WHY “FRANCHISEE VALIDATION” IS SO NECESSARY WHEN BUYING A FRANCHISE
By Gary Occhiogrosso – Founder of Franchise Growth Solutions, LLC
The process of buying a franchise can be confusing, complicated and often stressful. Once you’ve decided to purchase a franchise, the search begins for the right type of business, the correct investment level and the desire to find a brand that you can stand behind and work to a successful operation.
The process usually starts with an email or a phone call to a representative of the Franchisor followed by an application. These initial steps are usually completed before the franchisor meets with you. Next, there is the franchisor’s interview process, your discovery day at the franchisor’s headquarters and reading and seeking legal counsel on the Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD). These are all necessary and customary steps when exploring and buying a franchise.
Not Done Yet
Once you completed the above process, there is one more step to be taken. In my opinion, it is the most critical step, “Validation.” Franchisee Validation is the act of the prospective franchisee (you) calling and or visiting as many existing franchisees as possible. This is not only insightful but in my opinion a necessary step. Speaking with the brand’s franchisees can give you inside information regarding the operational issues that face a franchisee daily. For example, the support the franchise gives its franchise community and the acceptance of the product or service to general public.
Most importantly you’ll want to find out about financial performance.
Franchisors Cannot Answer All Your Questions
The franchisor cannot answer many of the financial performance questions you have because of Federal Trade Commission and State Franchise Regulations. Unless the FDD includes full financial information, franchisors are prohibited from making any earnings claims that would be considered an “inducement to buy” their franchise. Many Franchisors do not publish the performance results of their franchised units because the information is not verified or audited and therefore may be incomplete or inaccurate. You will be frustrated if you attempt to get information about profitability, cost of goods or labor from the Franchisor. That’s why you must speak with operating franchisees. They can, and many will be willing to have a conversation about their operating performance.
Their Results May Not Be Your Results
Of course, it’s no guarantee you’ll do the same amount of business, or be as profitable as some franchisees. However, speaking with operating franchisees can give you a “Thin Slice Evaluation” and perhaps create some comfort level in with your decision to purchase the franchise. Remember, you’re not buying an existing business with a track record of the operation results, so you can not quantify how well you will do in the business. You need to conduct your due diligence on the concept, the management team and the support given by the franchisor. It would be best if you felt confident with the concept, the product and your ability to perform like a successful franchise. The information you gather from the franchisor, the existing base of franchisees and a good dose of faith and passion will help you achieve success.
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