Identify the perfect franchise for you! Take our short quiz Take our free franchise quiz!
Identify the perfect franchise for you! Take our short quiz Take our free franchise quiz!

Talking with Current Franchise Owners

Reading through a FDD is a key part of your research, but it can’t answer all the potential questions you might have about how it is to actually operate a given franchise. The best way to do this is actually to start talking to current franchisees. The best way is to this is to call or visit a franchisee, don’t just email them. You might need to be a bit persistent, but if you are then you can get all of your questions and concerns answered.

To find out where how to contact franchisees you should go into the exhibit section of the FDD, where most franchisors include a list of current franchisees, their complete name and contact info. If this information isn’t included then you should ask the franchisor how you can contact current franchisees. In addition, most franchisors list franchisees “who have been terminated, canceled, not renewed or have voluntarily or involuntarily ceased to operate the business during the current year.”

It's difficult to give an absolute number of franchisees who should be called. The size of the system has a lot to do with it. If there are only five fran­chisees, you should call all five. But in the larger systems, you'll have to use your judgment. Try to get a good cross-section of franchisees, and don't forget to call several of the franchisees who voluntarily or involuntarily left the system.

What will you talk to them about? You will ask them about all the things that are important to you. Glenn and Connie Schenenga, Future Kids (computer training) franchisees, spoke to many of the 40 or 50 franchisees listed and asked them questions like, "Are you making any money? Are you happy? What are the positives and negatives of the business?" Pretty basic questions, but ones that every prospective franchisee would like to know the answers to. You might also inquire about the hours involved in running the business, the relationship of franchisee and franchisor and, of course, when the franchisees turned their first profit.

If you contact a wide cross-section, you will undoubtedly encounter struggling, surviving, successful and super-successful franchisees. Try to determine, as best you can, why some are not succeeding. Is the franchisee taking advantage of the corporate support? Is the franchisee putting in the time? Perhaps the owner is an absentee one. Is the franchisee out selling? The point is to try and find out if the problems lie with the franchisee or with the franchise system.

Watch out, Franchisees! 10 Franchisor Red Flags

Only a limited number of states require registration by franchisors, and franchisors are by no means required to register in states where they have no intention of selling franchises. However, if a mature franchisor appears to be consciously avoiding the registration states, this may suggest some level of internal concern about the FDD, the franchisor’s sales tactics, or the franchise system as a whole. The cover pages of the FDD will identify where the franchisor is required to register (and whether it has registered or not), and the charts in Item 20 of the FDD will explain whether the franchisor has ever sold a franchise in any of the registration states.

Top Five Business Ideas for 2015

One of the things that makes Americans unique is that all of us have a bit of entrepreneurial spirit. Our country was built by people like yourself, who were ready to open their own business and become the economic leaders of tomorrow.

Why Do Companies Franchise?

The most successful entrepreneurs, however, eventually come to recognize that achieving long-term success requires that they step back and put in place the right systems, processes, and people to expand their company beyond what any one individual -- no matter how motivated and sleep deprived -- could possibly manage on his or her own. Once a business owner sees what's possible when employees take on operational responsibilities that free management to actually manage instead of act like their own employee, he or she quickly understands the enormous power that scalability means for a business.