As part of the franchise purchasing process, before committing to a particular franchise, you will more than likely chat with existing franchisees during what’s called the franchise validation phase. This is one of, if not the most, important part of your franchise research process. Why? Because these franchisees were in your shoes and can give you an honest look into exactly what you may encounter and what it is like owning a franchise with this brand.
That being said, asking the right questions during your franchise validation calls is extremely important. When preparing for your conversation, you want to make sure you add these questions to your “must ask” list:
- How was your franchise launch?
This is a great way to get a little peek into how the support and training is within this franchise system. Were they left to fend for themselves after signing the FDD, or was there extensive training, written systems, and continued contact with other franchisees, the franchisor, and the headquarter team? Of course, no business opening is flawless, but with real support, and great training, your opening should be effective and overall successful. At the very least, it should be organized. If there were major setbacks or any existing franchisees found their opening to be rather challenging, you’ll want to dig a little deeper into why this happened.
- Are there marketing programs or staff?
One of the biggest benefits of opening a franchise is an already well-know and established brand. With an established brand comes existing marketing campaign, initiatives, and systems. Are these campaigns readily available to franchisees and was there support and advise available/given for best marketing practices? If these campaigns and initiatives do exist, does the franchisee find them effective or do they feel that they found more success in creating their own campaigns? The Brothers that just do Gutters Franchising Corporation has a full-time marketing team on staff for all franchisees. This team not only provides a number of available campaigns, but they also take care of most of each franchise location’s marketing efforts, especially initially.
- How long does the support last?
Similar to number 1, it is important to ask franchisees if there truly is ongoing support offered by the franchisor. It is easy for a franchisor to claim that they will always be readily available, but it is another thing to actually be available and present in a franchisee’s business. If the franchisee is hesitant about answering this or is unsure about their answer, this should be a red flag to you. If a franchisor provides excellent support and is always readily available to their franchisees, the franchisee will be adamant about sharing this as this will often be one of the best features of the specific franchise model.
- What is the money-making potential?
Of course, financial questions are always a bit uncomfortable and people try to avoid asking them whenever possible, but at the end of the day, this is going to be your livelihood and how you support your family. Because of this, this question is very important. You’ll want to ask about investment costs, average sales, product demand, business expenses and get an average on about how long it took them to start being profitable. Of course, as a business owner in a franchise system, your success is heavily reliant on the amount of effort you put into your business, but there are some general numeric averages that could be helpful in your decision-making process. Asking a franchisee this question will often provide you with more information, because the franchisor is limited in what they can disclose. One thing that is important to note is that you should not automatically assume the worst if a franchisee is hesitant in discussing this. As mentioned earlier, not many people are all that comfortable with discussing their personal finances with strangers. Because of this, it is best to save this question for later in your conversation and ask it appropriately.
- If you could go back and do it all over again, knowing what you know now, would you purchase this franchise again?
This is an excellent question because their answer will tell a lot about their overall experience. It may uncover some areas that are lacking within the franchise model, or it may simply show you that business ownership isn’t really a good fit for this specific person. A franchisee’s overall happiness with their choice and their lifestyle is extremely important because this could be telling of what your happiness level would be as a business owner under this system. While you will generally be able to gauge their happiness by the other answers they provided, this specific question is great to get more precise details. Regardless of whether the franchisee’s answer is yes or no, always ask why. This will give you the chance to truly analyze areas that may be lacking in the model, as well as allow you the opportunity to put yourself in the franchisee’s shoes a bit more. By asking why, you will not only be given specific examples, but this helps to avoid the potential for a franchisee to just say what they think you want to hear, or what they think the franchisor would want them to say.
The validation stage of purchasing a franchise is extremely important because it allows you the chance to get the honest perspective of how the model is run from someone who’s been through it themselves. This eliminates biases and “selling” language, and simply allows for you to have an honest conversation, and ask questions you may not want to ask the franchisor, or franchise sales department.
Additionally, if you do decide that this franchise model is the right one for you, these franchisees will become a part of your team and support system, so getting to know them prior to signing is beneficial! Before you validate with existing franchisees, make sure you know what questions to ask. The more questions you ask during validation, the more information you’ll have to make an educated decision. Purchasing a business isn’t a small decision, so you want to make sure you are truly gathering as much information as possible!
For more information on Brothers Gutters Franchising opportunities contact Ken today!