Why Visiting Franchisees In-Person Is So Important
Doing your due diligence on franchise opportunities you’re interested in involves several steps. The most important step; talking to existing franchisees. But in our hyper-connected world, “talking” can mean several things. Today, we “talk” via text, email, phone, or my favorite way, in-person. And “in-person” just happens to be the best way to talk to franchisees.
In this post, I’m going to show you how important it is to talk to franchise owners, face-to face, as part of your franchise due diligence.
Why Talk to Franchisees?
You need to get all the facts you can about the franchise opportunities you’re interested in. The best way to do that is to talk to franchisees. After all, they’ve already invested their money to buy the franchise you’re interested in.
Not only have they purchased the franchise you may want to buy for your local area, they’re operating it. Not to sound cheesy, but they’re “living the dream.”
Like you, they wanted to be their own boss. They wanted to have more freedom and control in their life. And they chose the franchise opportunity you’re investigating. But they are also in the operational stage of the business life cycle.
For prospective franchisees, nothing beats spending “a day in the life” of a franchisee. Here’s how to set up an in-person visit.:
First, you have to do is locate a franchisee who is relatively close to your area. By close, I mean within driving distance, if at all possible.
Next, you’ll need to get in touch with the franchisee you want to visit. Unless you’ve already talked the person.
(If you’ve done your research correctly, you’ve already talked to several franchisees. You may have even had a conversation or two with franchisees whose businesses are close to you.)
Scheduling Your Visit
There are a couple of ways for you to arrange a visit with a franchisee.
The first way consists of calling the franchisee you want to visit. If it’s a franchisee you’ve already talked with, it’s a lot easier to ask her if you can visit.
“Hi Linda. Joel Libava here. I wanted to thank you again for taking the time to answer my questions a couple of weeks ago. You gave me a lot to think about!
I was wondering if it would be okay for me to see your operation in-person? I’d really like to see what a day in the life of a (fill-in the name of the franchise concept) franchisee involves. It would help me a lot. Would that be okay?”
Now, if you’ve never talked with the franchisee you want to spend time with, you can either:
1. Call the franchisee yourself, and just ask.
2. If you feel more comfortable you can call your franchise representative at headquarters and ask him to arrange a visit.
What to Do While You’re There
If you want to get the maximum benefit from your in-person visit, there are a few things you need to do.
First, compile a list of questions you’d like the franchisee to answer. (You’ll think of more when you’re there)
Next, when you’re there, make sure you have an opportunity to see as many aspects of the business as possible.
You’ll want to see everything from customer interactions, to the operational aspects of the business, including things like inventory control, working with vendors, marketing and more.
Finally, and this is the most important part of your visit, you need to see how the business feels.
In other words, can you “see” yourself owning and operating the business? Is what you saw the franchisee do all day something you can do? Is it something you want to do?
In conclusion, there’s only one way to find out if you’re truly a “fit” for the franchise business opportunity you’re interested. Schedule your in-person visit.
from – Sba.gov – by Joel Libava
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