find such a franchisee if one of the first questions you ask is about money. Establish a rapport first. Make sure this question comes later in your conversation.
Q9 Do you have any advice for me as I continue with the exploration process?
What does the franchisee wish they did differently while doing their due diligence? Is there a question they wished they asked? Is there information they found out later that they felt was important to know before signing their agreement?
Q10 If you had to do it all over, would you make the investment again?
You will get a lot from their answer to this question. They may have some gripes and issues with certain aspects of the business or you may have caught them at a bad time. However, if they would do it all again, it’s a strong sign that this a brand that they believe in and trust
As mentioned earlier it's a good idea to speak with multiple franchisees, if possible to get a broad range of experiences.
You may also want to do your research before speaking with the franchisee and a good idea could be to check out their activities online, through social media sites like LinkedIn or if possible head into their store or restaurant.
Whatever you do though, make sure you maximise your time with the franchisees as it's such an invaluable piece of your due diligence. Go prepared and don't be afraid to take a list of questions with you.
To help we've put together all of the questions on one sheet in the downloadable guide and space for all of your other questions as well so that you can print out this page ready for your conversations.
If you need any support in your search for the right franchise for you you can always get in contact with us on firstname.lastname@example.org or check out our guide "How to choose the right franchise for you".
So there we go, hopefully this has been useful and we wish you all the best in your search.
We hope that this guide has helped you during your initial steps to find and choose the best franchise for you..
Whatever your thoughts are after reading this, don't forget that there are many places you can research the industry and the brands that you may be considering. Take your time and choose wisely.
Even if now isn't the right time for you, or you can't find the right brand, the knowledge that you have gained from these conversations will hopefully help you to make good decisions in the future when an exciting opportunity does catch your eye.
Here's one final thought for you to consider...
There are many statistics flying around the internet, each with a different statistics about franchise success rates. Each one though clearly states that franchises succeed over start ups as a general rule, so it's something to bear in mind as you plan your next move.
This guide has been brought to you by The Franchised. If you would like to discuss anything franchising, please don't hesitate to contact us!