Lesson #57: Understanding Franchises: What You Should Ask Existing Franchisees

This lesson is part of our free Franchise 101 course.

When you’re researching franchises to join, the most important sources of information include current franchisees. To get the most out of them, it’s important to plan the conversations.

Preparing Your Questions

You want to make sure that the questions you ask will get you valuable information. Many of the current franchisees you contact will be very busy and won’t have time to answer a lot of questions, so the questions you ask need to get to that information quickly and directly.

To ensure that this happens, plan your questions in advance. Work out what you want to know, how best to ask for it, and which questions are most important to you. Then list your questions in order of importance, so that if you don’t get through them all, you’ll get through the ones that matter most.

Questions to Consider

If you don’t know where to start with your questions, here are a prioritized set you could use or adapt to suit your needs:

  • Is the franchisee satisfied with the financial performance of their location? If not, why?
  • What are the average revenues and profits in their area?
  • Have they recovered their initial investment yet?
  • Are they happy with their decision to buy into this franchise?
  • If they had the opportunity, would they open additional locations?
  • How good was the initial training they received before opening?
  • What is their overall impression of the franchisor?
  • Is the franchisor truly invested in their franchisees’ success, or are they just lining their own pockets?
  • How responsive is the franchisor when ongoing support and guidance is needed?

Prioritizing Your Questions

In planning out the conversation, you’ll probably want to start with the financial performance questions, as these are most important in evaluating the health of the franchise.

The franchisee may have to cut the conversation short, so make sure that you know what your last question would be if this happens. The general question about their overall impression of the franchisor can be a good wrap-up question, as it will show what comes to mind first on that topic. If the answer is negative, that tells you a lot about what the franchise is like to work with.

Interviewing is a specialist skill, and you’re not going to become an expert for this one set of conversations. But by planning and prioritizing your questions, you can get the best available information and establish positive relationships with potential future colleagues.

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